Here­ville: How Mir­ka Got Her Sword

  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
Mir­ka, the star of this unusu­al graph­ic nov­el, is an 11-year-old Ortho­dox Jew­ish girl who wants to fight drag­ons, not take knit­ting lessons from her step­moth­er. In their town of Here­ville, which some­times feels like a old world shtetl and some­time feels quite mod­ern, Mir­ka and her sib­lings go to school, help around the house, and occa­sion­al­ly bick­er, activ­i­ties with which most young read­ers will eas­i­ly iden­ti­fy. An encounter with an angry pig takes Mir­ka under­wa­ter, where she expe­ri­ences a vision of her late moth­er and meets a witch who tells her how to find a hid­den sword. She meets a troll in the woods, and he chal­lenges her to a knit­ting con­test. As Mir­ka has not paid much atten­tion to her knit­ting lessons,she is pleased that she is able to knit the required sweater, though it requires some fast think­ing on her part to jus­ti­fy the extra sleeve she knit­ted. The troll declares her the win­ner of the con­test, and she returns home with the sword in hand, ready to knit more while she awaits her next adven­ture. The illus­tra­tions are fun, ably enhanc­ing the text. Foot­notes define the Hebrew and Yid­dish terms to make this charm­ing book acces­si­ble to a wider audi­ence. Deutsch’s uses the graph­ic nov­el for­mat to tell a unique sto­ry that will appeal to fans of the genre, and make new ones, too. For ages 11 – 15.
Mar­ci Lavine Bloch earned her MLS from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land, a BA from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and an MA in Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture from Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty. She has worked in syn­a­gogue and day school libraries and is cur­rent­ly fin­ish­ing her term on the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Committee.

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