Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (Abrams, 2010).

I walked past the display of "graphic novels" for kids and young readers at our local library - we have a genuinely terrific children's librarian, by the way - and did a double-take at the sight of this thin hardcover promising the tale of "yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl." Boy, am I ever tired of that old trope. (Kidding!)

Oh, heavens, how I enjoyed this book. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword is the first of two books by Barry Deutsch that has its beginnings in a webcomic he had drawn. It is set in a curiously insular Orthodox community - so isolated, wherever it is, that the residents have no idea what a pig looks like - and the star of our story is an eleven year-old who really looks forward to owning a sword so that she can get started on her big life plan to be a hero and slay dragons. But first, she has to get out of the house and away from the arguments posed by her stepmother Fruma.

And when she does get out of the house, she takes a wrong turn in the woods, sees a strange woman floating in the air, and that sets in motion a confrontation with a homework-destroying pig. That talks.

This is completely terrific fun for readers eight and up. It's unpredictable, intelligent, and I love the designs, the pacing, and the artwork. Deutsch has created a great little universe here, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of Mirka and her family. Happily recommended.

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