Friday, December 16, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book three hundred and fifty

These days many grownups are feeling very disillusioned by life. We don't have many heroes to look up to, and therefore we don't have many heroes to share with our children, except those that lived in the past, and those that live in books. In today's picture book title (it's actually a graphic novel), readers will meet a child hero who makes a terrible mistake, and who is willing to risk everything to correct that mistake. Zita is someone we can admire. She is someone who, for a change, does the right thing.

Zita the Spacegirl - Book One: Far from homeZita the Spacegirl - Book One: Far from home
Ben Hatke
Graphic Novel
For ages 8 to 12
First Second, 2011, 978-1-59643-446-2
   One day Zita and her friend Joseph are out playing, when they find a small crater in the ground and there is a steaming meteoritic rock lying at the bottom of it. When Zita goes down into the crater to investigate, she finds that there is a strange looking device inside the rock, a square panel with a red button in the middle of it.
   Though Joseph tells her to put the device back, Zita refuses to. Instead, she pushes the red button to see what the device does. At first nothing happens, but then a bright portal opens up in front of the children, and Joseph is grabbed by three tentacles and he is dragged back through the portal, which then closes and disappears.
   At first, Zita is terrified by what has happened, but then she decides that she has to follow Joseph through the portal. After all, it is her fault that he was kidnapped in the first place. Zita pushes the red button and jumps…into a world inhabited by all kinds of weird looking aliens. Zita sees a many-armed alien putting Joseph into a strange flying vessel, and she is unable to do anything as the vessel flies away. Then her portal opening device is stepped on and broken. As if this is not bad enough, she then learns that the planet she is on is about to be hit by an asteroid and destroyed. Somehow Zita has to find Joseph, save him, and get them both off the planet before it is blown to bits.
   This is the first title in what is clearly going to be a thrilling new graphic novel series. With fabulous illustrations and with characters that are delightfully likeable or dreadfully villainous, this is a book that explores how one very ordinary girl becomes a very extraordinary girl. Challenged by the situation she finds herself in, Zita has to do all kinds of things to help the people (and aliens and robots) that she cares about.
   

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