Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (NONE)

by Barry Deutsch

Book, 2012



Call number

J 185 DEU



Amulet Paperbacks (2012), Edition: Illustrated, 144 pages


Eleven-year-old Mirka Herschberg dreams of fighting dragons and spends her days honing her skills, even though there are no dragons in her Orthodox Jewish community, but when she accepts a challenge from a mysterious witch, Mirka just might win her dragon-fighting sword after all.

User reviews

LibraryThing member PlasticAtoms
Mirka is an adventurous girl growing up in an insular Orthodox Jewish community. In encounters with a witch, a troll, and a talking pig, she combines quick thinking and determination with lessons learned from her family in order to come out on top. It's bit like (a much more child-friendly) Pan's
Show More
Labyrinth. Especially of note is the setting, a deeply religious community with little contact with the outside world, to the point where it's not even clear what country or time period it's taking place in. The author paints an engaging and three-dimensional portrait of the town of Hereville, lovingly depicting a rich culture without sugar-coating the fact that it's also pretty repressive in a number of ways--Mirka has to smuggle in books that aren't on the narrow list of approved reading, among other things, and I must admit my reaction to a lot of it was, "wow, I would not have survived if I'd been born here". I'd recommend this book to kids who are interested in learning about different cultures, fans of books that blend magic and realism, and anyone who just likes to argue for the sake of argument or look at thinks from different angle (depicted here as a useful skill and a part of mental flexibility -- in the climax, Mirka seemingly fails a knitting challenge against a troll, but successfully outwits him by challenging his assumptions about what makes a sweater "better".)
Show Less
LibraryThing member bookmolady
First graphic novel for me. Mirka chafes against the roles imposed on her as a girl in a totally fictional orthodox village. She wants to fight dragons, to be a real heroine. Despite being told that she cannot because she is a girl, Mirka is determined. Her first major battle is with a talking pig,
Show More
a pig she has enraged to the point where it tells her, "I will never forgive you. I will rip the chupa at your wedding! I will take your firstborn child! I will knock over the casket at your funeral!" Mirka eventually triumphs and wins a sword in a surprising contest of skills she didn't know would be helpful in her quest to become a true hero. I hope there are more books to follow.
Show Less
LibraryThing member MicahCorporaal
Hereville jumped out at me particularly because on the cover of the graphic novel, one reads "Yet another Troll-Fighting 11-year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl". Library collections can always use more female heroes, especially heroes representing different cultures. Being married to a Jewish woman, I
Show More
have come to learn that much of my community is inexperienced with Jewish culture, primarily because it is a minority among many. This is a superb read for girls and boys who are ready to experience an atypical story while getting a sneak peak of the orthodox jewish life from a young gir's perpspective. This is surely one of my favorite reads of the year!
Show Less
LibraryThing member LibrarianMaven
This is, in my estimation, nearly as perfect a youth graphic novel as you can get. Mirka is an inspiring heroine, and I loved the warm portrayal of Orthodox Judaism and family, even as Mirka engages in untraditional girl behaviors like swordfighting trolls.
LibraryThing member -Eva-
A beautifully made graphic novel about Mirka, an Orthodox Jewish girl, which introduces the reader to a well-functioning community without any comment on the "whys" but rather the "hows" of daily life in such a community. It is at its core a story about a little girl gaining her independence
Show More
without breaking away, but with some fantasy and mythological elements to it. I have a tiny issue with the skill needed for Mirka to succeed in her task, but it's minor and is absolutely overshadowed by the drawing style, the lovely story telling, and the characters. It's definitely a story for younger readers, but is very readable for people of any age.
Show Less
LibraryThing member francescadefreitas
I loved the art and I loved the story. Mirka battles a troll in a most unexpected way to earn her sword.
LibraryThing member NicolLH
An interesting introduction to some of the aspects of the Orthodox Jewish culture in a graphic novel format for kids, however the plot is rather thin and seems to exist mostly as a means of introducing these elements.
LibraryThing member raizel
I wanted to like this book: it has a spunky heroine, who happens to be Orthodox, fantasy, lots of pictures---it's a graphic novel, afterall, and seems to provide a very good picture of what it is like to live in an Orthodox community, BUT there is a glaring error about the Jewish Sabbath starting
Show More
when there are three stars in the sky! This is such a basic mistake, that it makes me wonder how accurate all the other details of everyday life are. Perhaps this was the result of a "helpful" editor "fixing" the text. (Admittedly, everything else sounded realistic to me.)
There also seems to be a missing backstory that would explain how Mirka's stepmother knows so much about monsters from non-Jewish folklore. I suspect that there are feminist undertones to the book. Mirka doesn't want to learn feminine tasks such as knitting, although this turns out to be an invaluable skill, but she also comes to realize that her stepmother's abilities include more than traditional womanly arts.
Show Less
LibraryThing member LibraryGirl11
Not my favorite kids' graphic novel, but lots of interesting references to orthodox Jewish culture.
LibraryThing member TriciaDM
Mirka is unlike other Orthodox Jewish girls her age. She is not interested in knitting and other traditional duties, she wants to fight dragons. Can she find her sword without ruining her family and community's reputation in the process?
LibraryThing member EmmaleaCarter
I enjoyed this book, it was a little difficult for me to read because of the way the story was set up but it was interesting nonetheless. I would recommend this book to a student or person who has a hard time reading as the plotline was captivating and moved from frame to frame quickly, so it would
Show More
be ideal for students with ADD or ADHD who have a difficult time concentrating.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Marared9
Loved this book. The subtitle alone sold me: "yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl." That was enough to get me to order the book and sit down to read it as soon as it arrived. The author does a wonderful job of setting the story in an Orthodox Jewish town with all the
Show More
religious implications and cultural references that are unfamiliar to people outside the culture, while still letting the story tell itself without degenerating into a diatribe or morality tale.

