Reviews for Zebrafish

Booklist Reviews 2010 March #2
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.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Teenager Vita is trying to start a band called Zebrafish when she learns that one of her group members is undergoing chemotherapy. This leads to to a benefit concert to buy medical equipment that will help her sick friend. Though overtly message-driven (it's good to help others), this graphic novel presents an unusual topic and a likable bunch of characters. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 April #2
Created by Peter H. Reynolds's media studio, FableVision, this heavy-handed graphic novel depicts a predictably multicultural bunch that starts a band and works despite their differences. Punky Vita yearns for fame and, with the help of her brother Pablo, who works in a hospital researching drugs, decides to follow her true calling. A well-placed sign leads to the formation of Zebrafish, a band made up of Vita, darker-skinned, overweight Plinko, skinny Jay, aloof, artistically gifted Walt and his sister, Tanya, who is suffering from leukemia. This quintet ultimately wants to use their music and art to make the world a better place. The group--so tritely composed they could have sung backup for a certain large purple dinosaur--displays little genuine personality. On a positive note, those who relate to the do-gooder message will be delighted that a portion of the proceeds benefits the Children's Hospital Boston; otherwise the overall story lacks any real cohesion, tending more toward the didactic than dynamic. An odd and stultifying mixture of bland and saccharine. (Graphic fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 May

Gr 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

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