Guts

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Guts Book

REAL FRIENDS

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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More by Shannon Hale

This introduction to puberty may be particularly helpful for girls looking ahead to that stage.

THE GIRL’S BODY BOOK

by Kelli Dunham , illustrated by Laura Tallardy &#8231, RELEASE DATE: Nov. 14, 2017

A growing-up guide for preteen girls.

This puberty-navigation guide covers girls’ bodily changes, body care, health, relationships with family and friends, staying safe, and handling stress. In many cases the author, a registered nurse, has covered the same material as she did in various editions of this title as well as The Boy’s Body Book. This girls’ book skips the topics of sleep and performance-enhancement drugs in favor of a section on eating disorders. As in the boys’ book, controversial subjects are addressed generally and conservatively if at all. She includes a rough diagram of female reproductive organs and tells her young readers about menstruation and visiting a gynecologist but not how babies are made. She talks about having boys as friends, saying “Don’t put pressure on yourself to call any of your close friendships ‘dating.’ ” The strength of this title is its emphasis on good grooming, healthy living habits, and positive relationships. Added for this fourth edition is new material on interacting with adults, personal empowerment, body language, reputations, and “learning disabilities,” helpful information for the growing segment of the preteen population identified with cognitive and social learning differences. Tallardy’s cartoon illustrations show girls and adults of varying ethnicities and provide a cheerful accompaniment.

This introduction to puberty may be particularly helpful for girls looking ahead to that stage. (resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it&apos,s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she&apos,s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina&apos,s tummy trouble isn&apos,t going away. and it coinci Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it’s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she’s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina’s tummy trouble isn’t going away. and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What’s going on?

Raina Telgemeier once again brings us a thoughtful, charming, and funny true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face — and conquer — her fears. . more

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[9/17/2019] – TW: Anxiety, throwing up. Review to come!

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WHAT. THE QUEEN OF GRAPHIC NOVELS IS RELEASING ANOTHER BOOK!!

[9/17/2019] – TW: Anxiety, throwing up. Review to come!

************
WHAT. THE QUEEN OF GRAPHIC NOVELS IS RELEASING ANOTHER BOOK!!

Middle-grade book. Raina starts fifth grade. I liked this book, but it doesn&apos,t really have much of a plot. Raina starts to struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, having a very sensitive stomach, and dealing with a mean girl at school.

She ends up in therapy, which the book sweetly makes clear is not a big deal or something to be ashamed of.

There&apos,s not a cohesive storyline, and that probably won&apos,t bother most people, but for me it makes a book less enjoyable.

As usual, Telgemeier makes books with w Middle-grade book. Raina starts fifth grade. I liked this book, but it doesn’t really have much of a plot. Raina starts to struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, having a very sensitive stomach, and dealing with a mean girl at school.

She ends up in therapy, which the book sweetly makes clear is not a big deal or something to be ashamed of.

There’s not a cohesive storyline, and that probably won’t bother most people, but for me it makes a book less enjoyable.

As usual, Telgemeier makes books with wonderful illustrations that involve realistic kids going through realistic problems (ha ha ha, maybe with the exception of Ghosts). The only reason I struggled with it is because it’s not really about anything nor does it have the typical hallmarks of plot.

I’d liken it to something like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret but with less of a cohesive, structured storyline. If you like Telgemeier’s other books you will probably enjoy this.

NAMES IN THIS BOOK
(view spoiler) [
Raina f
Nicole f
Teddy m
Michelle f
Will m
Amara f
Jane f
Tai m
Andre m
Serena f
Lauren f
Dina f
Rosa f
Louie m
Ann f
(hide spoiler)] . more

I love Raina&apos,s books and this is another entry in the Smile series. Raina has a special gift for graphic novels. It is also the first story I have seen for younger kids bout IBS.

I tell you, Raina dealt with some tough stuff. She had some severe dental work to contend with and she has had to figure out how to live with IBS. She also shares them so beautifully with us.

My niece is going to read this next now that I&apos,m done. She loves the other 2 smile books. She can have stomach issues, so I hope t I love Raina’s books and this is another entry in the Smile series. Raina has a special gift for graphic novels. It is also the first story I have seen for younger kids bout IBS.

