Polyphonist’s #CBR5 Review #45: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Legends-of-Zita-the-SpacegirlI came across this graphic novel while just perusing the new graphic novel selections at my local library. The art style and colors were fun, and I’m a fan of any books that feature a plucky, strong, female heroine. Judging by the cover, with Zita in a black and white space costume with a big “Z” emblazoned on the front and a green patchwork cloak, and surrounded by various adorable and evil creatures, I’d say this book was right up my alley. The only thing I wished I’d known going in was that it was technically the second in a (so far) three part series about Zita. But while the book did make mention of Zita’s previous adventures, I don’t think reading the first book was necessary because this one stands pretty well on its own.

The story is basically about an Earth girl named Zita who somehow (I guess that was probably covered in book one) became a super hero spacegirl for saving a planet called Scriptorius. On a triumphant space tour, a sad, broken little clonebot called an Imprint-o-tron, does some doppleganger robot magic to look like Zita. The Real Zita welcomes this so she can sneak off and be normal for a little bit. So while she sends FakeZita to take her place at a meet n greet, RealZita mysteriously gets tickets to the circus which she attends with her giant mouse friend named Mouse. There she sees the awesomeness that is Lady Madrigal. However, nearby, the imprint-o-tronZita is beginning to get her own ideas and wants to stay Zita, so she manages to boot the RealZita from her ship as it leaves the current planet and take her place on the tour. RealZita, a reluctant heroine, knows that she has to get back to her ship if she has any hope of getting home eventually.

Add to this that these stick figure Cousin It creatures have asked FakeZita to save their planet, and that RealZita’s guardian Piper and some of her travelling companions can kind of tell they’re not dealing with the right Zita, and that the space government is after RealZita because she stole a ship to go after her real ship and you’ve got one helluva madcap space adventure!

I love the way it’s drawn, the assorted fantastical robot and space creatures, but my favorites are Zita, Madrigal, and Piper. I very much want to read more about this whole crew. In the end, FakeZita sacrifices herself to help the stick figure Cousin It clan’s planet by defending it from being attacked by these…evil hearts? Yeah, that happened. And it was adorable.

Polyphonist’s #CBR5 Review #22: Flight Explorer Vol. 1 edited by Kazu Kibuishi

Flight Explorer - Kazu Kibuishi
I’ll admit it. I’m in a crunch to get some numbers on my Cannonball Read list. I read a few really long books (I know….boo-hoo) and had some life happen earlier this year that really messed up my pace. However, there are some nifty graphic novels that meet or exceed the page count that are slightly faster to read than say, Kushiel’s Dart.  Take, for instance, Flight Explorer vol. 1 edited by Kazu Kibuishi.  Amazon’s description says that the book is supposed to deal with themes of flight, but there were at least two that didn’t touch on any kind of flight I could think of.  Maaaaaybe “Snow Cap, 2nd verse” by Matthew Armstrong could be considered a “flight of fancy,” but that’s stretching it.  However, it was a completely adorable story with some of the sweetest art I’ve seen recently, so I didn’t care too much that it didn’t fit with the theme.

Anyhoo, this is one of the ones that looked nifty from my local library.  It’s a collection of stories edited by Kazu Kibuishi, who also has a delightful story in the book.  The ten different authors/artists bring a diverse style and feel to the book, but most seem to have a similar cheeky sense of humor.  “Big Mouth” by Phi Craven is another that didn’t seem to fit with the theme and was one of my least favorites, both because the style is not really my thing and it also wasn’t as playful as the others.  I suppose it has a good message, though, about being kind to people who’re different and if you’re different to hang in there; you’ll eventually find people who compliment your personality and will be your friend.  Even if you do wind up accidentally eating all their ice cream.  It helps to give them your ice cream to repay them for eating theirs by mistake.

Editor Kazu Kibuishi’s story “Copper: Mushroom Crossing” was one of my favorites, with just enough wit, pluck, and suspense.  The story is simple enough.  A boy and his dog need to cross a wide mushroom field. They could either take the bridge or be daring and leap across the mushroom caps.  Guess which they chose?  Also, the mushrooms could totally be the love children of the hands from the movie Labyrinth and the Ents from Lord of the Rings.  The next best story, “Missile Mouse: The Guardian Prophecy” by Jake Parker, is the featured part of the book cover and I admit, I judged this book by the cover and am glad I did.  Appropriate and fun for kids over 9 or 10.