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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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Hereville jumped out at me particularly because on the cover of the graphic novel, one reads "Yet another Troll-Fighting 11-year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl". Library collections can always use more female heroes, especially heroes representing different cultures. Being married to a Jewish woman, I have come to learn that much of my community is inexperienced with Jewish culture, primarily because it is a minority among many. This is a superb read for girls and boys who are ready to experience an atypical story while getting a sneak peak of the orthodox jewish life from a young gir's perpspective. This is surely one of my favorite reads of the year!
1 vote MicahCorporaal | Mar 17, 2014 |
This is, in my estimation, nearly as perfect a youth graphic novel as you can get. Mirka is an inspiring heroine, and I loved the warm portrayal of Orthodox Judaism and family, even as Mirka engages in untraditional girl behaviors like swordfighting trolls. ( )
1 vote kahansen | Feb 27, 2014 |
Mirka is an adventurous girl growing up in an insular Orthodox Jewish community. In encounters with a witch, a troll, and a talking pig, she combines quick thinking and determination with lessons learned from her family in order to come out on top. It's bit like (a much more child-friendly) Pan's Labyrinth. Especially of note is the setting, a deeply religious community with little contact with the outside world, to the point where it's not even clear what country or time period it's taking place in. The author paints an engaging and three-dimensional portrait of the town of Hereville, lovingly depicting a rich culture without sugar-coating the fact that it's also pretty repressive in a number of ways--Mirka has to smuggle in books that aren't on the narrow list of approved reading, among other things, and I must admit my reaction to a lot of it was, "wow, I would not have survived if I'd been born here". I'd recommend this book to kids who are interested in learning about different cultures, fans of books that blend magic and realism, and anyone who just likes to argue for the sake of argument or look at thinks from different angle (depicted here as a useful skill and a part of mental flexibility -- in the climax, Mirka seemingly fails a knitting challenge against a troll, but successfully outwits him by challenging his assumptions about what makes a sweater "better".) ( )
1 vote PlasticAtoms | Feb 10, 2014 |
great reviews
  TBE | Oct 8, 2013 |
Summary: Mirka is an 11 year old orthodox Jewish girl who lives in the Jewish community of Hereville. Mirka dreams of being a brave dragon fighter, though her step mother dreams of her learning to knit, getting an education, and setting a good example for her many siblings. Mirka encounters a woman she believes to be witch in the forest, and brings her friends and siblings to see. When Mirka steals a giant grape from the woman's yard, a giant monster attacks her. The monster turns out to be a large pig, which as a Jew, Mirka has never had contact with. Mirka makes a deal with the pig to stop harassing her, and the witch returns to make an offer to her. Mirka can have a great sword if she can defeat a troll, and the witch says that Mirka's step mother has the knowledge she will need to do so. Mirka barely defeats the troll and escapes with her life.

Personal Reaction: I did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. It lacked the humor I expected from it's tag line, "Yet another Troll-Fighting 11 year old orthodox Jewish girl". The illustrations were black, white and gray on deep burgundy pages, brighter colors may have drawn more attention to the scenes around the girl. I did like that the Yiddish terminology that was used by the characters was translated at the bottom of the pages.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. A series of critical thinking puzzles and problems that would demonstrate to students how to solve a problem without force.
2. Bring in some silly looking sweaters to compare to the ones Mirka and the troll knitted.
3. Explore Jewish traditions mentioned in the book during a multicultural themed week. ( )
  Sara.rivera | Sep 9, 2013 |
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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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