know that Ben Hatke had middle grade readers in mind when he wrote his
graphic novel series about Zita, but the books have such wide appeal
that boys and girls of all ages will quickly fall for the spunky
spacegirl and all her friends.
Zita the Spacegirl sets up the story for us: One day while walking home from school young Zita and her friend Joseph see something strange: a crater in a field. Inside is a small gadget with a red button. Against Joseph's advice, Zita pushes the button and Joseph is snatched up by strange arms and disappears.
Zita is horrified and scared, but can't let Joseph suffer an awful fate because of her mistake. So she does the only thing she can think of: She pushes the button again.
And so begins Zita's transformation from Earthgirl to Spacegirl. The rest of book involves Zita's attempts to save Joseph and send him back home, which requires her to make a personal sacrifice. I just love how Zita is motivated by trying help others, and I admire her determination and bravery. Of course, she doesn't really think she's special, she simply does what she thinks is right.
In Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, Zita continues to find a way to get back home to her family. She has lots of help from all kinds of different creatures she meets in several worlds: a mouse, a cat, a pied piper, a gypsy, a couple of robots, a friendly space ship, and a few nice monsters. But all is not sweetness and light for our hero. Not only does she have to stop an automoton from taking over her identity but she has to find a way to fight off alien invaders and save her friends from obliteration.
Young readers will like the action scenes that move the story along at a fast pace The drawings are full color, and we really get a feel for each character's personality. The different cities, landscapes, and creatures are inventive, and I spent some time on each page looking at the details and reading signs, notes, posters, and such.
Teamwork, battles, and humor are found throughout the books, especially the most recent installment, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl. In this book, Zita discovers that she can't make assumptions when it comes to life in space. She has to figure out whom to trust and, ultimately, decide where she wants to live. Although the third book ends satisfactorily, the door is open for more Zita the Spacegirl adventures, and I can't wait to come along for the ride.
Even though I am not a fan of science fiction, I loved getting to know Zita. She is someone I'd like on my side because of her marvelous mix of nice yet tough. She may want to protect all her friends everywhere, but she isn't going to be pushed around. At the same time, she isn't above letting her emotions show, from crying when lonely to being afraid when flying through space.
Zita may be a little girl but she's a big, big hero. Both boys and girls as well as their parents will enjoy reading about Zita and going on her exciting adventures.
Note on the scans (click to see them full size). The scan on the left (p. 90 in the first book) was picked to show you the set up to an action sequence. Looks like Zita and her friends are about to be attacked. The next scan (p. 127 in the second book) is a page from one of Zita's reference books. The information in this guide comes in very handy; you can see she's marked some pages. The next page (p. 118 in the third book) gives you an idea of some of the humor. Zita met these two creatures, a skeleton and a living rag pile, when she was imprisoned. Here they are passing time in their cell. The scan on the right (p. 106 in the second book) shows some of the details and color inside a spaceship.
Published by Roaring Brook Press / First Second
Zita the Spacegirl (2011, ISBN-13: 9781596434462)
Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (2012, ISBN-13:9781596434479)
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl (2014, ISBN-13:9781596438767)
Source: Review (see review policy)
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