Skip to main content

Cleopatra in Space: Book One: Target Practice, by Mike Maihack, 169 pp, RL 3

How can you not love a graphic novel titled, Cleopatra in Space? Just when I was quietly mourning the end of Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl trilogy, Mike Maihack gives us a new spacegirl to root for. As is the way with many great graphic novels, Cleopatra in Space began life as a webcomic in 2009 and ran until 2012 when Maihack began working on the graphic novel format of the story. Cleopatra in Space Book One: Target Practice sets up the story, introduces the characters and gives readers a little taste of what lies ahead for this time traveling Egyptian royal. Like Chris Grine's fantastic ChickenHare, Maihack leaves us wanting to know more about everything - from the world of the Nile Galaxy to the aliens and humans that inhabit it to the prophecy that has brought the fifteen year old Cleopatra VII into the future and outer space. 

When we first see Cleopatra, she is tearing through a jungle terrain with cute but vicious looking creatures on her tail. Just when it looks like she's done for, a golden flying sphinx with a sidecar (and a cat sitting in it) rescues her. They zoom off into the atmosphere and the next page finds us on Earth, "many, many, many years ago." It is Cleopatra's fifteenth birthday, which marks her readiness to begin her reign as a queen, but first she has to learn some algebra from her royal tutor, her cat Kosey at her side. Fortunately, the chamomile Cleo slipped into his tea gives her the chance to run free, yet again, and bust her best friend out of school to take in some slingshot-target-practice. 

When a spot-on shot leads to the collapse of a nearby temple where a secret door is revealed, Gozi and Cleo head inside to explore. Cleo finds a glowing tablet and begins reading the prophecy on it and moments later she is transported into the future. Khensu, the "great-great-great-many-greats" grandson of Kosey fills Cleo in. She is on Planet Mayet in the Ailuros System, home of the Pharoh Yasiro's Research and Military Initiative of Defense (P.Y.R.A.M.I.D) which is led by a council of cats. The cats (which have very cool names like Msamaki, Talibath, Akins, Spook and Misti...) fill Cleo in on the danger that the Nile Galaxy faces and her potential role in saving it.

Maihack's blend of futuristic science fiction concepts and art and ancient Egyptian culture and mythology is fantastic. The Xerx race, the bad guys, found a way to ruin cities by sending out a pulse that wiped out all of their electronic records, "stripping civilizations of their histories, economies, and governments." That is when the pharaoh Yasiro became a scribe, making physical records of all the information he could. This was also when the ancient scroll detailing the arrival of a hero was uncovered. Maihack adds another layer to the story, sending Cleo to school where she gets a few friends, Akila and Brian, the brain who builds her "sphinx bike," as well as some schooling in the usual topics as well as alien languages and target practice, which she excels at. She also meets the reclusive Pharaih Yosira, granddaughter to Yasiro, who is her age.

Maihack's palette in Cleopatra in Space is superb, with lots of magentas and purples making in the Nile Galaxy, which feels different for this kind of graphic novel. Cleo has some attitude and some impulse control issues that feel a little to familiar at times, but overall the concept and story that Maihack is crafting is intriguing and I can't wait to see Cleo interact with the big cast of characters he has introduced - especially the Pharaoh Yosira! 

Cleopatra in Space Book 2: The Sword and the Thief, which is due out in April of 2015, finds Cleo failing a training exercise, jeopardizing her friendship her roommate and best friend Akila and stalked by a mysterious new student at the academy who is working for the enemy...



Jeremy said…
Looks fantastic -- thanks for the pointer.

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…