I tell you, Raina dealt with some tough stuff. She had some severe dental work to contend with and she has had to figure out how to live with IBS. She also shares them so beautifully with us.

My niece is going to read this next now that I’m done. She loves the other 2 smile books. She can have stomach issues, so I hope this can show her it’s nothing to be worried about.

I love the comic feel of the story and all the color. These are great middle grade books. Raina is queen of this age range. Enjoy. . more

&quot,For anyone who is afraid.&quot,

Eisner 2020 winner Raina Telgemeier, Guts (Scholastic Graphix).

Yet another graphic novel for older children/middle grades by rock star graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier, and this one is maybe her most serious and personal, dealing with her lifelong (and continuing!) anxiety, phobias and panic attacks connected to her digestive system. A doctor diagnosed her as having irritable bowel syndrome, so she has some real sensitivities but they are exacerbated by stress.

Thou “For anyone who is afraid.”

Eisner 2020 winner Raina Telgemeier, Guts (Scholastic Graphix).

Yet another graphic novel for older children/middle grades by rock star graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier, and this one is maybe her most serious and personal, dealing with her lifelong (and continuing!) anxiety, phobias and panic attacks connected to her digestive system. A doctor diagnosed her as having irritable bowel syndrome, so she has some real sensitivities but they are exacerbated by stress.

Though it is intended to connect to others who have similar problems, this book made me uncomfortable and a little anxious throughout, since for many early years of my life I had stomach issues related in part to anxiety, partly genetic. For years in my twenties I suffered from colitis as did several other family members. I also had panic attacks for about one year of my life in my late thirties when I was in grad school. Just that year, thank goodness.

And now I am teaching a course on the teaching of writing, in the middle of a unit on writing visual essays, inviting them to write on any topic they want and more than a third of the class is writing about mental health issues, anxiety, depression. I am seeing a kind of epidemic of anxiety/stress/depression and so on in classrooms everywhere, which means life everywhere, way worse than when I began teaching decades ago.

Here’s an article on Raina and the crisis in anxiety in kids:

Goodreads: Raina Telgemeier is releasing a new book!

9/3/19: Y’all, after attending Raina’s Presentation at the NBF, I got a sneak peek. It looks very good and extremely relatable. I’ve request it already and I’m so excited!
Two weeks left! 😀

9/17/19:
I finally read it.

Here’s my review..
Let’s all rise for our national anxiety anthem.

You may be seated.

This book was emotional. This book was painfully relatable. This book gave me a stomach ache. And I am ok w Goodreads: Raina Telgemeier is releasing a new book!

9/3/19: Y’all, after attending Raina’s Presentation at the NBF, I got a sneak peek. It looks very good and extremely relatable. I’ve request it already and I’m so excited!
Two weeks left! 😀

9/17/19:
I finally read it.

Here’s my review..
Let’s all rise for our national anxiety anthem.

You may be seated.

This book was emotional. This book was painfully relatable. This book gave me a stomach ache. And I am ok with that.

To say that this book is relatable would be an understatement.
In fact, I’m probably gonna bring this book to therapy so I can explain my thoughts without having to come up with the idea myself.. thanks, Raina!

It’s so painful to have to hold in the anxiety and terror that is ibs.
I don’t have ibs but I do have constant anxious stomach, was almost diagnosed with ibs before I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance and anxiety. In summer of 2018, I began to suffer form horrible upset stomachs. These terrified me more than anything else ever had. It got to the point where I was scared to eat most days and
**TRIGGER WARNING**
I ended up in the hospital for a suicide attempt because that’s how bad it got. Unbeknownst to me, I was lactose intolerant. So I kept eating dairy, getting upset stomachs, and getting bad anxiety.

Eventually though, I made a full mental recovery. Now I just live my life doing my best to survive through the anxiety that does still exist in my brain.
So yeah, that’s my story.
Raina’s story was very inspiring and it’s so cool to see her be so brave to share this part of her life.
❤️

Overall, this book was inspiring, relatable and a book everyone should read.
. more

Thank you to Scholastic for the Advanced Reading Copy. This review contains spoilers, and is written from the perspective of a children&apos,s librarian.

