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Zebrafish Hardcover – May 4, 2010
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5–9—Vita is having a hard time making friends and meeting people at her new school until the day she holds auditions for her rock band Zebrafish. While she has big hopes and dreams for the group, she's disappointed with the kids' musical talents. However, she finds skills and abilities in these new bandmates, and they all work together to create a music video. As the band plans and strategizes, Vita can't help but be disappointed that one member continually misses meetings. Then she learns that Tanya has leukemia, and Zebrafish holds a fundraising concert to help the hospital get the medical equipment it needs. Illustrations vary greatly in size and color; some are full page, some are full spreads, and others appear in panels. All are uncluttered and easy to follow. Clear and sharply inked, the color art makes a fine contrast between light and dark scenes and creates balance and tone throughout. This book will speak to children about fighting for a cure/treatment for cancer and shows the value of involvement in this important issue.—Janet Weber, Tigard Public Library, OR
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Several friends, led by the purple-haired Vita, try to figure out how to make their band work despite the fact that no one knows how to play anything. But when Vita, whose older brother is a cancer researcher, learns that band-member Tanya has leukemia, she begins to wonder how their upcoming performance might be put to a greater good. Emerson’s graphic novel (developed with Peter Reynolds’ FableVision media company) succeeds on several levels: the characters are credibly diverse in personality and appearance, and their individual stories are carefully twisted into a full and complex story arc. Additionally, information about leukemia’s physical toll on a young patient and research methods to combat it are integrated cleanly and without didacticism. Full-color panels vary in size and shape, with scenes moving from the stage to a soda shop to the back corridors of the hospital. Gentler and for a younger crowd than Judd Winick’s Pedro and Me (2000), this bouncy cartoon story nonetheless mines equally serious territory, and stands a good chance of finding wide popularity to boot. Grades 5-8. --Francisca Goldsmith
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Top customer reviews
The story follows a teenager's experience forming a band in her new school. Bringing a diverse group of teens together, they decide to hold a benefit concert. Dealing with issues such as medical research and diseases that impact young people, the book is an outstanding example of the role of young adult literature presenting tough real-world topics in meaningful ways.
The visuals and graphic story presentation is outstanding. However the story itself seemed a little disjointed. For instance, it took a while for me to figure out that Vita was living with her brother without parents. The story moved quickly, so there wasn't much time for character development. It would be interesting to know the backstory of each character.
Overall the book met it's goal as a realistic fiction graphic novel for young people. It's also a nice example of the growing area of transmedia storytelling. The project began as an alternative reality game at Generation Cures at http://www.generationcures.org/. Elements became a Zebrafish website with webisodes at http://www.zebrafish.com/ and ultimately a graphic novel. Fun interactive elements such as comic makers extend the experience when you join the free network. You can even download the song from the book. In the past books led to media, but in this case, the technology led to the book.
For those that think graphic novels are simply violent comics about superheroes, this should change some minds.
This is a nice book. The artwork is well done. The colours bright, the kids different shapes, colours, styles and income brackets and yet they all get along fine. One girl, Tanya, has leukemia, though she doesn't tell anyone for most of the book. This girl is also very much into volunteering and causes, save the pandas, that sort of thing. The other girl, Vita, wants to start a rock band because she can play guitar and sing. The boys join the band, Tanya starts writing activist songs for her pandas and eventually everybody makes an impression and feels good about themselves that they've accomplished something. The money from their first show went to the hospital to buy a piece of machinery that will help with cancer research.
The book is simple to read; there are pages with no text or only small amounts and the text and illustrations really do go hand in hand to tell the story here. A perfect example of the graphic format telling a complete story with character development and minor backgrounds. I'm not really pumped about this book, though. I know it has received good reviews but for me, it just didn't do anything. I didn't connect. I'd already started to forget the story as I sat to write this review the next day and had to flip through the book and read the flap to refresh my memory. I don't have any specific complaints; I don't regret the half hour spent reading it but it's just not a book that will stay with me or that I'd put on any recommended lists. Some books are just OK and this is one of them, doesn't mean there's anything wrong with that.
The good thing about ZEBRAFISH is that it's never overly preachy about doing good. The characters are diverse and I'm sure readers will find someone to relate to. Tanya's illness is touched on, but this isn't a cancer book. This is more a story about finding friends and putting your talents to work for a good cause.
Because there are a lot of main characters, you never really get to fully know each one, and I would love more back story about each of the band members. I'm glad to know there will be another ZEBRAFISH book coming, so hopefully we get to know the band more.
Even though the story deals with some hard topics, the book never feels weighed down by that storyline, which I think will give it lots of appeal for readers who want a realistic story that's not issue-heavy. The artwork is bright and colorful and will appeal to fans of comics and graphic novels.
I would give this one to tweens looking for a realistic fiction comic book, and it would be a great book to start a discussion about fundraising and volunteering.
Reviewed by: Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen
Zebrafish is a different kind of graphic novel. The pages hold so many positive and inspirational themes that it leaves the reader feeling that they can change the world. It does this with a touching story of a lonely girl who at first dreams of being a rock star, but realizes that there is more to life than stardom.
My 9 year old just started the book and already he can't put it down. The characters are diverse and detailed enough that just about everyone will find someone that they can identify with. It is a great read that I recommend to anyone of any age.