First Second, 2010. 978-1-59643-695-4
Synopsis: When Zita and her friend Joseph find a mysterious meteorite with a button device inside, Zita decides to press the button and see what it does. The device opens a mysterious portal and sucks Joseph in, leaving Zita momentarily alone and scared. But when she pushes the button again with the intention of bringing Joseph home, she never dreams that she will be transported through space to another planet. There, she meets monsters, a magician, robots, and maybe even some new friends in her quest to save Joseph from aliens.
Why I picked it up: It has popped up as a recommendation several times while doing research on what book to read next and the story caught my interest. It’s also a popular selection at my local library.
Why I finished it: This book is so cute and I loved the characters! The plot had just the right amount of action and drama that made me keep reading to find out what happened. I am also a huge fan of strong female characters, and Zita, despite her initial fear at being transported through space to a planet full of aliens and robots, turns into a determined heroine as the story unfolds. The book is imaginative and Hatke instantly drew me in with the bright colors and quirky characters. It’s tempting with stories like these to reinvent the wheel when it comes to aliens and robots, but Hatke has created his own canon that draws on the traditional images as models and made them his own. Hatke’s art is similar in style to Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet), but uses a thicker brush for outlining that makes each character and the scenery stand out from the background color palate. I can’t wait to pick up the next one and see what new adventures Zita will have!
Other related materials: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeline L’Engle, illustrated by Hope Larson; Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre; Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell; Benjamin Franklinstein Lives! by Larry David Tuxbury, illustrated by Matthew McElligott; Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith, illustrated by Christian Slade; Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Hildafollk by Luke Pearson; The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis; Cardboard by Doug Tennapel; Explorer: The Mystery Boxes by Kazu Kibuishi; Ghostopolis by Doug Tennapel; Knights of the Lunch Table series by Frank Cammuso; Lunch Lady books by Jarrett K. Krosoczka; Drama by Raina Telgemeier; Smile by Raina Telgemeier