It&apos,s been 5 years since Sisters, the sequel to Smile, was published. From my experience working in libraries, interest in the series has only increased over time. When I visit grades 4 – 6 and ask if anyone has read the Smile series, almost every hand goes up – boys included! For that reason alone, the 3rd book in the series is a must purchase for pu Thank you to Scholastic for the Advanced Reading Copy. This review contains spoilers, and is written from the perspective of a children’s librarian.

It’s been 5 years since Sisters, the sequel to Smile, was published. From my experience working in libraries, interest in the series has only increased over time. When I visit grades 4 – 6 and ask if anyone has read the Smile series, almost every hand goes up – boys included! For that reason alone, the 3rd book in the series is a must purchase for public and school libraries.

Beyond that, Guts is phenomenal. The best book in the series thus far. The pacing, dialogue, humor, and subject matter shows that Raina Telegemeier is truly a master graphic novelist at the top of her game.

As with Smile and Sisters, Guts is based on elements of Raina’s middle grade life. Where Smile is about Raina’s insecurities about her braces, and Sisters is about her difficult relationship with her sister, Guts is about her anxiety. At first Raina develops a phobia of throwing up. She experiences a panic attack at the thought of getting sick. While the feeling is difficult to explain in words, Raina does an apt job communicating the feeling through images of the character falling through the bathroom floor while struggling to stay above. Her anxieties expand to include social situations and eating. Eventually her parents have her see a therapist. I found the therapy scenes to be especially well done and realistic. Raina is anxious about therapy, but her therapist is patient and understanding, often encouraging her to just “try,” even when the words don’t come easily. In the end Raina receives a diagnosis related to her upset stomach, and learns coping mechanisms for her anxiety.

The book also depicts a tense friendship between Raina and another girl in her class. Both girls feel that the other is unfairly unkind to them, but are able to open up and realize that they aren’t so different after all.

Readers of all ages will take away real mindfulness practices such as grounding and deep breathing. The book will help destigmatize mental health issues and going to therapy. I appreciate Raina telling her story with such honesty and using her platform to help children understand how to get help.

This book is easily readable in one sitting, and I can imagine many children will do just that. . more

While I love the artwork in Raina’s graphic novels this is the first of her Smile series that I’ve actually finished reading. Given how popular her graphic novels are I think my not falling in love with them is probably an ‘it’s me, not you’ thing.

Even though I don’t have emetophobia I’m so glad I didn’t read this graphic novel while I was eating, as it definitely depicts a significant amount of vomiting, fear of vomiting and other stomach upsets.

(Not a spoiler but this image could trigger peop While I love the artwork in Raina’s graphic novels this is the first of her Smile series that I’ve actually finished reading. Given how popular her graphic novels are I think my not falling in love with them is probably an ‘it’s me, not you’ thing.

Even though I don’t have emetophobia I’m so glad I didn’t read this graphic novel while I was eating, as it definitely depicts a significant amount of vomiting, fear of vomiting and other stomach upsets.

(Not a spoiler but this image could trigger people with emetophobia) (view spoiler) [

While I’m not keen to reread this graphic novel I did really love the illustrations. I also learned something new: if you drink water after eating artichokes it takes sweet. I found that tidbit really interesting, but I wasn’t quite as smiley when I found out it also works if you reverse the process.

While there are plenty of relatable moments for readers with anxiety, I’m not sure how well people with emetophobia would manage while reading this graphic novel.

I’m rounding up from 3.5 stars. . more

Raina Telgemeier is an A+ writer.

Her books are aimed towards middle-grade, but I think that everyone can get something from her stuff.

It was fun to read this because it really gave some new info about Smile and Raina&apos,s relationship with her friends.

As always, the artwork was out of this world.

So well-written. A lot of kids (and teens, and adults) will find this painfully relatable.

5/5 stars. Raina Telgemeier is an A+ writer.

Her books are aimed towards middle-grade, but I think that everyone can get something from her stuff.

It was fun to read this because it really gave some new info about Smile and Raina’s relationship with her friends.

As always, the artwork was out of this world.

