Customer Review

56 of 235 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WHAT KINDS OF STANDARDS FOR OUR CHILDREN, February 5, 2011
This review is from: Smile (Paperback)
My ten-year-old daughter came home with this book from her school library. At first glance, the book looks innocent enough. On closer inspection, we became outraged. Although many people suggest and have reviewed it as appropriate for as young as nine, we believe it is better suited to older girls - at least the age of the character (12).

Consider (references and language from the book itself):

- a young girl subjected to years of teasing, who didn't "get the guy"
- discussions about kissing
- "kinda sorta having boyfriends"
- "guys" and a game of Spin the Bottle
- a pair of girls pulling down another girl's skirt so that she suffers public "humiliation"

The descriptions and vocabulary are taken directly from the book.

Although there are many parents who would not find this material offensive, we believe that just because this type of subject matter is available on TV does not make it right. Someone somewhere has to make a stand and deliver wholesome materials to our children, with positive role modeling and examples of appropriate social behavior, and good judgment.

When discussed with the school principal, he pointed out that the book was published by Scholastic, as though that makes it right. I pointed out that Scholastic is in the business of selling books; might not the perspective be skewed?

Decide for yourself.



I've been told that I should hold my opinions for my "church newsletter" and that another poster will tell everyone to "ignore" my opinion, while still others state that "bullying happens."

For my part, I've never been of the opinion that just because something is, we are powerless to change a situation. Simply accepting the status quo does not address the fact that so many of our young children are either victims of suicide or experiencing teenage pregnancy.

Although my opinion is counter that of so many, it doesn't minimize it. I suggested people decide for themselves, yet others seem more concerned about suppressing my opinion.

I affirm that this book is best read with a parent, not found as a child's selection from a public school library without proper context and explanation.
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 44 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 7, 2011 7:16:57 AM PST
A ten-year old is definitely old enough to understand that all of these things exist. Furthermore, I'd say you are doing your daughter a disservice to NOT let her read Smile, so that she can understand that teasing and humiliation are unacceptable even if it's from your friends, and to not quietly accept this bullying from her peers. Hiding incidents of bullying (or the idea of kissing) just makes your children more unprepared for real life when it occurs. Let them read about it, understand that they don't have to be pressured into things, and be better prepared to make good decisions in life.

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 7:25:37 AM PST
Reddog says:
I don't know what school you or your daughter attend where 10 year old kids don't discuss boys (or girls), discuss kissing and the other things you mentioned. The fact they discuss these things doesn't mean they are doing them and the curiosity is there in every child by the age of 10. As for the public humiliation (in the story) having the skirt being pulled down, nothing is seen but cycling shorts, the event isn't being glorified it is a major event that changes the main characters outlook on her relationships with her circle of friends. Again if you think this sort of thing doesn't occur at grade school (even under the age of 10) you are mistaken!

Well you going to your principle over this book tells me that you must talk to your daughter more about what is actually going on day to day at school...

I have decided!

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 7:41:39 AM PST
Tyler Page says:
I have decided for myself - "Smile" is a very accurate depiction of grade- and middle-school life. kids talk about kissing, kids are mean to each other, and this book shows how the author processed all of those difficult experiences in her life to become a better person. you can't shelter your children from reality - and doing so can often cause more harm than good. and really, the hardships the author faces are rather mild by comparison when seen from an adult perspective. but to a 10 or 11 year-old, it's like the end of the world - and the author does an amazing job of showing how she gained a healthy perspective on her life. I'm going to make sure my daughter reads Smile when she's in middle school!

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 7:44:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 7, 2011 7:48:42 AM PST
ben towle says:
Thank you for taking such a bold stand on this obviously very inappropriate book. I wish I had time for a more robust reply, but unfortunately I'm surreptitiously typing this from within my cell at a maximum security prison. What began as a childhood discussion of kissing, I'm sad to say, later blossomed into a full-fledged life of petty crime, drug abuse and finally MURDER.

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 7:54:07 AM PST
Nope. Disagree. Unhelpful. And, really, a view a bit removed from reality.

I'll be sure tell everyone else I know to disregard your review. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2011 11:01:12 AM PST
Save your review for your church newsletter.

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 11:13:03 AM PST
Rachael F says:
You're being hypersensitive. 10 year old girls are smarter than you think. Ever watch how they play with their dolls and toys? They build up their own soap opera inner storytelling sometimes.
This book is appropriate for this age group. Teasing happens among children, there's no way to stop it. The book uses it as a plot device to add conflict to the story (or else things would be boring if everything was perfect.) Raina, the protagonist, resolves the issue by finally standing up to her 'friends', and by the end of the book hangs out with people that more accepting and kind to her.
There's no underage romance, just some preteen crushes. Preteen girls start to show interest in boys, even if boys still think they're 'yucky'. It's natural and human, and stifling this could result in negative behaviours.
If a ten year old is interested in the concepts in this book, go ahead and let them read it! A lot of the bigger concepts are very positive to teach kids: Braces arn't bad, they help you have a better smile when you're an adult. Hygene matinence is a good habit to develop. Kids will tease, learn to stand up for yourself or ignore it. Don't let others stifle your interests!

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 2:06:26 PM PST
I completely disagree with this review. This is a really wonderful, warm book about growing up and learning to love yourself. My daughters, triplets, are seven years old and I had absolutely no problem sharing this book with them. They've read it several times to themselves.

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 2:36:35 PM PST
L. Collins says:
This review is way off base. Smile is a wonderful book for elementary and middle school children. One thing to remember is that the book is based on the author's real life experience - she's telling us what happened to her at that age. As for the teasing, it happens. Raina decided as a result of it to find new friends who were more mature and treated her better. That is being a wonderful role model, if you ask me!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2011 5:35:25 PM PST
"Smile" is an amazing true story of a young girl who survives not just a painful dental reconstruction but bullying and teasing from her so-called friends. In the end Raina learns what true friendship is, she doesn't follow the crowd when kids are playing spin the bottle and dressing themselves older than their age, and she ultimately taps into her passion, which is art. This is a beautiful book, made more so because the author wrote and illustrated an obviously painful part of her life. THAT is EXACTLY the kind of message I would want my 9-year-old daughter to get.
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