cover image Zebrafish


Rebecca Kai Dotlich, . . S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-1-4424-0454-0

This slow-paced and melancholic graphic novel for children opens to kids goofing around with musical video games and ends with them actually making a difference with music. This is in part thanks to Vita, a girl who dyes her hair and wants to have a rock group named Zebrafish, thus explaining the name. One member of the group is a girl who announces she has leukemia, a proclamation that spins Vita's thoughts to dark and sad places. Rather than take the news lying down, Vita wants to see if her music can raise awareness and funds for a children's research hospital. Surprisingly, it takes a while for this part of the story to come in, but once it does, it's quite powerful. The rest of the book is taken up by the usual hijinks and fun of keeping the band together. The sketchy art has the stylized look of a cable cartoon, which is fitting since the characters are also being adapted as a Web cartoon. The lack of backgrounds and details keep the focus squarely on the characters and their motivations. Ages 10–14. (May)