"review" · arc · comics/graphic novels · concenter · juvenile lit · recommend · series

{comics} welcome back to Hereville

Thanks to Abrams and NetGalley I got a sneak peek at the sequel to Barry Deutsch’s Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword. It should be noted that the advanced copy/peek was pre-color and still sketched at the end, so I cannot speak to the color throughout or any detailing toward the end, but I can say that it is drawn and formatted consistent to the first book (that is good news, by the way). Love the cover.


How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch

Amulet Books (imprint of Abrams), 2012. 128 pages.

Mirka is back, and she’s still the only sword-brandishing, monster-fighting Orthodox Jewish girl in town. Or so she thinks.

When a misguided troll aims a meteor at the witch’s house, the witch grabs hold of the closest thing possible to transform the flying, flaming rock-and that would be Mirka’s hair. The meteor is changed, all right: it’s now Mirka’s identical twin.

Doppelganger Mirka, vowing to be a better version of the real girl, sets out to charm all of Hereville, including Mirka’s own family. Our heroine challenges the meteor girl to a three-part contest . . . and the loser will be banished from Hereville forever!—publisher’s comments.


How Mirka Met a Meteorite picks up after the events in the first, unsurprisingly grounded. So while she finally has the sword to fight dragons, she is stuck in the house—knitting. Before she gets unleashed on the world (trading curtain rods for an actual sword) it is a nice time for those new to Mirka to get to know her. You should really read the first, but Deutsch acquaints (and reminds) readers just who our lovely protagonist is. And it becomes of vital importance to know who Mirka really is—for Mirka and her family and friends.

“Isn’t there anything special about me at all?”

How Mirka Met a Meteorite provides a very nice exploration on identity, of knowing who you are and who you want to be; the things you wish you were good at, and the things you already are good at—and the things you are actually good at. It’s a nice exploration because Mirka is funny and earnest and so so brash! And her half-sister Rachel is so sweet and earnest and wise. And it’s a nice exploration because the adventure that facilitates it defies expectation. Mirka is one of a kind.


{page 87 (via bk site, see below). I really appreciate what the fluidity, his lack of hard edged (or any) paneling, does for the story. for instance, the bottom half of this page could be read chronologically or in simultaneity.

How Mirka Got Her Sword is a success and I was pleased to find Mirka’s encounter with the Meteorite as thoroughly enjoyable in story and illustration. I am eager to see the effect of some of the sequences in book form (and with color) even though they were still fun to view in my Adobe Reader–Deutsch does movement really well. And expression. For example, the above image emotes and storytells quite effectively without text or true context (though I’m sure you are recalling the publisher’s synopsis).

That previous characters return is of no surprise, but Deutsch does thread elements and references from the first, like the very covers, the ball of yarn, grapes, a pig, and I find Mirka knitting very amusing. I enjoy Deutsch’s sense of humor and his imaginative flair; as well as his inclusion of that charming little Totoro doll on Rachel’s bed (43). And those glimpses into the culture and language of our Orthodox Jew protagonist?–yeah they are still present and influential to the story. Thank you Barry Deutsch for offering us something so different from our standard fare.

How Mirka Met a Meteorite is a delightful follow-through of How Mirka Got Her Sword. I am very much looking forward to exploring it again with you upon its release in November.* So mark your calendars for the 1st (or pre-order/request).

*convenient timing for Christmas? I think so. This is one of those series you should be adding to your shelf; for your young person and you.

recommendations… ages 8 & up;  girls & boys; readers of comics or no; lovers of tales, fantasy, the comedic, the cultural, and/or the highly dramatic yet short lived games of chess. this one is for fans of Jimmy Gownley’s Amelia Rules! without a doubt, and I would add that Jeff Smith’s Bone fans would probably like it, as well as Will Eisner’s (as his illustrations certainly came to mind during the read; and coincidentally, he speaks to this in the interview below).

of note: this review is my pleasure. I was not paid or bribed in anyway. one of these times, though…

my review of Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword.

do checkout Hereville.com

{all images belong to Barry Deutsch (found via the book’s site)/Abrams; after the cover, (1) penciled title page. (2) from page 87. visit the site for more images and information about the author/illustrator}

I found this great interview on the Hereville site; thought I would embed it here, too.

I love his suggestion that we exchange “strong” for “rich” in reference to female characters.  and hey, he went to Portland State, too!

he does school visits, so Portland friends, check that out.

