Hereville: How MIrka Met a Meteorite, written and illustrated by Barry Deutsch, RL 4
Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite is the follow-up to Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch. The tagline for the first book was, "Yet another troll fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl comic." Ha! The tagline for the new book is, "Boldly Going Where No 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl Has Gone Before." Haha! With his first book, Deutsch proved that he has a fantastic imagination and a way with characters. He set his story in Hereville, an Orthodox Jewish community, a seemingly odd but ultimately compelling location for a graphic novel and a story about a tweenage girl with some very big ideas and interests. While you might think that the setting would dominate the story, the religion and way of life for the residents of Hereville is blended seamlessly with the character of Mirka and her adventures in these books. Things don't happen because she is an Orthodox Jewish girl, but things seemed to get fixed through the wisdom of Furma, Mirka's stepmother, which is in part drawn from her beliefs. With Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite Deustch proves that he is a masterful story teller with a talent for creating characters of depth and substance that take precedence over the setting. I loved Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword so much, above all else, because of Mirka and her complexities, that I think I would have read a book in which she didn't do anything more extraordinary than go to school, challenge some bullies and learn to knit. But, Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite delivers so much more than that. However, I think the most important ting going on with the series is the fact that Deustch has created a fantastic (and rare) girl character who fights some big battles. As the Horn Book review notes, "as with Mirka's first adventure, this volume brings diversity and wit to comics for young teens and tweens, sharing well-deserved shelf sapce with Raina Telgemeiers Smile and Drama and Vera Brosgol's Anya's Ghost."
When we see Mirka again, she is grounded and using this time to improve her knitting skills, making berets for everyone in her large family. Finally, about to go crazy, Mirka takes the curtain rods and turns them into swords, getting herself into trouble again. The wise Fruma, her stepmother, invites her to a game of chess and a life lesson. Granted her freedom, it's not long before Mirka is in a mess again. Running from bullies, she ends up in the woods and seeks out the troll who is guarding her sword. Hoping for a bit of practice, she ends up sparring verbally with the troll instead. When she lets slip that the witch told her where to find him, the troll decides to thank the witch by flooding her house with chocolate pudding. A ball of magic yarn is unraveled and, instead of dessert, Mirka learns that a meteorite will destroy the town of Hereville in fifteen minutes, landing squarely on the witch's house. Mirka runs off to warn her and hopefully get her to stop the impending disaster. And this is where the story takes an amazing turn!
Mirka gasps and passes out just as she reaches the witch's house, the meteorite only feet away. When she wakes up the world is whole, but there is a mirror image of herself standing right in front of her. The witch, having taken a few strands of Mirka's hair, has turned the meteorite into another Mirka instead of a weapon of mass destruction - or is it? At first, the two Mirkas a quite pleased with each other. Meteorite Mirka has several sisters in space and is excited to meet Mirka's family. Mirka is happy to send in her double and get the dirty work done while she has a day in the woods. However, she soon realizes the flaw in her plan when Meteorite Mirka keeps beating her to mealtimes, her love of human life growing fiercely. Soon, the two Mirkas are fighting and Rochel and Zindel, two of Mirka's siblings, are called in to mediate. In the end, the two Mirkas decide to have a contest of three challenges chosen by Mirka. The results are almost as surprising as how Mirka stopped the meteorite. The palette for Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite brings some new colors to Mirka's world and reminds me of Russell and Lilian Hoban's Frances the Badger books before they were colorized by Harper Collins. Deutsch's art work continues to be rich with excellent creatures, action and humor. One of my favorite illustrations, the Regret-O-Meter, can be seen below.
Source: Review Copy