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Bluefish Hardcover – September 13, 2011

40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A lovely, understated book that celebrates the possibility of a kind and humane friendship between an eighth-grade girl and boy...this novel is also an ode to the significance of reading in the lives of young people and to a teacher who knows the power literature can wield. Unique and original, believable and poignant, this is a book with power of its own.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

Readers seeking emotional warmth, congenial humor, and an affirmation of forgiveness and friendship will cozy up to these characters.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

Despite the weighty problems the characters face-grief, alcoholism, and bullying among them-Bluefish is a lively, often-humorous, and ultimately hopeful page-turner. It has all the hallmarks of a classic contemporary young adult issues novel. It's packed with memorable and believable characters and powered by the prospect of redemption and just a hint of romance.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

About the Author

Pat Schmatz is the author of three previous novels for teens. She lives in rural Wisconsin.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763653349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763653347
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #851,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pat Schmatz is the author of five novels for teens. Lizard Radio (Candlewick 2015) will be available in September of 2015.

Bluefish (Candlewick 2011) won the PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship while still a work in progress. It was awarded Bank Street College of Education's 2012 Josette Frank Award for fiction and the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the midwest. It is a Junior Library Guild Selection, an ALA Notable Children's Book, and winner of the Wisconsin Library Association's Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award.

Other novels are Mousetraps (Carolrhoda 2008), Circle the Truth (Carolrhoda 2007) and Mrs. Estronsky and the UFO (Little Blue Works 2001).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Young Mensan BookParade on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"Bluefish" is about a boy named Travis who moves to a new town with his Grandpa after his dog runs away. While there, he meets Velveeta, a girl who is very... unique and has a drunk mother, a old dead man who used to be her best friend, and many, many, scarves. He also meets Bradley, a scrawny kid who is nerdy, is addicted to "Halo", and insists that Travis should ask Velveeta out.

Kids will probably like this book for it's funny and is a good story at times. If you want to laugh and cry in one big story, this is for you.

One of the best parts of the book was the "Velveeta on ___day" sections because I liked the other views of the story and additional character development. Another good part was when Travis learns the truth about what happened.

This book's humor is more for older kids, since jokes about sex and prostitution are common. Also, this book talks about death and fighting, but some humor is for a younger audience. I would say probably it's in the age range of 12-16.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars, for while it's funny, it tries to appeal to everybody, making it a little weird. Also when it ends, you don't notice it, and it seems like there are a few more chapters that were just cut out.

Review by Young Mensan Deven, age 13
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steven R. McEvoy on November 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Few books have as immediate an impact on me as this book. As someone who grew up with a learning disability, a dual form of dyslexia, reading this book was much like reliving some of my own childhood. Schmatz does an amazing job of capturing the feelings, emotions and immense frustration of having a learning disability and being different from other people. She captures the sense of being an outsider at school and the embarrassment of going out to special education classes. She also captures how that frustration can lead to physical outbursts as it often seems like the only outlet available.

Our cast of characters includes Travis, a young man with anger issues, and a learning disability who is living with a recovering alcoholic grandfather; Mr. McQueen, who is more than just a teacher, but also an educator; he knows how to reach students that others give up on. He is the type of teacher we all need at one point or another in our life, who really connects with us. And the immensely enjoyable Velveeta, a young woman in the special education class also who is an outsider but one with a big heart.

As these characters and their stories start to intertwine, we have a story that unmasks us as readers. With such strong believable characters this story is driven both by the action and the silences between the characters. As Travis and Velveeta begin to trust each other, they make a connection to one another, and that connection is the beginning of their own process of growth and healing. This book was an amazing read, and I know that it is one I will read over and over again.

Schmatz has written a book that should become a classic in Children's literature. It should really be required reading for all middle school children to help them see the people and world around them differently. This book was so amazing that I bought and read two other of Pat Schmatz's books in under a week. Get it! It will not disappoint.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Hruby Powell on March 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In Pat Schmatz's "Bluefish" (Candlewick 2011), Travis, 13, has to move into town and live with Grandpa. Travis' heart is broken over his lost hound, Roscoe. And school is painful.
Grandpa has stopped drinking, but Travis knows it won't last.
The only bright spark in his life is classmate, Velveeta, who is the liveliest, flirtiest girl, who wears old lady scarves--different colors every day--with her hoody.
Velveeta inherited the scarves from Calvin, the old man who lived in the next trailer, the one who bought her school supplies each year, who helped her build confidence, but now he's died. Actually, the scarves belonged to Calvin's wife, but she's been gone for years.
Travis and Velveeta's stories alternate. Taciturn Travis is voiced in the third person, which is perfect for his strong silent character. Vivacious Velveeta, in the first person, writes to Calvin. So we get to see what Travis is feeling and Velveeta shows her feelings. Perfect.
Travis and Velveeta like each other--really like each other--but relationship is complicated between two eighth graders, especially when each has a big secret. Can they trust each other? Help each other? You want it for them. They are both so likeable. And believable.
If Velveeta goes home to her own trailer, she must suffer her selfish alcoholic mother, so she moves into Calvin's empty trailer. Until she gets kicked out by Calvin's grown daughter.
Travis cuts class and sets out on foot to the country to find his dog. When the trip goes wrong, Travis acts like a kicked dog. Back at school he snaps at Velveeta.
Velveeta, clever girl, figures out Travis' big secret just as you, the reader, will. She tries to help him, but she's just a kid and maybe a little awkward in helping. Travis snaps again.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Megan Orme-Whitlock on March 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I don't know quite what I was expecting when I started this book, but it certainly wasn't this book. The edition that I have has a blue cover with a blue fish on it, and of course it made me think of 'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish'. And that is important, but not for a while, unless you get it early on.

Travis has had to move, with his grandfather, to a smaller house and a new school. He has new teachers to get used to and new peers. He is also missing his dog, Rosco.

On his first day at the new school a shoe lands next to him, while he is trying to open his locker. As he tries to work out what has happened, he notices a kid walking past, with only one shoe on. 'A head bobbed down the hall toward him, dipping with a one shoe walk. the guy was small, and Travis figured him for a seventh grader, maybe even sixth. He had deep brown skin and hair cropped too short to kink, and he carried a nice new over-the-shoulder book bag. He was very tucked in and tidy except for his shoeless left foot. His right foot wore a new white Nike.' Travis 'bumps' the shoe into the kids hand and gets on with his day. Staying in the background.

Until he meets Velveeta, 'My public calls me Velveeta', a girl in his reading class, Room 134, and then the self-proclaimed 'subversive' Mr McQueen (Considering Velveeta's passion for film, I'm guessing the name McQueen is an allusion). Mr McQueen reaches Travis in a way that other teachers haven't, 'a short, round balding guy with glasses came out of his office at the front of the room, spotted Travis and walked over.'

What I love about this book is its richness and its natural reference to so many books and so many films. One after the other, little jewels are spilt throughout. Velveeta and travis take their turns in telling their stories and you care equally about each.

I highly recommend this book!
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