"review" · comics/graphic novels · juvenile lit · recommend

geeks + grieving = fantastic read

covermiloMilo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze

written and illustrated by Alan Silberberg

Aladdin (Simon & Schuster Children’s), 2010.

(hardback) 275 pages.

Loveable geek Milo Cruikshank finds reasons for frustration at every turn, like people who carve Halloween pumpkins way too soon (the pumpkins just rot and get lopsided) or the fact that the girl of his dreams, Summer, barely acknowledges his existence while next-door neighbor Hilary won’t leave him alone.

The truth is – ever since Milo’s mother died nothing has gone right. Now, instead of the kitchen being full of music, his whole house has been filled with Fog. Nothing’s the same. Not his Dad. Not his sister. And definitely not him. In love with the girl he sneezed on the first day of school and best pals with Marshall, the “One Eyed Jack” of friends, Milo copes with being the new kid (again) as he struggles to survive a school year that is filled with reminders of what his life “used to be.”

Brimming with heart, humor, and ultimately hope, Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze is a powerhouse of a novel that will stay with you well after you’ve turned the last page.~inside cover.

Melissa @ “Book Nut” wrote a really good review of Alan Silberberg’s Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze. Her mention of the book had me curious and requesting it from the Library. The daughter got ahold of it first (doesn’t the cover scream Middle-Grader?). She loved it and put it back in my pile, “This one is really good, mom.”

Despite the serious aspect of a 13 year old trying to keep going after his mother dies, a good portion of the setting is in the comedic (groaning) travails of Junior High (or Middle School for some of you).

That you know Milo is going to be humorous is evident from the first page.

Summer Goodman never knew what hit her. That’s because it was me, and as soon as I collided with her in the hallway—scattering every one of her perfectly indexed index cards—I disappeared into the mob of kids who’d arrived to help realphabetize her life.

I love Summer Goodman but she barely knows I exist, which I’m pretty okay with because when you love someone, they don’t have to do anything—and Summer does nothing, so I think it’s all going to work out great.

A few other things will become more noticeable. The nicely worded sentence. The serious couched in comedy. Feelings of embarrassment for the main character, Milo (who narrates).

In a way, Milo reads like a Steven Spielberg movie from the 80s, narrated by someone like Chunk from Goonies (1985) or DJ from Monster House (2006). Milo is at turns creepy/weird (naively-stalking boy) and pitiable (that sneeze was gross, but his optimistic thoughts about it were more so). Milo is also so human he grows on you. And I get the feeling plenty of readers will identify with him. Silberberg has captured the essence of plenty of 13 year old children (boy or girl). And then he adds the conflict of Loss and Grief.

The timeline of events leading up to the present are revealed throughout. The first pages are Milo’s life getting started at a new school/neighborhood. It isn’t until pages 13-14 that Milo begins to address his mother in the past tense, that you learn she was sick. Milo slowly unravels, even as the story tightens.

The progression of the story is nicely done. You move into the “fog”, the sadness and grieving, by degrees. Finding friends and interacting with the opposite sex. The awkward moments become more tender. Though there are still plenty of painful scenes. By the end, tears are sliding, but they are the good kind. Milo/Silberberg has a way of talking about the mother that is truly beautiful, and his struggles are wonderfully rendered.


Milo sneezing on, yes, Summer Goodman (2).

Silberberg does the illustrations in the book. They are a nice addition to the story (especially for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid). They keep to the light and comic and youthful. Their moments are no less poignant when necessary, a nice accompaniment.

Milo takes the weighty and keeps it afloat, determinedly so. This is a book about mourning and moving forward that is accessible to a greater audience than most. Quite fantastic. And it can just be plain fun. Some growing pains of the flinching sort, the kind most could laugh over, and a sweet lessons learned ending. Really, the ending is wonderful.

The suggested ages are 9-13. I agree. Boys, girls, readers, non-readers, comic lovers, literati…

Grown-ups could enjoy this as well, a fairly quick read. As a mother, I was effected by the read, thinking about my time spent with my family and my roles in the household…remembering with deep sighs what it was to be 13 and the weirdness we all harbor that makes us individuals and quite awesome… A good read, a good afternoon spent.


Thinking about Silberberg’s humorous treatment of the story, despite the depression at the core, I am reminded of Kirsten Tracy’s Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus (Yearling, 2010), who’s protagonist deals with fighting parents—which I would recommend (though I think girls 8-12 would dig it over boys of the same age).

Alan Silberberg’s site.

another review of Milo I happened across at “Chocolate Air.”

my post on Camille McPhee.