How can you resist the tag line “Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl”?
Yes, really: this is a graphic novel about Mirka, an Hasidic Jewish girl who lives in the completely Orthodox town of Hereville. She also happens to want to fight dragons and monsters–she always has. Make no mistake, although Hereville is a fictional town, Mirka’s world is a very normal, realistic one; no one ever thinks that Mirka really WILL find dragons and monsters to fight. One of the great charms of the story is the portrayal of Mirka’s large blended family, and the daily interaction between her sisters, brother, and stepsister. Her stepmother (NOT wicked) Fruma is a particularly wonderful character in her own right.
All of this domesticity notwithstanding, however, one day Mirka is running through the woods (fleeing some boys who she stopped from bullying her younger brother) and sees a woman flying through the air. Clearly this woman is a witch. It stands to reason! But nobody believes her about the witch, and REALLY nobody believes her about the enormous, talking pig that starts chasing her around town, causing her to behave in scandalous, unorthodox ways. In an effort to stop the pig from ruining her reputation, she sets out to trap the pig, encounters the witch again, and (naturally) ends up in a duel with a troll. And all of this with her brother Zindel constantly tagging along.
This book is hilarious and delightful, both in the text–which teaches the reader quite a bit about Judaism, without being didactic–and in the pictures–which are in a deceptively simple style slightly reminiscent of early-20th century cartoons or advertisements. I saw an interview with the author, who intimated that there might be future volumes of Mirka’s adventures, and I can only hope he was telling the truth. I’d love to read more about Hereville–after all, Mirka hasn’t even met a dragon yet.
Posted by: Sarah