A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Young Zita and her friend Joseph stumble upon a red button in an asteroid crater, and when Zita pushes the button, Joseph is swept away in a big flash of light by creepy tentacles. After following Joseph into the unknown, Zita arrives on a strange planet full of aliens and robots, all who are concerned about the impending asteroid strike to their planet. As she searches the planet for her friend, she meets several friendly misfits, like the helpful but not-too-bright Strong Strong, a giant mouse that she rides on, and a resentful robot named One. She also finds a fellow human space traveler named Piper, who may or may not help her find her friend and get back home.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about heroes. What kinds of heroes are your favorites? What do heroes usually look and act like? What kind of hero is Zita?
What makes a good graphic novel? What's the difference between a comic and a graphic novel? If you wrote a graphic novel, what would it be about?
Does this story remind you of any others from books or movies? When is it OK to take parts of another story and make it your own? What is that not OK?
- Author: Ben Hatke
- Illustrator: Ben Hatke
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: First Second
- Publication date: February 1, 2011
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 183
- Available on: Paperback, Hardback
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.