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The Eternal Smile

by Gene Yuen Yang
Illustrated by Derek Kirk Kim

Published by First Second, 2009
170 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59643-156-0

Ages 13 and older

Three short graphic novel stories speak to the power of the imagination as the means of escape, exploitation, and transformation. In “Duncan’s Kingdom,” a brave young knight-in-training is on the verge of marrying a beautiful princess when a bottle of “Snappy Cola” appears. It’s the first crack in the powerful fantasy life of an unconscious teenage boy escaping from guilty feelings and his real-world existence. In “Gran’pa Greenbax and the Eternal Smile,” a greedy frog tries using the appearance of a smile in the sky as the means to more wealth when he establishes a church to worship it, only to discover he was nothing more than a pawn in someone else’s profitable fantasy world. In “Urgent Request,” a meek, downtrodden office worker is passed over for promotion and ends up seeking solace in her e-mail exchanges with a Nigerian prince in need of money. Although he turns out to be a nerdy college student on the make, she imagines herself loved and valued in the fantasy she spins from their correspondence and later summons those feelings to demand she be treated fairly. The three stories are rendered in three distinctive visual styles. Each one stands on its own, but collectively they offer intriguing perspectives of fantasy, reality, and what can happen in the space between. CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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