The Zabime Sisters

Overview

On the first day of summer vacation, teenaged sisters M’Rose, Elle, and Célina step out into the tropical heat of their island home and continue their headlong tumble toward adulthood. Boys, schoolyard fights, petty thievery, and even illicit alcohol make for a heady mix, as The Zabime Sisters indulge in a little summertime freedom. The dramatic backdrop of a Caribbean island provides a study of contrasts—a world that is both lush and wild, yet strangely small and intimate—which echoes the contrasts of the ...

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Overview

On the first day of summer vacation, teenaged sisters M’Rose, Elle, and Célina step out into the tropical heat of their island home and continue their headlong tumble toward adulthood. Boys, schoolyard fights, petty thievery, and even illicit alcohol make for a heady mix, as The Zabime Sisters indulge in a little summertime freedom. The dramatic backdrop of a Caribbean island provides a study of contrasts—a world that is both lush and wild, yet strangely small and intimate—which echoes the contrasts of the sisters themselves, who are at once worldly and wonderfully naïve.

Master storyteller Aristophane’s The Zabime Sisters takes a keen look at some of the universal experiences of children on the cusp of growing up, in the fascinating setting of Guadeloupe. Aristophane’s bold, graphic brushwork weaves a wild texture through this gentle, clear-eyed tale.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Aristophane was a French writer and artist who produced only a handful of comics works before his untimely death in 2007. The first of these to make it to the U.S. is the story of three sisters who live on the Caribbean Island of Guadalupe. We follow them on the way to see a fight between two local boys, one a notorious bully, while they engage in universal childhood pursuits that Tom Sawyer himself would have recognized: exploring the dangerous parts of the forest, stealing mangoes from the wrong orchard, sneaking a taste of rum to their own detriment. The writer proves deft at revealing the politics of childhood—the negotiations, cruelties, and kindnesses that exist between friends and especially between sisters—and the white expanses and thick, inky lines of his art readily evoke not only the proper emotions but also the sun-drenched environment. Lyrical, even literary in its tone, The Zabime Sisters is for developed readers looking for something off the beaten path. Includes suggested discussion questions. — Booklist

 

This understated graphic novel manages to entertain and instruct without being overly sentimental. Its three young protagonists, M’Rose, Elle, and Celina, guide readers along a typical summer day in Guadeloupe. The supporting cast includes a variety of childhood heroes and villains, from the tough-talking bully Vivien to the taciturn Michael. The petty arguments, betrayals, schoolyard fights, and alcohol experimentation are punctuated with several explanatory captions that take readers into the characters’ minds and provide useful if occasionally obvious insight into the motives behind what the children do. Readers should have no trouble relating to the experiences of the likable cast. Aristophane’s artwork helps this process thanks to the wonderfully stark and expressive faces on the children he draws. It’s a memorable and honest story that all young readers can enjoy. — Publisher's Weekly

 

A single day of a summer vacation in the tropical island Guadeloupe is depicted as three sisters hang out and get into some mischief on their first day of freedom from school. In the course of the day, they tease boys, scare one another, smoke, see a fight, and one has a bit too much to drink. Translated from French, this glimpse of one single day is a very quiet read. The leisurely-paced day echoes the island lifestyle. The day is filled with mini-adventures and explorations around the island. Character exploration is the true story in this coming-of-age graphic novel. Each sister gains some insight into herself and the world around her as the day progresses. The artwork is beautiful in its roughness.

At first glance, Aristophane‘s dry-brush black and white style seems too coarse for the quiet story he is telling. The thick brush strokes sometimes hinder the finer details, such as facial expressions, but the details he is able to hide within the panels are stunning. This slim title will be a harder sell than most graphic novels, but it has a beauty and sophistication that will appeal to higher level readers. An afterword by translator Matt Madden and a reading group guide are included. — VOYA

