I love the moments when I can recall a book off the top of my head and impress my library patrons with my book knowledge. It's always fun and makes me feel a bit like a superhero. It's easy to remember the popular always asked for series and where they are located, who the author is, or the order of a series. But it's even more fun when you are given just a few details about something and you can come up with the book a patron is looking for.
I had a young boy come into my library one evening with his very stumped grandmother. He had been talking about a book where a girl and her friend hit a red box and that's all he could remember. His grandmother said he had been looking for it for awhile and couldn't recall the title. I immediately said "Zita the Spacegirl!" Luckily we had the first Zita book on the shelf that evening and my young patron went hope very happy to rediscover the book he was looking for.
There are so many things I love about Zita the Spacegirl. I love her spunk and charm. I love that even though she finds herself lost in space on a crazy adventure and is trying to get home, she is always looking out for others and trying to help them. She finds good in people and wants to help those around her. She's funny and even though she might be seen as a savior of planets, she's still a normal girl who just wants a day off to have some fun. She doesn't always enjoy the celebrity of being Zita the Spacegirl, but she accepts it as well. She's a wonderfully strong character and I like that she's a girl who goes on awesome space missions to save those around her. She's resourceful, has a fun cast of characters around her, and she gets to pilot some awesome spaceships!
In my review of the first Zita the Spacegirl book, I said "One thing I love about graphic novels is the way the artist can connect the reader to the characters and portray emotion in a powerful way. Ben Hatke excels in that and there were characters I grew to love in this short graphic novel."
And as I re-read the first two Zita books and read the third title in preparation for this tour, I was reminded of how much I love Ben Hatke's artwork and storytelling. I love his art style. I've been thinking about how best to explain it, but I'm stuck. All I know is that Ben Hatke's art makes me connect with his story and characters. When Zita is homesick, I'm homesick. When Zita is trying to save others, I want her to succeed. When I come across a large spread of Zita traveling through space, I have to stop and take in every detail of the artwork because I want to soak it all in. I love how the story combines humor and heart. Strong-Strong makes me smile with his big heart. I love Mouse's loyalty to Zita and Piper's sometimes sly ways and his wit. I love how Zita's story somewhat reminds me of a Wizard of Oz set in space tale. And I love how throughout the three books, the story weaves together and details you read about it book one come back in the third book for a nice full circle.
There is so much to love about Zita the Spacegirl. Yet I think what I love the most about this series of graphic novels is recommending it to other readers. It's a great adventure story, a fantastic space story, and a wonderful graphic novel. It's a series I know I can give my readers at the library and they will excitedly devour it. I can give it to my avid readers and my kids who think they don't like reading. There really is something for everyone in Zita. And that's why I love her.