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Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (NONE) Paperback – October 1, 2012
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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!
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!
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!
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I'm looking forward to reading more of Barry Deutsch's work.