Children's Literature - Michael Jung PhD
Summer vacation is here—which means a time of unrestricted freedom for Zabine sisters M'Rose, Ella, and Celina who spend their first day of summer stealing from the mango orchards on their French Caribbean island home, drinking rum, and eagerly awaiting an upcoming fight between the neighborhood bully and his hapless victim. French cartoonist Aristophane treads an honest, if at times unpleasant, line between the typical adolescent problem novel and idealized tales of innocent childhood in this story, which has been praised by translator Madden for being "neither cute nor sentimental." While the children are far from vicious delinquents, they are also not admirable figures as they spend their day casually taunting and bullying each other. Nor do their selfish actions inspire any of them to change or mature (at least within the confines of the story); rather the graphic novel seems to position itself as a slice-of-life tale of the children's everyday illicit activities. As such, some readers will find it a beautifully true-to-life story while others may wonder if any of the characters are worth following. Reviewer: Michael Jung, PhD
VOYA - Kristin Fletcher-Spear
A single day of a summer vacation in the tropical island Guadeloupe is depicted as three sisters hang out and get into some mischief on their first day of freedom from school. In the course of the day, they tease boys, scare one another, smoke, see a fight, and one has a bit too much to drink. Translated from French, this glimpse of one single day is a very quiet read. The leisurely-paced day echoes the island lifestyle. The day is filled with mini-adventures and explorations around the island. Character exploration is the true story in this coming-of-age graphic novel. Each sister gains some insight into herself and the world around her as the day progresses. The artwork is beautiful in its roughness. At first glance, Aristophane's dry-brush black and white style seems too coarse for the quiet story he is telling. The thick brush strokes sometimes hinder the finer details, such as facial expressions, but the details he is able to hide within the panels are stunning. This slim title will be a harder sell than most graphic novels, but it has a beauty and sophistication that will appeal to higher level readers. An afterword by translator Matt Madden and a reading group guide are included. Reviewer: Kristin Fletcher-Spear
Library Journal
The unexpectedly impoverished Elinor and Marianne Dashwood could not be more different. Elinor is all calm reason, in love with a sweet yet diffident Edward, Marianne all emotional firestorms, besotted with romantic charmer Willoughby. But greedy relatives confound the affections of both couples. Veteran Austen adaptor Butler (Pride & Prejudice, 2009) handles the scripting neatly, and Liew's charming art evokes period details.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Madden, an admirer of French comic artist Aristophane, has translated this 1996 work. The tender and evocative narrative chronicles the first day of summer vacation on the sultry Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Opening panels move readers inside a home's shuttered window and introduce three sleeping sisters: M'Rose, Elle, and Célina. The girls awaken and their day unfolds with summer delights and discoveries: they catch crab at the river, steal mangoes, experiment with a stolen pipe, witness a fight between rivaling boys, suffer the intoxicating effects of rum, taunt and teas friends, and engage in constant sibling rivalry. The text is coupled with expressive images that offer glimpses into the personality of each character and allow the story to slowly unfold. The interplay among the siblings and each girl's singular response to events allow readers to establish a personal connection with each sister. The artist's dry brush technique and controlled use of line, mastery of light and shadow, interesting and unusual framing, and expressive facial close-ups are compelling. Readers will visualize both the unique and universal aspects of this day of freedom for these girls. Back matter includes an afterword and a discussion guide.—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Kirkus Reviews

The final published work from the late French comics artist is a whimsical, meandering jaunt through the chaos and possibility of adolescence. Aristophane chronicles the exploits of sisters M'Rose, Ella and Célina on the day they embark on their summer vacation on the tropical isle of Guadeloupe. He captures the anxieties and joys of adolescent hormones and emotions through an episodic story line that sees the girls finding their way in and out of trouble—and possibly love. The pen-and-ink panels are often undefined and cluttered, a visual exploration of the journey to adulthood. The sharp angles and nuanced shadowing of the characters are set against the undefined patterns and dense foliage of the jungle, evoking a simultaneous sense of unease and excitement that adult readers will recall from their own teenage years. A moving exploration of youth and its follies that may be more appreciated by adults than those in the throes of it. Includes an afterword by translator Madden and a reading-group guide.(Graphic novel. 13 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596436381
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Publication date: 10/26/2010
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Aristophane Boulon, who published under his first name, was trained as a fine artist before moving into the world of narrative art, where he made an immediate splash in the French comics world. Not quite ten years after the initial publication of Les Soeurs Zabîme, Aristophane died in 2007. He is deeply missed.

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