From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–Madden, an admirer of French comic artist Aristophane, has translated this 1996 work. The tender and evocative narrative chronicles the first day of summer vacation on the sultry Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Opening panels move readers inside a home's shuttered window and introduce three sleeping sisters: M'Rose, Elle, and Célina. The girls awaken and their day unfolds with summer delights and discoveries: they catch crab at the river, steal mangoes, experiment with a stolen pipe, witness a fight between rivaling boys, suffer the intoxicating effects of rum, taunt and teas friends, and engage in constant sibling rivalry. The text is coupled with expressive images that offer glimpses into the personality of each character and allow the story to slowly unfold. The interplay among the siblings and each girl's singular response to events allow readers to establish a personal connection with each sister. The artist's dry brush technique and controlled use of line, mastery of light and shadow, interesting and unusual framing, and expressive facial close-ups are compelling. Readers will visualize both the unique and universal aspects of this day of freedom for these girls. Back matter includes an afterword and a discussion guide.–Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NYα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Aristophane was a French writer and artist who produced only a handful of comics works before his untimely death in 2007. The first of these to make it to the U.S. is the story of three sisters who live on the Caribbean Island of Guadalupe. We follow them on the way to see a fight between two local boys, one a notorious bully, while they engage in universal childhood pursuits that Tom Sawyer himself would have recognized: exploring the dangerous parts of the forest, stealing mangoes from the wrong orchard, sneaking a taste of rum to their own detriment. The writer proves deft at revealing the politics of childhood—the negotiations, cruelties, and kindnesses that exist between friends and especially between sisters—and the white expanses and thick, inky lines of his art readily evoke not only the proper emotions but also the sun-drenched environment. Lyrical, even literary in its tone, The Zabime Sisters is for developed readers looking for something off the beaten path. Includes suggested discussion questions. Grades 7-10. --Jesse Karp