Friday, May 1, 2009

The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang

1The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim 2009 170 Pages 4.75/5 The Eternal Smile arrived in my mailbox yesterday and I quickly zipped through it. I fell in love with Yang's work instantly after reading American Born Chinese and knew that he would be one of those authors that I'd follow throughout his career right away. He's a master of the modern graphic novel. His stories tend to be moving, comical and extremely relevant. These are no exception. The Eternal Smile tells three different stories, yet they all have a uniting theme. Searching for an answer, looking for a better way of life, hoping for a way to cure life's woes. We've all been there at times and Yang empathizes with us through these three unique stories. The first story is Duncan's Kingdom. This story tells the tale of a young boy who is living4 in a fantasy world where he must bring back the head of a frog in order to avenge a princess' father's death and earn her hand in marriage. But there is something that distracts him along the way which eventually leads him to discover the true meaning of his quest. This is perhaps my favorite type of story...a tale that tackles the subject of emotional trauma through the escape of fairy tales. As Yang did with American Born Chinese, he surprised me with the ending. He does that with the next story as well. 2Second story is entitled Gran'pa Greenbax and The Eternal Smile. This story centers around a frog that has a hunger for money. A hunger that is insatiable. When he gets all of the money in the world, he still isn't satisfied...he just wants more. And it doesn't matter to him what he does to get it or how it affects those around him. He's run out of ways to make money until his assistant finds something beautiful, an eternal smile. It's a smile that sits in the sky in the desert. The frog finds a way to make money off of this wonder by opening "the church of the eternal smile" and soliciting donations through his evangelical ways. But he is soon to learn that all of the money can't make him a happy person. Another fantastic story. Finally, we have a story told through delicate art that is just so beautiful called Urgent 3Request. In this story, a young girl is unhappy at her job. She dedicates all of her time to her job but when she asks her boss for a raise and promotion, she is denied it and dismissed. She goes back to her desk and gets one of those spam emails from a "prince in Nigeria" who wants her to just send her banking information so that he can transfer $350,000,000 into her account. And she may be the only person in the world who falls for it. But in doing so, she makes friends with the sender of the emails and gets lost in a dream world that offers her every wish. This was a sad little story, but I rather liked it. All of these tales are wonderfully told with the help of Derek Kirk Kim. The art in the book is truly amazing. Each story has a very distinct art style and I truly LOVED the art in Urgent Request. The use of soft colors and mini characters really made the story have that much more of an effect on the reader. I can't wait to see the rest of the blogging world discover this treasure of a book. I smell Printz possibilities again!

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