Monday, February 28, 2011

Children's Book Spotlight: A Great Graphic Novel by Ben Hatke

As I've written before, no one is more surprised than me that graphic novels have become one of my favorite genres of children's books.  The quality and freshness of quite a few (but not all) recent titles makes me really happy for the future of book publishing.

So, last weekend, browsing through the new books section of our very small but wonderful local library, I spied a newer graphic novel, Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke, the illustrator of one of my all-time favorite picture books, Angel in the Waters, by Regina Doman.  And if you've never read Angel in the Waters, which I give as a new baby gift, you are truly missing out on one of the classics of all time.

First in a series, Zita the Spacegirl: Far from Home, is essentially an space adventure about a girl who makes a bad decision and works hard to set it right.  A favorite part?  How cool it is that a graphic novel begins with a quote from GK Chesterton: "There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there.  The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place."

The book to me has elements of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, and even a few plot lines (note to Mr. Hatke--I didn't like the giant spiders in The Hobbit, and I don't like the giant spider-like space creatures here--couldya consider leaving them out of future books?), in that it portrays a flawed character on a "mission" of sorts and how that person can choose the good and become better for it.  There's no explicit religious message, just great good fun and adventure.

I can't wait for the upcoming volumes in this terrific new series!

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