So well-written. A lot of kids (and teens, and adults) will find this painfully relatable.

If you follow my reviews at all you know by now that I&apos,m a HUGE fan of almost anything that makes the effort, especially for young readers, to normalize things that have historically been hidden or discussed in hushed tones or labeled &quot,not something we talk about.&quot, I think we need to begin stepping away from keeping things like mental health issues and addiction anonymous and the sooner we can do it with our kids the better off we&apos,re all going to be.

I, and god knows how many other people, strugg If you follow my reviews at all you know by now that I’m a HUGE fan of almost anything that makes the effort, especially for young readers, to normalize things that have historically been hidden or discussed in hushed tones or labeled “not something we talk about.” I think we need to begin stepping away from keeping things like mental health issues and addiction anonymous and the sooner we can do it with our kids the better off we’re all going to be.

I, and god knows how many other people, struggled for years and years with crippling anxiety and depression. It affected, quite literally, every single part of my life. I didn’t even know how bad it was until it started getting better. And without a doubt two of the biggest roadblocks in my recovery were feeling like this was something “wrong” about myself that I needed to hide and a firm belief that I should be able to get things under control myself. Which ironically made everything infinitely worse.

So thank Christ for books like this is what I’m saying!

This fantastic, semi-autobiographical graphic novel should be mandatory reading for practically every kid in the world which is basically true of all Raina’s wonderful books but this one is especially important. Because it puts anxiety in a place that any kid can relate to.

Firmly in the bathroom.

Grade school aged Raina wakes up one night with a stomachache. At first it seems like just the same run of the mill flu everyone in school has but it starts Raina’s brain tumbling into total chaos. What if she throws up in school? Should she eat that chip her friend is offering her? Did they wash their hands? What if that food makes her sick? What if someone else throws up?

Before long she’s developed a phobia about food and throwing up to the point where she’s missing school and literally making herself sick. Fortunately her parents get her to an understanding therapist who helps Raina start to get a handle on the actual things in her life that are causing her stress and anxiety and giving her a safe place to talk about them.

While its a very common manifestation of anxiety Raina’s chosen like the perfect way to show younger readers what anxiety actually looks like. She even sets the story up with a reminder of how funny kids find bathroom stuff. The entire intro is devoted to Raina and her friends delighting in all things disgusting, farts, and scabs, and vomit. It makes it all the sadder when Raina loses that sort of innocent fascination and sense of icky fun and has it replaced instead with fear.

Raina also wisely stays away from portraying herself as a perfect, put upon victim. She’s mouthy and obnoxious and kinda mean sometimes because dealing with mental health issues doesn’t preclude you from being a jerk.

I also like that’s there’s no simple fix here. She doesn’t figure it all out or immediately get a handle on stuff. Self care and dealing with mental health are long term, often life term commitments. Taking care of yourself is hard work!

Most importantly the book is incredibly optimistic and positive about dealing with anxiety something that, in my opinion, is possibly the most important thing to be telling young kids dealing with it. It encourages its readers to turn to the people who care about them for help and not to feel ashamed of what they’re going through.

There’s a wonderful moment at the end of the book where Raina, now more comfortable with her issues, admits to what she’s been struggling with at a sleepover with her girlfriends. To her surprise, one by one, they all reveal some of their own “secrets” and with a mix of shock and happiness Raina actually sees for herself that she’s far from the only person dealing with something that scares or upsets her.

There’s going to be many times in a child’s life when they’ll need reminding that they’re not alone in the daily struggle of just being alive. This is a great book to hand them when that happens. . more

Book Review: GUTS, by Raina Telgemeier

I knew as soon as I finished Guts by Raina Telgemeier that I needed to write about it. It was a highly anticipated book, partly due to the success of her other graphic novels. Now you may have been like me, where you are excited for kids to want to read any book, but you had no intention of reading it yourself. However, once I saw just how popular it was, I decided I needed to read it myself, and I’m so glad I did.

Guts is a memoir about a 5th grade girl, Raina, who is going through your average friend drama, but is also dealing with her own personal issues with anxiety. She is very lucky in that she’s got parents that are very supportive and try to get her the help that she needs. Raina also discovers that being honest with friends can be helpful in dealing with those sorts of issues, because sometimes you realize you’re not the only one dealing with stuff.

