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Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword Hardcover – November 1, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Hereville Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-7–To the delight of his online followers, Deutsch's popular web comic featuring “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl” is now available in print. Mirka is the heroine that girlhood dreams are made of: questioning and smart and willing to take on the world. She constantly battles wits with her stepmother, Fruma, whose argumentative nature and sharp nose conceal a warm and caring nature. Readers view the image of Mirka's deceased mother, who continues to play an influential role in her life. The child, stuck at home with knitting needles, longs to wield a sword and do battle with dragons. Instead she finds herself caught in a battle of wills with a talking pig. That's right: scenes of an Orthodox Jew with a pig add to the humor. The story is a captivating mixture of fantasy and a realistic look at a culture. The girl encounters both a mind-reading witch and a multilingual troll in her quest for a sword with which to fight dragons. Yiddish language and Jewish customs are an essential part of the story and provide excellent bedrock to the tale without overwhelming it. Mirka outwits the troll and obtains the sword, bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion. However, there is more to tell and it is obvious that further adventures await this young heroine. The illustrations are done in a monochromatic palette, with a color change from a warm earthy orange/cream for daytime scenes to a cool lavender/blue for the night scene. With engaging characters and delightful art, Hereville is pure enchantment.–Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NYα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Set in a well-realized contemporary Orthodox Jewish community, this sweet and engaging tale of 11-year-old Mirka’s thirst for a dragon-slaying adventure unfolds in well-integrated images and text. Mirka’s family includes a stepmother who is strict but not evil, a marriage-obsessed older sister, and a little brother for whom Mirka alternately takes responsibility and finds unwontedly cumbersome. Deutsch creates authentic characters spiced with just enough fantasy to surprise: the members of the community use Yiddish and Hebrew expressions, which are translated as they appear in the text, and the arrival of a talking pig in the village presents a challenge for Mirka, as pig and girl compete to outmaneuver each other in arguments as well as actions. And then there’s the space alien who challenges Mirka to knit for her life. Details of Orthodox daily life are well blended into the art and given just the right touches of explanation to keep readers on track. Mirka is a spunky, emotionally realistic, and fun heroine for her peers to discover. Grades 3-6. --Francisca Goldsmith
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: GN380L (What's this?)
  • Series: Hereville
  • Hardcover: 142 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810984229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810984226
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl," says the byline. Well seriously. How was I supposed to pass that up? I'd grabbed a copy of Hereville at an American Library Association conference along with a whole host of other books. I don't think I even gave it half a glance at the time. Just nabbed, stuffed, and scooted. It was only back in the comfort of my hotel room as I repacked my bags that the byline got my attention. I sat down for a quick look. Twenty minutes later I was still reading, with no intention at all of repacking anything until I was done. In my experience, fantasy novels for children do not like to involve religion in any way, shape, or form. And children's graphic novels? Puh-leeze. You're as likely to find a copy of Babymouse wax rhapsodic on the topic of organized religion as you are a copy of Harry Potter. So to read Barry Deutsch's book is to experience a mild marvel. There is religion, fantasy, knitting, some of the best art I've seen since The Secret Science Alliance, and a story that actually makes you sit up and feel something. This is like nothing I've ever encountered before, and I think it's truly remarkable. Without a doubt, this is the best graphic novel of 2010 for kids. Bar none.

Mirka has a dream, but it's not the kind of thing that gets a lot of support. More than anything else in the entire world she wants to fight dragons. The problem?
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My oldest daughter is almost seven, and she is an avid reader. She prefers graphic novels to chapter books, and we are always looking for graphic novels with appropriate content for her. We found Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword at the library in the next town over. We enjoyed the book so much that we purchased our own copy. This graphic novel was written and illustrated by Barry Deutsch.

Hereville is subtitled “Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl”, and this pretty much sums up the book. Mirka lives with her father and stepmother and blended siblings. Mirka lives in a Jewish enclave, and she is so sheltered from the world that she doesn’t recognize a pig when she sees one. The pig has been following Mirka because Mirka stole from the pig’s garden. The pig does whatever it can to make Mirka’s life miserable, like stealing her homework! But when Mirka intervenes and rescues the pig from boys who are tormenting it, the witch who owns the pig offers a reward: there is a sword in Hereville, but Mirka must defeat the troll who guards the sword. Does Mirka have what it takes to fight a troll?

Deutsch uses a lot of Yiddish expressions, but he always provides a translation. I think that familiarity with the Orthodox culture helps understand the book, but it’s not mandatory. The book provides a fairly accurate portrayal of Orthodox Jewish life- except for the talking pig, etc. Readers will learn a lot about customs and traditions, and how they fit into Mirka’s personality.

Hereville is a very clever book. In the first two pages, Mirka doesn’t want to do knitting, and debates with her stepmother about free will and preordination. This intellectual trend continues throughout the book.
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Format: Hardcover
E. R. Bird "Ramseelbird" has written a very good review of Hereville: How Mirka Got her Sword. I just wanted to add that I enjoyed the book immensely as an adult and as an eager reader of graphic novels.

When I first heard about Hereville on the internet I was intrigued. The art was impressive, and I was attracted to the book's themes. I've read many graphic novels with Jewish themes, but few about the lives of religious Jewish children. Moreover, the comic strips I've read about Orthodox or Hassidic children centered on boys.

I put the book on my Wish List and I was delighted to receive it as a present. I read it in one sitting. Deutsch's storytelling is engaging and he weaves in the strands of Mirka's tale like a master knitter into a superb creation.

I'm familiar with many children's books as I work in a library and visit the children's section to check out titles that look striking. I'm sure children would love How Mirka Got her Sword. It's wonderful to see a spunky heroine follow her self-confidence and her instincts, not allowing others to discourage either her imagination or her ambitions. I also loved how throughout the book Judaism is not portrayed as something negative or confining, but rather enriching and ennobling. When I was a girl I looked forward to the magazines we were given in Hebrew school which included comics and stories. Alas most were aimed at boys: the ones that addressed girls debated such issues as whether or not a girl could say a blessing over the food on the Sabbath. I would have loved to read Mirka when I was a girl: it's a pleasure to see a girl confront demons -- dragons and trolls and her own personal inner ones -- without agonizing over whether it's appropriate for her gender.
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