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.
As in the previous books in the Zita series, 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 a wonderful role model because she mixes bravery and curiosity with an incredibly strong sense of justice and empathy. Joseph makes some choices that seem to betray Zita, but he has positive intentions.
Violence & Scariness
Characters are in peril throughout the book, but this one features slightly more dangerous scenarios, including an unconscious Zita being brought to an execution block by guards carrying weapons. Also, favorite character Mouse is imprisoned and injected with sedatives. As in previous books, everyone is in danger when the world is going to explode, and Earth is the target of the villain's destructive wrath.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Madrigal surprises Piper with a single, enthusiastic kiss.
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Some name-calling, such as "sissy," "oaf," and "lummox."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Return of Zita the Spacegirl is the third (and last) in the series of graphic novels starring a brave, curious, and kind young heroine. Expect plenty of sci-fi peril throughout, with a few scenes that could be scarier than those in the previous books, including a thwarted execution and the sedation (with needles) of the beloved Mouse character. A key character seems to turn on Zita at one point, which might be upsetting to sensitive kids, but all works out well in the end. There's also one giant kiss between Madrigal and Piper.
Is It Any Good?
Both girls and boys will delight in this surreal story. The Return of Zita the Spacegirl introduces more fantastical creatures, including Raggy (a pile of animate rags) and Femer (a skeleton), and brings back readers' favorites to enliven the complex, weird, and wonderful world of Zita's space adventures. This final book in the Zita trilogy focuses primarily on a conflict between Zita and Joseph, which feels a little more sad than her previous conflicts, where the enemy was more clear-cut. But the story highlights the incredible empathy Zita possesses, as well as the loyalty she builds through her commitment to helping others.
The ending seems to tease of more adventures, which might be a little difficult to explain to kids hoping for a fourth book. Alas, kids will need to continue Zita's adventures in their imaginations, or use author and illustrator Ben Hatke's sketches of early Zita stories in the back of the book as inspiration to create their own comic adventures.
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.