Book Review | Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
by Barry Deutsch

Score: 5

© 2010, Amulet Books.

I will admit that every Jewish graphic novel I review has to pass my Maus test. I know, that is probably unfair, since Maus is an adult book, and it won a Pulitzer Prize. However, Art Spiegelman set a standard many years ago, and my belief has always been that Jewish kids deserve that level of excellence. Some of the graphic novels that have passed over my desk have therefore often disappointed me.

I am therefore quite thrilled to report that Hereville and Mirka have saved the day! The tag line on the top of this wonderful book’s cover reads, “Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl.”  How can anyone resist this invitation into a fantasy-based graphic novel?

For someone unfamiliar with the Orthodox community, every part of the Orthodox Jewish culture is explained either within the text or in a footnote. For many readers, the Orthodox context may just serve as another part of the fantasy world that is created in this intriguing and captivating story about Mirka, the 11-year-old Orthodox girl, who longs to fight dragons rather than learn how to knit, cook or keep a kosher home. As if her stepmother’s (a very nice stepmother) chores, lessons and arguments aren’t enough, a magic pig that seems bent on ruining her life torments her. Her adventures begin upon finding herself locked in battle with the pig, defeating the pig, saving the pig from some bullies, becoming indebted to a witch (the pig’s owner), then facing a troll to earn her reward. Mirka learns the importance of her stepmother’s lessons from knitting to arguing to yes, caring for your home and all those you love. This great read with fabulous, fantastic, detailed artwork will thoroughly capture the minds of children in this age group.

Grade Level: 4th-9th

Ages: 9-15

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my local public library.
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