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How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch
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How Mirka Got Her Sword (2010)

by Barry Deutsch

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Deutsch, Barry. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword. 2010. $15.95. Amulet. 98-0-8109-8422-6. Ages 10-14.
Mirka is an orthodox Jew, along with all the other residents of Hereville. But rather than knitting and planning ahead for the matchmaking process, Mirka is determined to fight dragons. Then Mirka meets a witch in the forest, and after eating some of her grapes Mirka finds herself being terrorized by a pig, which none of her friends or teachers can fathom. After defeating the pig, the witch tells Mirka where she can get a good sword for dragon fighting - if she can outwit the ogre who owns it in a knitting battle. This graphic novel features pen and Ink illustrations in monochromatic shades of orange, sepia, and blue. A mixture of classic panel design with some full spreads and illustrations that break their boundaries, much like their main character defies the boundaries of her society. Full of Deutsch’s tongue-in-cheek humor, this unexpected and clever story is also instructive: Yiddish words are incorporated and explained in footnotes, as are other practices like the Shabbas dinner. Highly recommended. Ages 10-14. ( )
  alovett | Nov 20, 2014 |
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch is a graphic novel that features another strong female lead in the role of the unlikely but willing hero. Of all the recent books, I've read, Mirka reminds me most of September from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Mirka lives in an Orthodox Jewish community. She wants to learn sword fighting but is stuck learning knitting instead. Just like September and her mother's wrench, she learns how to wield the weaponry she is given. Here, the threat is a troll and the battle takes place in the nearby forest, rather than far away fairyland. The need for wits and unusual weaponry, though, is the same.

The artwork is done in a sepia scheme with strong lines. Stylistically it's somewhere between Hope Larson and Marjane Satrapi.

The one distraction, for me, were all the asides explaining either Jewish culture or the Yiddish and Hebrew words being used by the characters. A simple glossary or appendix for those who need it would have sufficed. ( )
  pussreboots | Nov 18, 2014 |
Hereville is a well-executed and engaging graphic novel that tells the unexpected story of Mirka, an Orthodox Jewish girl who escapes the tedium of her day-to-day life by going on adventures in the woods outside her home town. The fantastical plot and surprising, clearly articulated characters will appeal to middle- and high-school readers of any religion. The illustrations are a mix of rounded edges and sharp corners, done in bold black ink. The muted colors are used to express mood: when Mirka goes on her quest to find and slay a troll at night, the color of the pages shifts from soft orange to blue-grey to convey a sense of mystery and magic. The dynamic illustrations often tell the story independent of text. One of the most interesting aspects of Hereville is that, in the story’s world, Orthodox Judaism is the norm. There are notes to help readers who are not familiar with Judaism, but the characters’ religion and traditions are not treated as strange or exceptional. The themes of the story grapple with issues inherent in many religious communities: among them identity, family, culture, and gender. Mirka, who longs to slay dragons, struggles with a community that thinks girls should marry and raise children, and she must find a way to accommodate tradition while staying true to herself. Readers from middle-grade through adulthood will find in Mirka a hero to cheer for. Highly Recommended. Grade 6+ ( )
  kottenbrookk | Oct 23, 2014 |
One day on her way to school Mirka Hirschberg discovers a house that she’s never seen before in her town of Hereville and in the yard of this house is a woman pruning a tree while floating ten feet off the ground. Mirka plucks one of the enormous grapes hanging on the fence of the house, and she’s set upon by a monster. The monster turns out to be a pig, but since Hereville is town inhabited only by Orthodox Jews, Mirka has never seen one, and doesn’t know what to call it until enlightened by her more worldly step-sister. Since Mirka’s ambition in life is to be a dragon slayer, she vows that she’s not going to be defeated by a pig. But when she sets a trap for the pig, she ends up having to battle a troll! ( )
  MaowangVater | Jul 27, 2014 |
Being my first graphic novel, I was unsure of what to expect. But I couldn't put this book down. The creativity of illustrations made it aesthetically pleasing, while the dialogue was easy to follow and kept the story moving. Seeing as it was a book based around the Orthodox Jewish religion, I also think it was a helpful touch to add Jewish words with their meanings at the bottom of the page. I would not have expected to learn about another religion while reading about a girl meeting witches and fighting trolls. It's a quick read, but a worthwhile one. It was clear what text was being spoken and what was setting/character information. Each character was thought out and redeemed in the end. I could see this book being enjoyed by children of any age. ( )
  ghelmus | May 28, 2014 |
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Spunky, strong-willed eleven-year-old Mirka Herschberg isn’t interested in knitting lessons from her stepmother, or how-to-find-a-husband advice from her sister, or you-better-not warnings from her brother. There’s only one thing she does want: to fight dragons!
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Mirka is not interested in doing traditional things girls like to do--she wants to fight dragons and needs a sword.

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