This is one I’d been meaning to read for a while, and only put an actual hold on it when I flipped through the newly published sequel on our backroom new book shelf.
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.
When we meet Zita, she’s running through the woods being chased by her friend Joseph, whose notebook she’s stolen. Then something falls from the sky and crashes. She climbs into the small crater it left – it’s a large silver disc with a big red button. The timid Joseph urges her to leave it alone, but Zita is not the cautious type. She pushes the red button, which opens up a portal to a different planet. The terrified Joseph is sucked in immediately, and after some hesitation, Zita jumps in afterwards to rescue him. She finds herself in a crowded alien marketplace, with no sign of her friend. She is bright and friendly, so though this is clearly not a safe place for unattended children, she befriends a large porter, a giant mechanical mouse, and a somewhat shifty minstrel named Piper. It turns out that the planet they are on is going to be destroyed by a large asteroid in the near future. Everyone who can get out, is, while the aliens who own the planet believe that Joseph is the child of prophecy who is key to stopping the destruction. Even as Piper tells her that the castle where Joseph is being held is too far and the aliens too fierce for one girl to possibly make a difference, Zita sets out. Can she save both Joseph and the planet??? While Zita’s got courage in spades, it’s her kindness and friendliness that will win the day in the end. While you already know there are sequels (one just out, one due next fall), the story arc wraps up nicely in this book, even as it leaves room for Zita to still be the Spacegirl. Hatke both writes and illustrates this full color graphic novel. Zita and her friends are simply adorable, while the alien planet is populated by a wide array of aliens and robots that range from also adorable to adorably creepy. There are some short Zita webcomics up at for you to get a feel for it. This is the kind of wonderful all-ages story that’s perfect for both boys and girls, with action and character enough to satisfy a broad range of ages. Try Giants Beware for another scrappy girl hero and her friends in a fast-paced graphic novel adventure, or Korgi for slightly sweeter adventurous fare. I’m expecting Zita to end up on our permanent book shelf.