Review: Hereville - How Mirka Met a Meteorite / Writer: Barry Deutsch / Art: Barry Deutsch / Publisher: Amulet Books / Release Date: Out Now
Aimed squarely at the 8-12 year old market, this graphic novel follows the adventures of Mirka, an 11 year old Orthodox Jewish girl with a passion for adventure. Expect monsters, sword-fighting, berets... oh yes, and a meteorite! The artwork imbues the protagonists with profound, vibrant character, and dynamically brings Mirka and her family to life. Over the 124 pages you find individuals fleshed out and crafted with great care and a lot of love. These characters are not just people populating the pages for the sake of it, they are realistic and true-to-life. This includes the Troll. You could quite easily meet these people in everyday life, which helps balance the fantasy of the story beautifully.
Mirka's mother is the individual through which we learn a little of Judaism, and is the calming, sombre balance to the adventure and strife of Mirka and her siblings. It does not intrude too much on the story itself and is used as an anchoring point throughout. There’s just enough to put their lives in context and to peak the curious young mind into finding out more about the Jewish faith and its history. The thrust of the story however is squarely on Mirka and the meteorite.
This story is one that can be enjoyed by both adults and children. There are moments throughout which summoned a chuckle from this reviewer, which perhaps a younger reader wouldn't understand. Humour is woven throughout with great skill, matching how well the frustration and anger of Mirka is played out. The emotional conversation she has with her mother is a defining moment for her and in the story; it is the one scene that has left a lasting impression.
The adventure of Mirka is magical, scary, funny and deeply emotional. Here is a book that is asking your children 'what sort of person do you want to be?' In a culture so caught up with cheap reality television and tabloid sensation, this is a little reassuring voice in the crowd. Its central message is all about being the better version of yourself, and perhaps not in the way we expect.
If you have a young daughter into which you'd like to instil a deep and profound love of graphic novels you could do worse than slipping How Mirka Met a Meteorite into their stocking this Christmas.