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Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Barry Deutsch , Literary Agency Hansen

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5. Oktober 2010 Hereville
The first ever wisecracking, troll-fighting, Orthodox Jewish heroine! Mirka, a spunky, strong-willed, eleven-year-old girl, is very clear on one thing: she doesn't want to sit home knitting, she wants to go out and fight dragons! Granted, no dragons have been breathing fire around the Orthodox Jewish community she lives in, but that doesn't stop the plucky girl from honing her fighting skills (against local bullies), accepting a witch's challenge (to gain a sword), and besting a troll (when knitting does come in handy). This charming, quirky, skillfully rendered graphic novel is Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Isaac Bashevis Singer. story sure to appeal to middle-school readers.

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Barry Deutsch attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and Portland State University. He has won awards for his work, most notably the national Charles M. Schultz award for best college cartoonist. He was nominated for the 2008 Russ Manning Award for Promising Newcomer.


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5.0 von 5 Sternen The mighty queen of Hereville 1. November 2010
Von E. R. Bird - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
"Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl," says the byline. Well seriously. How was I supposed to pass that up? I'd grabbed a copy of Hereville at an American Library Association conference along with a whole host of other books. I don't think I even gave it half a glance at the time. Just nabbed, stuffed, and scooted. It was only back in the comfort of my hotel room as I repacked my bags that the byline got my attention. I sat down for a quick look. Twenty minutes later I was still reading, with no intention at all of repacking anything until I was done. In my experience, fantasy novels for children do not like to involve religion in any way, shape, or form. And children's graphic novels? Puh-leeze. You're as likely to find a copy of Babymouse wax rhapsodic on the topic of organized religion as you are a copy of Harry Potter. So to read Barry Deutsch's book is to experience a mild marvel. There is religion, fantasy, knitting, some of the best art I've seen since The Secret Science Alliance, and a story that actually makes you sit up and feel something. This is like nothing I've ever encountered before, and I think it's truly remarkable. Without a doubt, this is the best graphic novel of 2010 for kids. Bar none.

Mirka has a dream, but it's not the kind of thing that gets a lot of support. More than anything else in the entire world she wants to fight dragons. The problem? She's eleven, a girl, and she lives in the Jewish Orthodox town of Hereville. Still, Mirka gets a bit closer to her dream when she incurs the wrath of a witch's pig, then does it a good deed, thereby indebting its witch to her. As it turns out, the witch tells Mirka that there is a good sword in the neighborhood, but the only way to get it is to defeat a troll. And when push comes to shove, Mirka's going to have to use all her smarts and cunning to defeat an enemy that prizes one of the arts she loathes the most.

Think about children's fantasy novels and religion for a moment. Religion in fantasies for kids tends to skew one of three ways. You can incorporate it and make it the entire point of the novel (Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, the Narnia books of C.S. Lewis or Madeleine L'Engle's The Wrinkle in Time series which is technically science fiction anyway). You can make up an entirely new religion of your own (as in the novels of Frances Hardinge, Tamora Pierce, Megan Whalen Turner, etc.). Or you just sorta forget about it. Remember, in the Harry Potter novels there may be churches and Christmas, but when wizards marry there's only a vague representative of some unnamed religion presiding. And children's graphic novels are in such an infant phase at this point that religion never even comes up half the time. The Bone books by Jeff Smith aren't about to launch into a treatise of religious doctrines (though Phoney Bone does strike me as a Calvinist at his core).

So Hereville is remarkable right off the bat because it isn't afraid. It says, "Yeah, I'm gonna incorporate religion into this book. Heck, I'm even gonna TEACH about the religion of Orthodox Jews while I'm at it." And darned if Deutsch doesn't! Though Hereville itself might be a made up town inhabited entirely by practitioners of this religion, what we learn all is true and accurate. From the different ways girls can be rebellious, pious, or popular in their near identical school clothes to Shabbos to what the three braids of the khale represent (truth, peace, and justice), it's all in there without ever sounding like you're being taught something. The religion is integral to the story and you wouldn't want it any other way.

Deutsch's storytelling, which is also above par, makes this book very much a hero's quest. However, to defeat her enemy, the troll, Mirka must use a set of skills she acquired at the beginning of this book. What I love is that the skill that comes to her aid isn't her lamentable knitting (the troll insists on a knitting challenge, which Mirka is slightly less than able to do) but rather the art of debate as acquired from her stepmother. It's the power of prevarication at work. At the same time, you've grown to really care for Mirka and her family. Even when she does bad things, you still understand where she's coming from. There's a sequence where she's hurting her little brother, and the storyline flashes between her actions and images of her mother telling her years ago that she is responsible for keeping him safe. You realize then that Mirka is a real person with dimensions and faults, which is something I always like to find in my middle grade comic fare.

And then there's the art itself. The longer I study it the more remarkable I find it. Sometimes it's just very basic things. The moments when Deutsch chooses to switch between eyes that are merely black dots with eyebrows and when those eyes acquire whites and pupils is key to understanding the book. Then there are the little things you might not even notice. If two characters are talking and one is reluctant to say something, Deutsch might take a beat to have that character flip a braid away that was creeping down her shoulder in the previous panels. There are even times when it seems as though there's a slight manga influence on the book. Not in terms of the look, of course, but more the reaction shots. Mirka staring daggers at Rochel takes on a literal meaning in one panel. In another, Mirka yelling at Zindel to wake up takes the form of a huge panel that literally pushes him to one side.

