January 22, 2018

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 9:43 pm by suebe2

How Mirka Got Her Sword
by Barry Deutsch
Colors by Jake Richmond
Amulet Books

Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl.

First it was a web comic but it is now a graphic novel for young readers.

More than anything Mirka wants to fight dragons.  She longs to be a hero.  She aches for adventure.  Yet her step-mothers insists that Mirka learn to knit, set the table and help with meals like a good girl sure to make a good wife.

But when it comes it isn’t exactly what she expected.  In the woods, Mirka spots a tall house.  Perhaps the woman she sees is a witch. She later heads back to the house with her sisters and brother.  As fourteen year-old Gittel lectures their brother about not stealing one of the enormous grapes, Mirka impulsively pops one off the vine and eats it.

A strange beast confronts them and chases Mirka through the woods.  Only stepsister Rochel, who has lived outside of Orthodox Hereville, recognize the monster as a pig.  The talking, vengeful animal chases Mirka through the woods and eventually she tumbles down a hill only to fall into the neighbor’s back yard where the men are gathered around the grill.

The pig is a reoccuring figure in the story as it chases Mirka again and again until she makes her  peace with the witch.  The witch explains that Mirka can get the sword she wants if she defeats a nearby troll.  But first Mirka must go to her stepmother to find out how to defeat a troll.

I don’t want to give away any more of the story. Suffice it to say that Mirka’s flaws, or at least weaknesses, almost cost her the sword but it is her greatest strength, or at least her strongest talent, that saves the day.

Deutsch has created a graphic novel that is authentically Orthodox (take the word of other reviewers for this) and also a strong fantasy. The interactions of the siblings also ring true.  After all, no one can annoy you quite the way your own sister can.

Mirka is a smart, determined character from a culture that is not often represented in books for young readers.  Add it to your shelf and share it with the young girl in your life who needs a bit of inspiration to go after her own sword, microscope, or fantasy.


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