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Pickle Me This

August 28, 2014

In which we fall in love with Zita the Space Girl

zitahammock

zitaWhile it’s true that the summer of 2014 will be remembered (by us) for all sorts of things—the summer we listened to the Frozen soundtrack every time we went in the car; the summer we read Farmer Boy and were bowled over by the force of Almanzo Wilder’s appetite; the summer Harriet watched Annie every day for weeks and weeks; the summer we once ate 36 Creamsicles in six days—it all really comes down to that this is the summer we fell in love with Zita the Spacegirl. Whom we discovered when I was stopping into Bakka Phoenix Books (because we are still spoiled for bookstore choice in this neighbourhood, even after the closing of my beloved Book City) to pick up a copy of Jo Walton’s My Real Children to give to my mom for my birthday (and you already know how much I love this book, right?).

legendsThere was a fetching comic book displayed at the cash, and it caught my eye and Harriet’s. “That’s Zita,” we were told. “She’s wonderful.”** And so we came back a few weeks later to buy a copy of the first book in the trilogy. We’re already mad for comic books, and space travel is cool, plus she’s a female superhero—nothing could be more perfect. And the books turned out to be as great as we were promised, with vivid colour illustrations, great writing, delightful and surprising characters, enough robots and aliens to keep things interesting, and the indomitable Zita herself, who is so brave, honourable, fallible, spunky and real. She is a champion of so many things, but first and foremost, a champion of friendship. I love that.

return of zitaIn the first book, Zita and her friend, Joseph, are playing around and discover a strange device with a bright red button. Being Zita, she presses it, opening a portal to space into which Joseph is taken. After some despairing at what she’s done to her friend, Zita goes in after him, and sets about saving her friend, who’s been captured on this strange planet which is due to be hit with a meteor in due course. She makes unlikely friends, fights foes, and is mistakenly given credit for saving the planet, becoming celebrated as a hero. She manages to get Joseph back to earth, but is not able to get back herself, which she’s not entirely unhappy about, looking forward to adventure as she gets ready to “take the long way home.”

The next two books are just as terrific, Zita getting herself out of difficult situations, standing up for justice and the downtrodden, overcoming odds, and staying loyal to her pals. Things settle down nicely by the end of the third book, though it’s just open-ended enough for us to dare to hope that we’ve not seen the last of Zita yet.

Though even if we have, her creator, Ben Hatke, is up to cool things. His latest project is the picture book, Julia’s Home for Lost Creatures, which is out next month. We ordered our copy today.

**And please note that this is the magic of bookstores, such connections happening. No algorithm could have ever ever done that.

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