The Sigh (Archaia)

Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis and Chicken With Plums, now brings readers a whimsical fairy tale about a young girl who uses her wits and tenacity to save her true love and restore the Kingdom of Sighs.


56 pgs. full color; $10.95 hardcover
(W / A: Marjane Satrapi)
Following its debuts in France and Spain, readers of Marjane Satrapi’s internationally recognized works Persepolis and Chicken with Plums are finally getting The Sigh! Satrapi departs from her usual vignettes of the life and times of herself and her family to bring readers something of a classic fairytale. The story begins, like all good fairy tales do, with a loving father raising his three daughters: Orchid, Violet, and Rose. His wife has, of course, passed away, and Rose (being the youngest) is naturally the brightest and fairest of the three. The girls’ father is a traveler by trade, and to make up for his frequent stints away from home by bringing his daughters whatever fantastic gift they request. But, when Rose requests the seed of the blue bean plant, her father cannot deliver. Disappointed, Rose sighs—and thus summons Ah the Sigh, who presents the coveted blue bean! Rose’s father, ecstatic that his promise to his daughter has been fulfilled, like all fairytale fathers, promises Ah that he will one day return the favor, no matter what it is. Little surprise, then, when a year later Ah arrives to take Rose to the Kingdom of Sighs. Perhaps predictably, it is in the Kingdom of Sighs that Rose falls in love with the Prince of Sighs. But, when she accidentally takes the breath of life from her love, Rose has to search the world to discover how to right her wrong.
For a mere 56 pages, The Sigh is a spunky little tale that would be at home next to any anthology of fables. A quick and easy read, The Sigh entertains, and has no heavy-handed message except perhaps that one must be smart, brave and persistent to achieve their goals. That the main character is a girl who owns up when she makes a mistake and seeks to fix it is doubly satisfactory; no wailing or aimless wandering for Rose. At first, readers of Greek mythology may feel as though Satrapi is merely retelling the story of Cupid and Psyche, but she quickly makes this story her own, and Rose’s subsequent actions are more Arabian Nights than Disney.
Unlike Satrapi’s previous works, The Sigh is not in graphic-novel format, but more an “Easy Reader” style, with large print and “block” illustrations throughout the pages, representing some sentence or scene. Although Satrapi’s art has always been of a simplistic style, perhaps in keeping with the fairytale/child’s story theme The Sigh’s artwork really does look like a child’s drawing. Satrapi utilizes large, simple arrangements like a shadowy figure standing behind a door, or standalone images such as hands holding a pot of oil. Additionally, the outlining has the texture and feel of being done with a black crayon, and all the illustrations use flat, simple colors. This, of course, is part of the fun of The Sigh; a savvy tale that really needs little embellishment.
Throughout this story, readers can tell that Satrapi is clearly having fun writing this fable. So, if you’re ready to have some fun revisiting your childhood, journey to the Kingdom of Sighs and pick up this latest creation from Marjane Satrapi. | Elizabeth Schweitzer

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