Posts tagged friendship

Zebrafish

Zebrafish

 

presented by Peter H. Reynolds and FableVision

written by Sharon Emerson

drawn by Renée Kurilla 

graphic novel 

 

A sense of loneliness pervades the beginning of this graphic novel, which presents a glimpse of six young adult characters, most notably showing purple haired Vita and her older brother Pablo, who have lost their mother to cancer and live on their own, and activist Tanya, who is undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia.  Colors are muted grays, browns and blues, which combine with distant shots and silhouettes to create a feeling of isolation.

In late summer, Vita impulsively buys a used guitar and when the ambiguous middle/high school year begins, she holds a meeting to recruit for her new band, Zebrafish.  Friends Jay and Plinko, Tanya, and Tanya’s brother Walt stop in to audition, each for different reasons.  Although no one but Vita even claims to play an instrument, they soon hatch a plan to create a music video centered around Walt’s art and Vita’s guitar, to perform at a fundraising concert Tanya hopes to hold for one of her many causes.  As they carry out their plans, the members of the “band” find that they are becoming friends.  Images are more colorful and contain busy dialogue, leading to a more cheerful tone.

One day, Vita stops by Pablo’s lab at the hospital and runs into Tanya.  She is left in shock after learning that Tanya has leukemia.  Pablo shows her around his lab upstairs, including tanks of clear zebrafish that help him study potential cures for cancer.  He tells her about a PCR machine that he can’t afford, but that would speed up his research.  Vita decides that the concert is the perfect way to help fundraise for the machine that could help her friend.  When the day of the concert arrives, there is a full house.  All is well until, mid show, Vita’s dog bites through the power cord and everything goes black.  Vita carries through and finishes the show with wild applause from the audience, making school history. 

In the short, inspirational afterward, Peter Reynolds describes how change happens “to you or by you.”   He encourages readers to find something they care about and do something to make a difference.

Although Zebrafish can feel a bit fragmented, humor works its way into the more serious elements of the story to create an entertaining journey into friendship, band-creation, and taking action.  The diverse group of cool-looking kids and the colorful illustrations will instantly attract readers.  The message of social action is one rarely seen in graphic novels, and this may be the perfect book for readers who want older characters and need an empowering message.  Recommended for grades 4+ but includes nothing that would make it inappropriate for younger children.

Curriculum Connections:

Zebrafish revolves around cancer and cancer research.  On the book jacket, it states that a portion of the proceeds is being donated to Children’s Hospital Boston.  It also may be interesting to note that text and illustration copyrights also go to Children’s Hospital Boston.  What does this say about choices of the publishers and authors?  How do other businesses make choices about their products that can be beneficial to the community?

Kids love graphic novels.  There is something so cool about reading both words and images and I know I feel totally absorbed each time I begin a good graphic novel.  Have students create their own graphic novel, either based on Zebrafish (introduce characters, present problem, think of ways they can take action to fix it), relay information about an issue, or create their own story.

The characters in Zebrafish make a difference by using their talents and skills to raise money for a cause they believe in. Brainstorm a few ideas of ways every-day kids can use their strengths to support a good cause.

 

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Ivy and Bean: What’s the Big Idea?


Ivy and Bean: What’s the Big Idea?

(Book 7)

by Annie Barrows

chapter-book

Second graders Ivy and Bean are stunned when a group of fifth graders share their very depressing report on global warming. They slump on a bench afterward and worry about polar bears and pollution. The whole class arrives at school the following day feeling a little bit sad. When Ms. Aruba-Tate announces that the second grade will participate in a science fair, her students share how discouraged they are. She encourages them to be a part of the solution, and to use science to help solve the world’s problems. She suggests that the science fair’s theme be “Ideas that Fight Global Warming.”

Now, Ivy and Bean simply have to think of a way to once-and-for-all stop global warming. The two girls discover that throwing ice cubes into the air to lower the temperature doesn’t work, tying their hands together to make humans less powerful has unintended consequences, and hammering rice to make clean energy just, well, makes rice dust. Then, Ivy says, “If grown-ups weren’t scared of nature, they’d probably try harder to save it from global warming” and their great idea for the science fair is born (Barrows, 96).

Always funny and engaging, Ivy and Bean tackle the big issue of global warming in a heartfelt and courageous way. The series’ characteristic meanderings and funny moments make this an age-appropriate look at an environmental problem. The ending of the book will touch any adult or child who has wanted to make a real difference in the world.

Curriculum Connections:

What’s the Big Idea? would make a great read-aloud for younger children to connect with scientific method as Ivy and Bean come up with ideas, try them out, and evaluate whether or not they work.

It could also be connected with an upcoming science fair, or used as a positive approach to studies about global warming or environmental problems.

This book especially shows how Ivy and Bean, while not hard scientists, can make a difference by using their natural charm, skills, and talents for communication to share how much they care about the earth.  Before a day of service, or when brainstorming about ways to help in the community, share this book with students before having them think of their own particular talents and how those talents can help bring about big or small changes in the world.

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Almost Zero

  Almost Zero


a Dyamonde Daniel book by Nikki Grimes

chapter book

When Dyamonde Daniel admires her classmate Tameeka’s new pink high-top sneakers, Tameeka tells her the key to getting a pair of her own. “Why don’t you tell your mom to buy you some,” she says.  “That’s what I do.  If I need something, I tell my mom to get it….She’s my mom, and it’s her job to get me whatever I need.”  Dyamonde goes home and does just that.  The next thing she knows, her mom has packed away her closet, once full of clothes, and has left her with what she really needs: the clothes on her back.  Dyamonde suffers and complains through mustard stains and washing her clothes in the sink until she hears that her classmate Isabel’s apartment has been destroyed by a fire.  Isabel’s family has lost everything, and Dyamonde comes to understand the difference between want and need as she organizes the community to help Isabel’s family by holding a clothing drive.

Curriculum Connections:

Almost Zero is the third book in this beginning chapter book series, and addresses core sustainability concepts, including community action, want vs. need, and personal initiative for making life better for all.

What does want vs. need mean?  What does Dyamonde want and what does she need?  Is it easy for people to get this mixed up? How does Isabel’s misfortune help teach Dyamonde about what people really need?

Dyamonde organizes a clothing drive to help Isabel’s family.  Have you done anything like this? What are other ways one person can act to make a difference?

Do the people in your community get most of what they need?  What could your community do to better help people get the things they need?

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