Friday, January 7, 2011

3. Hereville - Barry Deutsch

How Mirka Got Her Sword
A graphic novel
Amulet Books, 2010
HC $15.95
For: Middle Grades
142 pgs.
Rating: 5

Now here’s a winner. The first graphic novel I’ve really enjoyed…enjoyed enough to finish, too! Hereville is a fairy tale, set solidly in an Orthodox Jewish community somewhere in contemporary America. However, it could have been set just about anywhere. It is isolated and totally Orthodox. Residents speak Yiddish and Hebrew, words are sprinkled thorough the story. The translations are thoughtfully stuck onto the bottom of the page, but most of the text is in English.

Clever. Funny. Fun. And even educational, when it comes to learning about Orthodox Judaism. I can’t even begin to go into the plot, which is multi-layered. The protagonist, Mirka, is one of nine children in a blended family. She respects and cares about her stepmother, Fruma, who is wise and my favorite character in the book. Mirka has studied monsters, she keeps a hidden book about them under her mattress. It his her great desire to become a dragon slayer. She has a younger brother, Zindel, who spends much time with her, and a stepsister, Rochel, who seems wise beyond her years.

The characters, including a huge talking pig, a witch that lives in a nearby house just discovered, and a knitting troll are wonderful. Fresh, believable, fun, and funny. Adventurous, animated, well-illustrated, clear…a wonderful book!

Barry Deutsch has a Hereville BLOG that he writes almost every day. It’s fun.

Stephen Frug has a blog that reviews Hereville beautifully and thoroughly. So does the Bob Hayes Online blog. So I'd suggest reading one (or both) of those for more in-depth information about the plot.

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