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The Blog of Gene Luen Yang
Eternal Smile Bookclub Discussion Questions 


A friend was kind enough to suggest The Eternal Smile to her bookclub. She asked my wife for some discussion questions to help make her case.

Here's what we came up with:

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1. In each story of The Eternal Smile, the main character makes a dishonorable choice that eventually leads to the truth. Duncan breaks his promise to the Frog King. Gran'pa Greenbax lets his temper get the better of him and murders Filbert. Janet manipulates Steve into going on a date with her. In each case, do you believe the end result justifies the means?

2. In "Duncan's Kingdom", the reader's understanding of Brother Patchwork's role changes as the story progresses. Eventually, it's revealed that Brother Patchwork is really Duncan himself. Have you ever had an experience where your understanding of yourself changed? What caused the change?

3. In "Gran'pa Greenbax and the Eternal Smile," all the frog characters are deeply flawed. Who do you believe is the most heroic? Why?

4. In "Urgent Request," Janet and Steve use each other for their own ends. Do you believe that they eventually establish an authentic relationship despite this? Why or why not?

5. The three stories present three different relationships between fantasy and reality. Which is the harshest on fantasy? Which is the most forgiving?

6. Consider your own use of fantasy media (movies, videogames, television), and that of your friends and relatives. Which of the three stories most closely reflects your own views of fantasy?

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Thought it might be good to share, just in case... you know... somebody else wants to use The Eternal Smile for their bookclub. :)

Got any discussion questions of your own? Let me know!

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Smile! 


There are some amazing graphic novel memoirs out there -- I think nowadays it's the second most popular comics genre after superheroes -- but very few of them are appropriate for middle schoolers. Raina Telgemeier's Smile fills that gap brilliantly.

In her preteen years, Raina had a painful accident that robbed her of her two front teeth. This full-color, beautifully illustrated graphic novel details all the drama that followed, both inside and outside the dentist's office.

Raina's got a lovely, consistent style that I've always admired (and been a little jealous of)...bits of Lynn Johnston mixed in with a charm that's all her own. If your childhood best friend were a cartooning style, she would look like a line from Raina's pen.

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The Genius of Shiga 
Last month, Bay Area comics genius Jason Shiga unleashed his masterpiece:



If you want to see the sort of crazy formalist oomph-itude the comics medium is capable of, you need to go buy this book now. It will pop your mind grapes. Seriously.

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