Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hereville review

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

This wonderful middle-grade graphic novel covers the adventures of Mirka Herschberg, "yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl." Mirka, a bit of an imaginative tomboy, doesn't feel that she fits in amongst her nine sisters. She's terrible at knitting and most household chores, and longs for adventure, preferably slaying dragons or the like. Sadly, her greatest enemy (besides a basketful of knitting, of course) is a local wild pig, fond of pushing her over on her hike through the woods to school.

One of the things that really struck me about this book was the seamless blend of ordinary life and the fantastical. Mirka lives in a world where she knows trolls, witches and dragons must exist... yet, her warm and loving family and the ordinary daily tribulations she must handle at school are so expertly drawn, you nearly wonder if she's only imagined the fantasy elements. When Mirka approaches her stepmother with her worries that her mother may be a dybbuk (a restless, wandering spirit) her stepmother reassures her, "I live in the family your mother made, surrounded by her children and under her roof, I think I'd know it if she were still here." Unobtrusive footnotes for many of the Yiddish phrases were most welcome.

After meeting a mysterious woman in the woods (she must be a witch, Mirka decides) she manages to get directions to a hidden (magical?) sword. The adventure is on! Armed only with the knowledge that the sword is guarded by a troll, and that trolls are often easily outwitted, she sneaks out prepared to do battle. When she goes to challenge the troll (brilliantly rendered as an odd cross between a grumpy middle-aged man and a gigantic spider) the last thing that she is expecting is for him to threaten to have her for dinner, unless she can knit a beautiful sweater that very evening. It's a knit-off, as Mirka and the troll furiously clack knitting needles to see who will be victorious.

Deutsch really plays with the graphic novel format, breaking up the panels in many different ways, lending a lot of visual interest and an easy flow to the story. This book is worth a read, and then a re-read to pick up all of the tiny little details hidden in the illustrations.  I highly recommend it.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.


  1. I've never heard of this before; it sounds really awesome! I'm a fledgling graphic novel fan. My interest has been piqued! Haha.

    Thanks for visiting my blog earlier. I'll definitely be coming back to yours! :D

  2. I don't read a lot of graphic novels, but I really, really enjoyed this one.
    The ARC I read was in black and white... now I want to re-read the finished version so I can see it in color!



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