The thing that got me so excited about this graphic novel that centers on what anxiety can look like is that you actually get to see what anxiety looks like, and for young people this is so important. Just being able to give feelings like that a name is something that many 5th graders may not be able to do. I know there are other wonderful Middle Grade books that deal with the same or similar topics, but there is something about the graphic novel format that makes the anxiety in this book so much more accessible for so many more kids, and that makes my heart so happy.

I myself am a strong believer in kids reading graphic novels, and this story is a great example of why. So if you haven’t read Guts, hopefully I have given you some motivation to do so, or at least some motivation to recommend this book to a child you think might need it.

More and More Children Are Feeling Anxious. This Graphic Novelist Is Trying to Help.

When you’ve been in psychotherapy for as long as I have, you end up talking to your therapists from time to time about writers — Freud and Kierkegaard, let’s say, or Brené Brown and Tara Brach — whose insights might, or so you hope, have relevance to your treatment. But no writer have I pushed more fervidly on a therapist than Raina Telgemeier.

“Look at this,” I said to my psychologist a few weeks ago, thrusting some splayed-open pages of Telgemeier’s new book under his nose so urgently that he leaned back in his chair and looked a bit alarmed. “Now, read these three pages,” I said, flipping ahead. “Amazing, isn’t it?”

Though her name might conjure an image of a Teutonic psychotherapist or Kierkegaard scholar, Telgemeier is neither a psychologist nor a philosopher but rather, as nearly every American girl who has passed through elementary school in the last decade knows, a graphic novelist who writes about the social travails and family dynamics of early adolescence. Since 2010, when she overcame the prognostications of shortsighted publishing executives who claimed girls wouldn’t buy comics, she has seen one book after another propelled to the top of the best-seller lists by her avid young fans, who show up by the thousands for her appearances. Telgemeier is like the Beatles, or maybe the J. K. Rowling, of graphic novels.

What drove me to share Telgemeier’s latest book, GUTS (Scholastic, 224 pp., $24.99, ages 8 and up), with my therapist was not her rendering of the social ecology of fourth grade — though her skill at that puts her in the rarefied company of writers like Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary — but rather the accuracy and vividness with which she conveys the phenomenology of anxiety. No other book I have read on the subject — and to say I have read a lot of them is an understatement — has captured with such brilliant economy and psychological acuity what a severe phobia or panic attack is like. So spot on is her portrayal that I wondered if Telgemeier had somehow taken up residence in my amygdala.

But Telgemeier is simply drawing on — and drawing — her own experience. “Guts” is a memoir, the third she’s published, after “Smile” and “Sisters.” (She’s also written two works of original graphic fiction — “Drama” and “Ghosts” — and illustrated several books for the Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel series.) In “Guts,” a series of events propels Raina, already struggling with the sometimes nerve-racking challenges of navigating fourth grade, into a full-blown anxiety disorder, which begins to take over her life.

One reason the shock of recognition was so strong for me is that fourth-grade Raina’s main phobia happens to be the main one I struggled with as a boy (and still struggle with as an adult) — emetophobia, the pathological fear of vomiting. What’s more, the secondary anxieties and associated symptoms — debilitating phobia of germs and fears around food, intense stage fright, the indignities of a nervous, irritable bowel — that beset young Raina are the same ones I endured at that age. (These fears and symptoms commonly cluster together.) Scene after scene rang true to me, the familiarity was almost painful — in places almost a form of exposure therapy. When I was a child (and not only when I was a child), anxiety generally — and the fear of vomiting in particular — felt like a peculiar and embarrassing affliction, and I tried to hide it from my peers, out of shame and fear of stigmatization, going to great lengths to conceal my weekly visits to a psychotherapist. Raina at first endeavors to do the same.

In all three of Telgemeier’s memoirs, Raina contends with the abiding stresses of sibling rivalry and parental discord and mean girls at school. But whereas in those earlier books anxiety is merely a subtheme, an element of Raina’s personality that sometimes figures into the story, in “Guts” it is the force that drives the plot. That Telgemeier is only now, in her third memoir, telling the story of her childhood anxiety straight on could be because it took her a while to gin up the courage to write about this particular set of vulnerabilities. Or it could be because she perceived that we’ve reached a moment when a book like this could be very helpful to her audience.

