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The Zita the Spacegirl Trilogy, by Ben Hatke

Review copies provided by First Second Books.

First Second was really smart here. The most recent of the Zita books, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl, just came out, so instead of sending me just that one, they also sent me Zita the Spacegirl and Legends of Zita the Spacegirl so I could read the whole thing. Which I could do in a total of less than an hour, because they’re graphic novels for kids, or more to the point for all/most ages. I would say that the main restraint on the Zita books will not be age but temperament. There are going to be a few people who find their cartoon levels of threat frightening or bothersome, but that’s probably going to be as true at age 2 as at age 82.

Zita is extremely charming. She has adventures, she is extremely stubborn, and she makes a very wide variety of friends, including robots and a giant mouse and aliens of all sorts. (I am very much attached to Strong-Strong in particular.) Zita and her friend Joseph are thrown into their adventures, but she is very active and very much attached to virtues like justice, loyalty, friendship, and stubbornness, without being too didactic about them. She has a cool costume and all sorts of aspects one could easily attach to as “favorite,” and while the first story is pretty straightforward and sweet, the second and third ramify from there and have consequences that are not quite so obvious.

It’s rare that I can recommend something without regard to age, but I really can here. The question is whether you like mild, sweet, cartoony space adventure comic books. If you do, Zita will probably make you smile.

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