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.