Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Eternal Smile

The Eternal Smile: Three Stories
A fantastical adventure through the worlds we live in and the worlds we create. From Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
come three tales, the story of a prince who defeats his greatest enemy only to discover that maybe his world is not what it had
seemed. The story of a frog who finds that just being a frog might be the way to go. The story of a women who receives an e-
mail from Prince Henry of Nigeria asking for a loan to help save his family and gives it to him. These stories are held together

through the themes of greed and escapism. The first story Duncan's Kingdom is a medieval fantasy about

a young knight,(Duncan) who is in the service of a king that gets killed but evil agents. This quick plot is very

straightforward, but makes everything seem kind of cloudy and leaves it up to the reader to figure it out. There’s a twist in the

story where things turn out not to be just what they seem, though Duncan does show more than enough heroism before it’s all

done. Gran’pa Greenbax starts off looking like a parody “Uncle Scrooge," with the characters transformed to frogs: Gran’pa

Greenbax is a nastier, greedier version of Scrooge, and all of the other characters fall into place. Gran’pa does eventually find

peace, in a sense, but the story doesn’t end in anything like the way it begins,and leaves the reader in awe. Then the third

story, Urgent Request, is about an office assistant, Janet Ho, whom no one respects. The art for most of this story is in moody

blue tones, with few panels scattered across the pages, to add to the depressed, isolated feeling you get while reading this

story. She then she gets one of those Nigerian-prince scam e-mails, and gives her banking information to her “Prince

Henry.” Urgent Request has some twists itself, but they’re all on the same level as the original story the first two stories

in Eternal Smile have story-changing where you know it is wrong changes. All these story seem to be modern day fables

revisited and have the comic type feel to them. According to the copyright at the end, Yang wrote the stories and Kim drew

them. Kim’s work is impressive because all the stories have different type of artwork styles in them. Duncan has a

high fantasy look, Gran’pa has crisp, clean-lined styles, and Request has more of an american type

look to it. For those of you who were fans of American Born Chinese, this book is very different from it. While it does have

the three stories with the same theme as did American Born Chinese, that is the only similarity throughout the book. I was a

little disappointed because I did not enjoy this book as much as I did with American Born Chinese. These books are great for

middle school children who do not enjoy reading because this has art work and pictures to help tell the story, that most books

do not have for children this age.

1 comment:

VCaste said...

I LOVED American Born Chinese, which instantly intrigued me into reading your post. This book seems to offer a different kind of moral than ABC but I'm sure it is brilliant because Gene Luen Yang is incredibly talented! I think his stories surpass your typical graphic novel and really delve into deeper issues that are substantial enough to adults as well as teens. I am definitely going out to get this book and check it out!