The eternal smile : three stories / by Gene Luen Yang & Derek Kirk Kim.

Main Author: Yang, Gene Luen.
Other Authors: Kim, Derek Kirk
Published: New York : First Second, 2009.
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Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* This dream-team matchup of Yang (American Born Chinese, 2006) and Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories, 2004) brings together three strikingly different graphic short stories. Which is accurate to a point, because in reality (or fantasy, depending on how you want to look at it) there are six stories, as each tale wends its way into a world-shifting denouement that reveals a mirror narrative. In the first, a comic-fantasy adventure, a plucky young knight vanquishes monsters to win the princess's love. In the second, a wacky cartoon spoof on Uncle Scrooge, a tycoon frog's latest wealth-grabbing scheme leads him to create an entire religion around a mysterious smile in the sky. In the last, a lonely peon trapped in a humdrum working world falls prey to e-mail fraud. Revealing what each of the stories is really about would kill the fun, but suffice it to say that what unites them all is escapism, and not as a negative connotation. You can escape into creativity, flee the limiting confines foisted on you by others, or dream of a sunnier world to inhabit. Visually, each story is a world unto itself, drastically different from the others but defined by a well-polished sensibility that works wonders in concert with the multi-layered themes being explored. Absolutely not to be missed by anyone who welcomes the leaps available solely to graphic storytelling.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This collaboration between multiple-award winners Yang (American Born Chinese) and Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories) is an eagerly awaited event that actually pays off. Yang writes and Kim illustrates in a medley of different styles united by meticulous detail, almost throwaway beauty and riveting storytelling. All three stories deal with levels of fantasy and how humans use it to escape or transcend everyday tedium and suffering. In "Duncan's Kingdom," a fairy tale about a brave youth, beautiful princess and dastardly frog king is played out; the fantasy is so note perfect that the truth of the situation comes as a shock. In "The Eternal Smile," Gran'pa Greenbax is an avaricious frog whose moneymaking schemes are first boosted then dashed by the appearance of a mysterious, peaceful smile in the sky. Riffing off classic Disney comic books and evangelical cliches, it's a sharp satire far more complex than it first appears. In "Urgent Request," Janet, a schlumpy drone at a tech company, answer a Nigerian scam e-mail to liven up her drab life. However, her motives are not as they originally appear. Shattering the borders between our real and fantasy lives, these bold, masterfully crafted fables have real staying power. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

The Truman Show meets Bill Willingham's "Fables" series. Two top-notch graphic artists tell three very different stories. In the first, a young and valiant knight slays a giant and discovers that the real battle is still ahead. In the second, the froggy star of a popular children's show makes a grand escape. And in the third, a meek office worker imagines life as a Nigerian queen when she answers an email spam by offering her life savings to the sender. Why It Is for Us: Who is the Great Oz behind the curtain? In each of these deftly illustrated stories, reality is not what it first appears to be. The front cover of this graphic collection features a sunshine-y smile, a promise that light will be shed on the human condition in a warm and satisfying way. -Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Gr 9 Up-Yang and Kim are expert storytellers and work well together here to present three tales with fablelike takeaways. "Duncan" seems to be a hero story set in a lush medieval Europe, with the titular character embarking on an iconic quest to win the hand of the fair lady-except for odd visual details that crop up, such as the frumpy and definitely modern woman holding her bespectacled head in her hands and the apparently magic Snappy Cola bottle. The turn from fantasy to Duncan's reality is made smoothly and doesn't ask readers to appreciate its cleverness so much as to recognize how fantasy can, indeed, aid real healing. The volume's title story starts off as a riff on capitalism and religious gullibility involving talking frogs and then makes a hairpin turn with the revelation that a broadcast tycoon has blended America's tastes for Saturday morning cartoons and reality shows. In "Urgent Request," a contemporary cubicle inhabitant allows herself to fall for the fraudulent Nigerian royalty email plea for cash, but thereby gains the strength she needs to confront her abusive boss. Artwork in each of the stories is stylistically different and wholly appropriate to the theme of the specific tale. Smart teens will enjoy this thoroughly and will push it into friends'-and hopefully even adults'-hands for discussions around topics ranging from political insights to how narrative creates personal identity.-Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.