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Zita the Spacegirl



Brave girl seeks missing friend in exciting graphic novel.

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

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.


Some creative name calling and insults: "oaf," "ugly brute," "urchin," "half wit," "pea brain."

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.

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

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
Number of pages:183
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Paperback, Hardback

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Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written byLC70 November 30, 2012

Zita is Awesome!

This is a really good book. My brother and I have read it many times. It's very exciting, but there's nothing too scary in it. Some of the aliens are weird looking. But it's really fun and most kids will like it, boys and girls.