Children are struggling. Over the last decade, cases of anxiety disorder in young people have increased by 20 percent or more. Rates of suicide and suicidal thinking have risen sharply among young people of all ages — including, horrifyingly, children under 11. Scholars debate why this is happening — plausible culprits include social media, video gaming, helicopter parenting, school shootings and lockdown drills, overweening college pressure, and both the over- and under-prescribing of medication, among other things — but the fact of steadily rising numbers of children with anxiety and depression is hard to dispute.

Telgemeier is not, in a book aimed at third to eighth graders, out to solve the mystery of this rise or limn its sociological roots. What she does do, in keeping with the mode of her previous books, is provide a remarkably well-rendered and accessible first-person account of what it’s like to experience clinical anxiety as a 10-year-old girl — which, I can say with authority, is also pretty much what it’s like to experience clinical anxiety as a 10-year-old boy.

Though Telgemeier’s drawing style owes more to the exaggerated caricatures of newspaper comic strips — the bright colors and the simple features — than to the straight realism or stylized grittiness of graphic novels aimed at older readers, her images convey emotional depth and resonance that belie their cartoony aesthetic. Telgemeier has said that she modeled her early comic strips after Bill Watterson’s “Calvin &amp, Hobbes,” where moments of antic silliness give way suddenly to moments of emotional profundity, and Lynn Johnston’s “For Better or for Worse,” where the day-to-day accretion of domestic detail and psychological portraiture yields an effect that is almost novelistic. Those influences are still evident. If Judy Blume wrote graphic novels, this is what they would look like.

In a few deft panels early in “Guts,” Telgemeier illustrates the moment when young Raina’s phobia first fully breaks through. It is the only sequence of three consecutive full-page panels in the book. Few words of narration appear on these pages (“I didn’t puke. But the thought that I might … was worse than if I actually had”), the images do the work. In the first panel, Raina, enveloped by a sickly green, suffers acute nausea that leaves her shaking and sweating on the bathroom floor. In the second, Raina is clinging to the floor tiles by her fingertips, trying to keep from falling into an abyss. In the third, she loses her grip with a cry, plunging back into her actual bathroom, where she lies quaking in a fetal curl as her parents look on in bewilderment, she has fallen into a new and terrifying existence. It is simple, frightening and psychologically realistic.

As viscerally rendered as Raina’s plunge into phobic misery is, her climb out of it, with the assistance of a kindly therapist named Lauren who helps her understand that she can survive even the worst of her anxiety, feels gratifyingly and realistically hopeful, the reader exhales with Raina as she begins both to transcend the worst of her anxiety and to rise above the pettiness and misunderstanding that beset fourth-grade social relations.

Could this book not merely entertain kids, but actually help the struggling ones with their anxiety? “Guts” captures with remarkable concision and accuracy, and without ever going outside of 10-year-old Raina’s perspective, some of the theoretical concepts and applied techniques that underlie treatment of anxiety. But what will reverberate in the trembling psyches of anxious kids is the recognition that they are not alone in their suffering. Watching Raina endure something like what they may be going through, and then partly triumph over it, provides solace and consolation and possibly hope. I suspect that if I’d read it when I was 10, my perspective on my own anxious adolescent misery would have been helpfully enlarged by the recognition of my own struggles in Raina’s.

“Guts” is dedicated to “anyone who feels afraid.” For anyone that includes, this book’s warmth, humanity and humor — it ends with a sonorous and well-earned fart — provides a balm more soul-soothing than any pill.

“Fans of Smile and Sisters will find this an equally compelling read, full of wisdom, humor, and Telgemeier’s engaging visual storytelling.”

Like her earlier graphic novels Smile and Sisters, Raina Telgemeier’s Guts is an autobiographical tale focusing on her early years (in this case, fifth grade). With wit, compassion, and loads of visual flair, it tells of young Raina coming to grips with her fears and growing in her understanding of the world.

