Saturday, March 11, 2017

Ish and Fish

30753996Rivers, Karen. Love, Ish
March 14th 2017 by Algonquin Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Ish is surviving the defection of her best friend, Tig, by planning her future on Mars. There is a web site that claims to be taking applications for people to live in a colony, so Ish is planning her whole life around this, from the clothes she wears to the food she eats. The beginning of school is hard without Tig, who has moved to another town and not answered any of her e mails. It doesn't help that Ish is often at odds with her mother as well as her older sister, Elliot, who is still very angry about finding out that she and Ish were adopted. When Ish starts 7th grade, she has to deal with the mean girls, as well as a new boy who calls her "Fish". That's insignificant, however, when she passes out on the first day of school. The reason: a brain tumor. Ish is not happy about the aggressive treatment, which leaves her bald and ill. One upside is that new boy, Gavriel, visits her in the hospital and becomes her friend. The downside is that Ish is very, very ill. Brain tumors, even when referred to as the Brussels Sprout or Nirgal, don't fool around.
Strengths: Rivers writes a very good hallucinatory scene, and this is certainly an artistic choice that sets her work apart from other middle grade authors. She uses this in The Girl in the Well is Me as well. Her characters are well developed, and the family supportive but slightly dysfunctional, which is realistic. There haven't been many books about children dealing with cancer lately, and they are something some readers like to investigate.
Weaknesses: Ish is the sort of character who has purposefully alienated herself from her peers at school, and I have trouble connecting with these characters. Also, while interesting, the hallucinatory scenes might make it hard for some readers to understand what is going on with Ish's cancer treatment.
What I really think: Buy this if 
The Girl in the Well is Me circulates well in your library. I will think about this one and purchase if I have some extra money.

30971730Wiesner, David and Napoli, Donna Jo.Fish Girl
March 7th 2017 by Clarion Books
Public Library Copy

Fish Girl lives in a beach side attraction run by "King Neptune" who has a show that includes him causing the waves to roil, but also has kitschy t shirts. Fish Girl is part of the show, but she must only offer glimpses of herself to keep the public intrigued. When a girl visits the aquarium and strikes up a conversation with Fish Girl, she starts to wonder about life outside her tank, and she starts to investigate the museum. eventually wandering out of it when she realizes she only has a fin when she is in contact with water. She likes the freedom of being outside of the water, but when Neptune finds out, he is very angry. Eventually, Fish Girl decides that she must make her break and join her friend in the outside world.
Strengths: I liked the idea of an author teaming up with an illustrator to do a graphic novel, and this is certainly an interesting book. This is formatted in much more pleasing way than a lot of graphic novels-- it's a slightly larger size, so the text is a bit easier to read. The illustrations are clear and bright. I love Napoli's novels, especially her twists on fairy tales.
Weaknesses: I was a little disturbed by the story-- Fish Girl is found as a baby and basically kept captive in an abusive situation.
What I really think: If any of the language arts classes were still doing units on folk and fairy tales, I would buy this, but since those have gone by the wayside, I think I'll pass.

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