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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Younger kids will be introduced to the sci-fi fantasy genre, with plenty of interesting monsters and space/time travel elements to pique interest.
Themes of loyalty, friendship, teamwork, self-sacrifice, and the idea that even the small, weak, or unusual can be useful and brave run throughout.
Positive Role Models
Zita is curious (if a bit impetuous at first), brave, and loyal to her friends. She picks up misfit friends along her journey and is accepting of all kinds of creatures. She sacrifices her own safety for the benefit of many unknown lives.
Violence & Scariness
Zita's friend is kidnapped, and the story follows her quest to find him. She travels through unknown places and meets some scary creatures -- some with creepy tentacles or spider-like arms. She's frequently in danger and her monster and robot friends are sometimes injured or fight (with bombs and metal teeth). She is captured and jailed. At one point a trusted adult betrays her. A planet is in the path of an asteroid and people think it will be destroyed.
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Some creative name calling and insults: "oaf," "ugly brute," "urchin," "half wit," "pea brain."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Zita the Spacegirl is an exciting graphic novel with a brave young girl at the center of the story. Her example of bravery, loyalty, and acceptance of others despite differences will resonate with kids. There's plenty of sci-fi action and peril -- including a mysterious kidnapping, some robot fights, and potentially creepy monster aliens -- but kids will get the sense that things will turn out well, thanks to an optimistic heroine. One comic creature is a bit of a bully and insults others with names like "oaf" and "pea brain," but he gets his in the end.
Is It Any Good?
Elements of The Wizard of Oz and the Pied Piper story wrapped up in a wonderfully monster-populated alien world make for a captivating and suspense-filled science fiction journey for young readers. Girls especially will enjoy the normal-girl-turned-hero story that nicely ties bravery and warmheartedness together.
Author-illustrator Ben Hatke's characters are a mix of realistic and fantastical, which makes Zita lots of fun to look at. Pre-reading kids can probably follow the story thanks to the clean but detailed panels, but it will be lots of fun to read aloud, too. And the darker elements, which might turn younger kids off, are still whimsical enough (thanks to lots of cute aliens and robots) to lighten the mood for most kids.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.