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The Return of Zita the Spacegirl



Final Zita graphic novel with more peril, great role model.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Younger kids will be introduced to the sci-fi fantasy genre, with plenty of interesting monsters and space/time travel elements to pique interest.

Positive messages

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.


Some name-calling, such as "sissy," "oaf," and "lummox."

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.

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What's the story?

THE RETURN OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL begins with the young heroine on trial in Dungeon World for her supposed crimes of saving several planets in Zita the Spacegirl and Legends of Zita the Spacegirl. After she's imprisoned by the evil judge and ruler of the planet, she escapes with the help of a masked accomplice. During her time in her prison cell and as she tries to get off the planet, she discovers a world of exploited creatures, including the giant Leviathan who's being used to power the planet. Some familiar friends, including Mouse, Strong Strong, and One, all make appearances, and Madrigal and Piper are key to Zita's eventual escape.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the character of Zita. What makes her special? How is she similar to and different from other sci-fi characters or comic heroes?

  • How do the images contribute to the story? Would the story have a different tone if the words were the same but the pictures different?

  • Who are your favorite sci-fi or fantasy heroes?

Book details

Author:Ben Hatke
Illustrator:Ben Hatke
Topics:Superheroes, Adventures, Great girl role models, Space and aliens
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:First Second
Publication date:May 13, 2014
Number of pages:240
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Paperback, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byCrimefighterpunch49 June 15, 2016

Good series for kids, or anyone really.

This was my favorite book in the trilogy, but all three were very good. Zita is an unusual girl character, who is very innocent and pure hearted--yet still imperfect. The intended audience may be children, but these books are thought provoking and well written. Beautiful messages of sacrifice and friendship and interesting themes that relate to real life.
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