From School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Hatke has again conjured up a rich and satisfying story with enchanting characters and delightful humor. Lumponians are seeking Zita's help to save their planet from the dangerous invasion of star hearts that will strip a planet to its bedrock. Convinced that she is their only hope, they offer as payment the remaining jump crystal that will allow her to return home. They happen upon a robot masquerading as Zita and employ this counterfeit hero to save them. While Zita does save the Lumponians and her rivalry with robot Zita is nicely resolved, the story is obviously a setup for further adventures as she must rescue her companion mouse. Hatke's humor is in top form, including the creation of dialects with unique spellings and language that perfectly capture the each character's personality. Even robots have a language. Wordplay is omnipresent, such as names based on musical terms, and the star-hearts invasion being described as a "heart attack." Inventive sound effects such as "scootch" and "snuffle" and the gift of a "slap in a box" are among the many bon mots youngsters will savor. The characters' expressive faces are given a charm and attention to detail that will captivate readers of all ages, and the beautifully illuminated images of space inspire awe. Legends offers a parody of celebrity status and gently explores the question of notoriety versus heroism. Fans of Zita's adventures will relish this installment.-Babara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
About the Author
Ben Hatke's first graphic novel was Zita the Spacegirl. He has published comics stories in the Flight series as well as Flight Explorer. In addition to writing and drawing comics, he also paints in the naturalist tradition and, occasionally, performs one-man fire shows.
Hatke lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters. His work can be seen online at www.benhatke.com
A Q&A WITH LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL AUTHOR BEN HATKE
1. Do you tend to think of yourself more as a writer or as an artist?
In my case, I think the two are pretty inseparable. I work a lot on the structure of my stories and I get a lot of joy out of that, but my art is not just in the service of the story, it's very much a part of the storytelling. I find things like characters’ body language to be a wonderful storytelling tool. I’ve also lately been interested in projects that separate words and pictures -- illustrated novels on the one hand and wordless comics on the other.
2. The Zita books feature some pretty strange creatures. You must've had a strange childhood!
I’ve always been drawn to weird creatures. Some of my early drawings are vast underground scenes full of creatures that aren’t that far removed from some of the species in the Zita books. I was lucky in that my parents exposed me to a lot of different influences -- all kinds of books and movies. And we spent days spent exploring rivers. We were even active members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms!
3. Out of all that, what kinds of things influenced you the most?
When I was a very small child my older cousin took me to see The Dark Crystal at the theater. We had to leave about halfway through the film because I was crying. The grownups all said it must have been too scary. I’ve seen The Dark Crystal since, but I also remember very clearly seeing those creatures on the screen for the first time. All these years later I wonder if maybe I wasn’t just frightened, but overloaded by the the intense creativity. I still think that they did more with those puppets than we do with CGI today.
4. How does Legends of Zita differ from Zita the Spacegirl?
I feel like this volume lives up to the title a little better in that there are scenes that take place in SPACE. I’m finally putting some “space” in “spacegirl.
5. Can you tell us about one of your favorite scenes or moments in this new story?
There’s a chase through the back alleys of a domed space city that culminates with the dramatic entrance of a new character. I’m proud of that part. There’s another moment toward the end of the book, a moment of danger for Zita, that I decided to make into a single image spread across two pages with no dialogue. That’s the joy of comics: you can show any given moment a hundred different ways but when it works it’s a lot of fun.