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Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword Hardcover – November 1, 2010
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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.
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
Top customer reviews
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. While I don’t want to give away the ending, I will say that when Mirka fights the troll, she doesn’t use weapons.
The art style is fairly realistic, and the illustrations are enhanced by the use of the colored pages. Orange pages are used in daytime scenes, and blue pages are used at night. The body language and facial expressions are among the best I have seen.
My daughter and I both enjoyed Hereville. My daughter liked the action and adventure, and I appreciated the intellectual slant. I found the book to be wry, and very clever.
I would absolutely recommend Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword. The reading level is not very high, and this gives the book a broader appeal. Everyone from children in the middle years of elementary school to adults can enjoy Hereville. It’s got action, adventure, and humor- all with an Orthodox slant!
This book would appeal to fans of Jeff Smith's Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume, in fact there is a hidden reference to Bone in the book.
Even though I am Jewish, I have learned a lot about Orthodox Judaism from reading this book, but it would appeal to anyone, Jewish or non-Jewish. I think anyone younger than 5 years old would be scared of parts of this book and some of the drawings could possibly be frightening to a young reader. I think anyone ages 5 - 12 would enjoy Hereville. It's an exciting, well-drawn graphic novel!
And in this case I can recommend this middle grade graphic novel to all, even if your name is nowhere in it. In fact, because it is set in a Jewish Shtetl (Yiddish for the Jewish part of town) and most of the names are Yiddish, it is unlikely many potential readers would find their names there.
But what they will find is a cast of good characters, a riveting story, masterful drawing and a lot of Yiddish phrases strewn throughout. These are explained in an unobtrusive way, and are delightful.
Oh, and the main character, Mirka, is a powerhouse of a girl. She's the sort girls and boys would be thrilled to spend a few hours with, and come back again to many more times.
Try it, you'll like it. My grandma was right!