Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, written and illustrated by Ben Hatke, 224 pp, RL 3
If you do not know Zita, please read my review of the first book in this amazing series by the delightful Ben Hatke, Zita the Space Girl. While I love the story lines that Hatke writes for his graphic novels, I think it is his illustrations that really draw me (and my son, who gobbles these books in one sitting) in. While the space creatures may be odd, and a tiny bit fierce at times, Hatke's gentle palette sets the tone for these books. Besides being the creator of this stand-out series (science fiction AND a girl protagonist!) Ben is an accomplished artist who learned by studying the Italian Masters while attending art school in Florence, is the father of four girls and spends part of his year with his brood in Italy where he painting this gorgeous landscape of the village of Gravanga.
In Book 2: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl fame is getting to Zita. When a rusty old "Imprint-o-Tron" robot crawls from the junk heap and, first thing it sees is a poster of "Zita! The Girl Who Saved Scriptorious!" From scraps and trash, the robot manages to fashion herself after Zita and impersonate her at an appearance, with Zita's approval. However, Zita's plan goes awry when her stand-in agrees to save another planet from disaster. New Lumponia (inhabited by muppet-y creatures wearing fezes) is about to be attacked by Star Hearts, creatures that strip a planet to "down to bedrock in under a solar cycle."
While the impostor Zita is making promises she can't keep, Zita, after being handed free tickets by a mysterious figure, finds herself watching a curious circus featuring a beautiful gypsy fire dancer. With moments to spare, Mouse reminds Zita that it's almost launch time and they rush back to Piper's ship where robot Zita keeps the real Zita from boarding.
Zita goes from hero to fugitive in a matter of moments when she steals a spaceship and heads after Piper. Madrigal, the gypsy circus performer who has a giant cat named Glissando, comes to Zita's aid and, with some twists and turns and surprises, takes her aboard her shambling ship, above. Hatke outdoes himself with Book 2: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, which actually surprised me since I loved the first book so much. Once again, Zita proves herself to be selfless when push comes to shove. The pace of Book 2: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl feels a bit different from the first book, but it also feels like Hatke is really building his story and world with this book. Book 2 is not a bridge book, but more of a foundation that, based on a few little teasers, is leading to a story beyond Zita, her world-saving skills and her time in space. And I am so excited to see where this world takes me!
Source: Review Copy