Monday, December 27, 2010

REVIEW: Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch. Published 2010 by Amulet Books. Graphica. Fiction.

Hereville is a charming graphic novel by writer and artist Barry Deutsch, author of the webcomic of the same name. Its heroine is plucky young Mirka, an Orthodox Jewish girl who has a secret life as a superhero battling trolls. She also has a regular life as an awkward preteen, navigating her family and her life as best she can.

Mirka is growing up in the town of Hereville, populated by mostly Orthodox Jews, and she goes to an Orthodox school. Her family, including her father, her stepmother Fruma and her brother and sisters, are observant but otherwise ordinary, and Deutsch makes his story accessible to general readers by including definitions for the Yiddish words and phrases the family uses and explaining the basics of Orthodox observance. I love the lively, expressive and varied artwork, the sense of activity as well as tranquility that Deutsch creates in scenes of adventure, daily life and quiet ritual. I particularly enjoyed the tender relationship between Mirka and Fruma; no evil stepmother is she, but a warm and compassionate woman who cares deeply for her children.

Hereville is really a winner of a graphic novel, family-friendly and great for kids and adults alike. Mirka gains a great deal of self-confidence battling the local trolls and my only kvetch is that I wish Mirka had used it for something less domestic than merely determining to learn to knit, but this quibble is a minor one. If you're looking for a smart, sweet and knowing look at observant Jewish life, Hereville is a great place to start.

Click here to see an interview with Deutsch on the blog of the Association of Jewish Libraries, along with more examples of artwork from the book.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for professional use in conjunction with my work for the Association of Jewish Libraries.


Zibilee said...

I like the fact that she seems like a normal Jewish girl, but is in reality a super-hero battling trolls and am going to have to check this one out. I bet my son would love it as well, so thanks for sharing this, Marie! Very cool review!

Kathleen said...

As I just began reading graphic novels in 2010 I am always looking for a good recommendation for one to read. This one is being added to the list.

Marie Cloutier said...

Zibilee and Kathleen, I hope both you do have a chance to read this. It's great!

Aarti said...

This sounds great! I will have to look into it. I really like how varied your GN reviews are.

Leora said...

I loved reading this little graphic novel. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed cheering Mirka onward. I could identify with Mirka's too stiff family - they love her, but they certainly don't "get" her.