The story opens in the middle of the night, when both Raina and her mother experience stomachaches and end up vomiting. Thinking it’s just a bug going around, Raina eventually shrugs it off. At school, she’s already got plenty to distract her: mean girls, boys who love gross-out humor, friends entering puberty, and the usual challenges of early adolescence. Her classmates are merciless. A kid who vomits and drops his writing utensil in it is thereafter known by the nickname, Pencil Puke. As a self-described “nervous kid,” Raina desperately wants to avoid attracting that kind of attention.

In conversations with her friends, Raina happily details her family’s weird eating habits:

“My little brother, Will, eats baby carrots, taco shells, grated cheddar cheese and raw spaghetti. That’s it. My mom’s perfect meal—get this—is a glass of milk, a steamed artichoke, and mayonnaise.”

But when her queasiness and stomachaches return, she’s reluctant to share that knowledge with her classmates. Telgemeier’s visual rendering of that sick feeling is surrealistic and inventive, perfectly amplifying the scene’s emotions. As her stomach challenges continue, Raina’s mother takes her to the doctor, who pronounces her “healthy as a horse.” But the pains and queasiness don’t stop.

Soon, anything that worries Raina (speaking in front of the class, seeing someone else vomit, etc.) causes that about-to-puke sensation. She abandons her oral report, flees from the sick kids in the nurse’s office, and gags when she discovers her mom’s leftover artichoke in her lunch bag. For her, the fear of vomiting is worse than the act itself.

Raina does find some bright spots—her cartooning, her best friend, Calvin &amp, Hobbes—but her condition worsens. Finally, her mother takes her to visit a therapist. Raina doesn’t see the point: “Why do I have to go to therapy to talk about that?” she asks. But her mom convinces her to continue.

Other stressors appear in her life. Her best friend starts getting chummy with the mean girl. Other friends entering puberty treat her like she’s excluded from some private club. Ultimately, the therapy sessions give Raina the courage to examine her fears and address them in some unexpected ways.

Throughout, Telgemeier’s simple yet sophisticated artwork leads the way, amplifying the story and making it relatable to readers, and indeed, to anyone dealing with their fears. Fans of Smile and Sisters will find this an equally compelling read, full of wisdom, humor, and Telgemeier’s engaging visual storytelling.

Review of Guts

In this graphic memoir chronicling her fourth-grade year, Telgemeier (Smile, Sisters, rev. 11/14) shares her childhood experiences with anxiety. A bout with a stomach bug ushers in emetophobia (fear of vomiting), leaving young Raina trembling and plagued by digestion issues during moments of insecurity, as when making a class presentation.

Raina Telgemeier, illus. by the author, color by Braden Lamb
Intermediate Graphix/Scholastic 215 pp. g
9/19 978-0-545-85251-7 $24.99
Paper ed. 978-0-545-85250-0 $12.99
e-book ed. 978-0-545-85253-1 $7.99

In this graphic memoir chronicling her fourth-grade year, Telgemeier (Smile, Sisters, rev. 11/14) shares her childhood experiences with anxiety. A bout with a stomach bug ushers in emetophobia (fear of vomiting), leaving young Raina trembling and plagued by digestion issues during moments of insecurity, as when making a class presentation. As her phobia worsens, she starts missing school, limiting what she eats, and engaging in compulsive behaviors to self-soothe and manage her loss of self-control. Her parents take her to a therapist, who guides her in coping with her phobia and panic attacks. Sensitively capturing the traumas of anxiety (“Can you be sick even if you’re not sick? Can you be healthy even if you hurt?” Raina wonders), Telgemeier also addresses the insecurities of tween female friendships, the stigma of therapy, and the onset of puberty. She expertly uses scale and perspective to animate the terror of panic attacks, in one bile-colored spread, Raina falls through the very floor tiles, gasping and screaming. There’s a fair amount of bodily-function humor — the book’s last panel features a big “FARRRRRT!” — but it’s never at the expense of the book’s serious subject matter. In a closing note, Telgemeier recommends that readers experiencing anxiety talk to a trusted adult and acknowledges that her own anxiety is ongoing but manageable, “just part of who I am.”

From the September/October 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.