Can I take a moment to wax rhapsodic about the layouts on these pages too? I mean, this is an art. A true art. Deutsch is so good at breaking up the panels and playing with them. In my favorite sequence, Mirka visualizes a math problem. She's in a situation where she has two friends over and has already cut a cake into thirds. Then a third friend comes over and she has to find a way to divide the thirds equally amongst four people. That situation takes up two pages but in each one there are multiple Mirkas to keep track of. You manage to do it, though, because of the ways in which Deutsch knows to command your eyeballs. You look exactly where you are supposed to, thanks to his cunning art. These are the sorts of things kids take for granted, but they're often difficult to achieve. And it's certainly some of the most sophisticated art I've seen in a children's graphic novel, that's for sure.

Plus I'm a sucker for little details. Since everyone in town has to essentially wear the same clothes, Deutsch finds ways to reclothe Mirka in appropriate ways. From word problems to her final sweater, Mirka's clothing is important. And I loved other details as well. The ways in which Gittel looks like her dead mother while Rochel definitely has the beginnings of Fruma's nose.

Oh. And he also draws really good hands. Knitting hands, hands lighting candles, you name it. I like hands and they are hard to draw. So. There's that.

Confession: Truth be told, there is very little in this book I do not like. What's more, it offers me, a children's librarian, a sneaky way to introduce kids to religions and creeds they might not otherwise have any exposure to in a format they already love. Bereft of any kind of stereotyping you might name, Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword could only make me angry if it failed to produce a sequel in the future. Until then, we'll just have to be content with this. A remarkable little book and, I guarantee, like nothing else you have on your bookstore, library, or personal shelves.

For ages 9-14.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A great graphic novel, and not just for children! 30. Dezember 2010
Von Angus T. Cat - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
E. R. Bird "Ramseelbird" has written a very good review of Hereville: How Mirka Got her Sword. I just wanted to add that I enjoyed the book immensely as an adult and as an eager reader of graphic novels.

When I first heard about Hereville on the internet I was intrigued. The art was impressive, and I was attracted to the book's themes. I've read many graphic novels with Jewish themes, but few about the lives of religious Jewish children. Moreover, the comic strips I've read about Orthodox or Hassidic children centered on boys.

I put the book on my Wish List and I was delighted to receive it as a present. I read it in one sitting. Deutsch's storytelling is engaging and he weaves in the strands of Mirka's tale like a master knitter into a superb creation.

I'm familiar with many children's books as I work in a library and visit the children's section to check out titles that look striking. I'm sure children would love How Mirka Got her Sword. It's wonderful to see a spunky heroine follow her self-confidence and her instincts, not allowing others to discourage either her imagination or her ambitions. I also loved how throughout the book Judaism is not portrayed as something negative or confining, but rather enriching and ennobling. When I was a girl I looked forward to the magazines we were given in Hebrew school which included comics and stories. Alas most were aimed at boys: the ones that addressed girls debated such issues as whether or not a girl could say a blessing over the food on the Sabbath. I would have loved to read Mirka when I was a girl: it's a pleasure to see a girl confront demons -- dragons and trolls and her own personal inner ones -- without agonizing over whether it's appropriate for her gender. It's also refreshing that a craft like knitting, which is seen as a "woman's art", becomes battle of mastery between Mirka and the troll. I knit and I nourished Mirka's arguing that knitting is more powerful when the person has the courage to go off pattern and be creative. Many knitters would agree, and it's an apt moral, not just in the world of knitting sweaters.

Yet it would be a shame if How Mirka Got her Sword were confirmed to children's libraries. Many adults would also find it rewarding. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys graphic novels, or a cracking story well told.

I hope that Hereville becomes a series with more stories about its residents. Deutsch presents a very rich world in How Mirka Got her Sword - one that I hope to be able to explore further in future books.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Unique and wonderful read 3. November 2010
Von Madigan McGillicuddy - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
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.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Publisher's Weekly's Sweet Review 28. September 2010
Von Christian Yetter - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
From Publisher's Weekly Starred Review:
"Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

Spunky Mirka wants to be a dragon-slayer, but everyone in the small Orthodox Jewish community of Hereville is against it. When a witch and a talking pig turn up in the woods near home, Mirka can't help getting involved, much to the dismay of her seven sisters, brother, and argumentative stepmother.

The book brings new material to the original Web comic, completed in 2008, allowing Deutsch to make a great comic even better. His expressive, surprising drawings give life to Mirka's quest and to the unusual and genuine relationships she has with family members and magical creatures. Deutsch weaves in information about Shabbos, phrases in Yiddish (translated at the bottom of the page), illustrations of the different looks (rebel, pious, popular) girls create with the white shirts and long black skirts they wear - and all of it is lively and engaging.

Fantastical elements mesh perfectly with the deep emotional heart of Mirka's story. "I live in the family your mother made, surrounded by her children and under her roof," Mirka's intelligent, prickly, loving stepmother tells her, in one poignant scene. This is a terrific story, told with skill and lots of heart, that readers of all ages will enjoy."
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Mirka is just delightful! 26. Februar 2014
Von BabyMo - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
My oldest daughter is almost seven, and she is an avid reader. She prefers graphic novels to chapter books, and we are always looking for graphic novels with appropriate content for her. We found Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword at the library in the next town over. We enjoyed the book so much that we purchased our own copy. This graphic novel was written and illustrated by Barry Deutsch.

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!
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