Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

The team-up I’ve been waiting for: Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl!

Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke, (Sept. 2019, First Second), $14.99, ISBN: 9781250191731

Ages 8-12

The latest Ben Hatke graphic novel brings together two of his best series: Zita the Spacegirl and Mighty Jack. It’s a team-up he teased in 2017’s Mighty Jack and the Goblin King, and I have been waiting patiently for two years to find out what was going to happen.

After Zita and her friends arrive from their space-hopping adventures, Jack and his family have been housing and feeding the group. Lily, Jack’s neighbor, who helped him fight the giants and rescue Maddy, his sister, is on edge, though. Is she jealous of Zita, or is there something more to it? Meanwhile, the giants are growing stronger and getting ready to invade above-ground: the gate between worlds is growing weaker, and they’re ready to use it to their advantage. Zita, Jack, Lily, and Maddy have to get ready to battle once more.

I’ve been a fan of Ben Hatke since 2012, when I first read Zita the Spacegirl. I love Hatke’s art, I love his storytelling and world-building, and I love sharing his books with the kids at my libraries. Hatke is a great storyteller, giving each of his characters a rich backstory and exciting quest. He also weaves the fantastic with the everyday, giving us robots, dragons, giants, goblins alongside a terrified mother, the complexity of navigating tween friendships, and the frustration of being “ordinary”.

Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl is a wonderful chapter in the Zita/Jack saga. Is it the end? Well… you just have to pick it up and read it for yourself. Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Teen, Tween Reads

Summer Reading for Tweens and Teens! Refeatured Reviews!

The New York Summer Reading Lists for Tweens and Teens Summer Reading look pretty fantastic this year. I’ve read a few of the books on the list, so I thought I’d reshare those reviews to get you started.


The City of Ember is a great beginning to a hugely popular series. Imagine a post-apocalyptic society that went underground to survive. They live off the meager light produced by generators. But after so long underground, the power is going out in Ember. There’s been rumor that there’s a way out… who will be brave enough to uncover the truth about Ember?




Icefall is an amazing book that I was lucky enough to read when I was on the Cybils Awards panel a couple of years ago. A Viking warrior king’s children are sequestered away while their father is at war. A storm encloses their stronghold in ice, and they learn that there’s a traitor in their midst.





Zita the Spacegirl is a graphic novel series that I’ve evangelized from day one. I love the story, I love the art, and most importantly, I love the character. Zita is a spunky Earth girl who finds herself in space on an adventure. Her adventure continues in Legends of Zita the Spacegirl and Return of Zita the Spacegirl – don’t miss out on this series.




In Darkness won the Michael L. Printz Award in 2013, with good reason. This taut story of a young Haitian gang member trapped in the rubble of a hospital in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake is compulsively readable, equally parts fascinating and brutal.

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Science Fiction, Tween Reads

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl is out of this world!

legends of zitaLegends of Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke. :01 First Second (2012), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-59643-806-4

Recommended for ages 8-14

I just realized that while I’d reviewed both Zita the Spacegirl and the upcoming Return of Zita the Spacegirl, I never wrote a review for the second book in this great series – so I re-read it in order to remedy the situation.

When we rejoin Zita in the second book in her series, she has found intergalactic fame as The Girl Who Saved Scriptorious. Creatures from all over the galaxy are clamoring to meet her, and fame has become a bit overwhelming for Zita. When she encounters a robot that looks just like her, she decides to let the robot handle fame while she and Mouse take off to relax and be anonymous for a while. The only problem is, the robot is an Imprint-o-Tron, which eventually tries to replace their targets – and when two aliens seek “Zita”‘s help in saving their planet from the interstellar scavengers, the Star Hearts, Zita-bot is all too happy to lend a hand, stirring up trouble for Zita and her friends.

I am a big Zita fan, and this second book has every bit of the spirit of fun and adventure that the first book (and the upcoming third) do. We see a slightly different Zita here -she’s overwhelmed by fame, she wants to go home, and she ultimately learns about the power of sacrifice – she’s a more mature Zita who is still, at heart, a kid. The Imprint-o-Tron reminds me of Pinocchio, who wanted to be a real boy. The Imprint-o-Tron, or as I started calling her, the Zita-bot, isn’t bad – she’s following her programming, and she really seems to want to be Zita, to face the exciting adventures that Zita does. There are some great messages to be found in this second book.

There are some great resources on the Web for using Zita materials in the classroom. Comics Are Great has a downloadable lesson plan, along with an hour-long podcast dedicated to the book, where teachers, librarians, and cartoonists discussing the book.

The Zita trilogy is a great middle-grade graphic novel series. She stands as a good role model for any girl or boy who seizes the power of imagination and inner courage.

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Humor, Science Fiction, Tween Reads

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl – A WhatchaReading Review!

Great sagas come to an end – maybe. But we’ll get to that. For anyone who hasn’t heard of Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl, I urge you to get to a library, a bookstore, or a friend with an enviable graphic novel collection and check her out, because she is fantastic. I first met her when Chuck, our editor monkey, handed me a copy of the first book and said, “You have to read this. It’s all you.” And it was. I quickly read Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, and was delighted when a review copy of Return of Zita the Spacegirl showed up on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago.

Check out my review on WhatchaReading!