After reading the first 10 pages or so, I thought, "my daughter would love this book, but she's bound to get lost in all the culture-specific vocabulary". It was then that I noticed the asterisked footnotes "translating" the unfamiliar words and ideas for those who aren't familiar with the context. This makes the book accessible without burying it in explanations.

The story is told in the form of a graphic novel and relates the adventures of Mirka, who really just wants to fight a dragon, but first needs to take on a protective brother, an intelligent pig, and a troll. Hilarious story with hilarious illustrations. I was very pleased with the graphic novel format here, as it added to rather than detracted from the story. Sometimes graphic novels for kids are an attempt to dumb down the content or they are so poorly executed they make your teeth hurt. In this case the format really compliments the story and adds important nuances that convey personality and subtle details of the story.

Great idea, great execution. My daughter and her friends are in for a treat.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ghelmus
Being my first graphic novel, I was unsure of what to expect. But I couldn't put this book down. The creativity of illustrations made it aesthetically pleasing, while the dialogue was easy to follow and kept the story moving. Seeing as it was a book based around the Orthodox Jewish religion, I also
Show More
think it was a helpful touch to add Jewish words with their meanings at the bottom of the page. I would not have expected to learn about another religion while reading about a girl meeting witches and fighting trolls. It's a quick read, but a worthwhile one. It was clear what text was being spoken and what was setting/character information. Each character was thought out and redeemed in the end. I could see this book being enjoyed by children of any age.
Show Less
LibraryThing member akmargie
Good art and a solid fantasy story with a strong female lead.
LibraryThing member Sullywriter
Odd, original, and quite entertaining.
LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
Graphic novel about an Orthodox Jewish girl who wants to be a dragon slayer. A perfect blend of adventure, humor, and cultural education. Highly recommended!
LibraryThing member Sara.rivera
Summary: Mirka is an 11 year old orthodox Jewish girl who lives in the Jewish community of Hereville. Mirka dreams of being a brave dragon fighter, though her step mother dreams of her learning to knit, getting an education, and setting a good example for her many siblings. Mirka encounters a woman
Show More
she believes to be witch in the forest, and brings her friends and siblings to see. When Mirka steals a giant grape from the woman's yard, a giant monster attacks her. The monster turns out to be a large pig, which as a Jew, Mirka has never had contact with. Mirka makes a deal with the pig to stop harassing her, and the witch returns to make an offer to her. Mirka can have a great sword if she can defeat a troll, and the witch says that Mirka's step mother has the knowledge she will need to do so. Mirka barely defeats the troll and escapes with her life.

Personal Reaction: I did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. It lacked the humor I expected from it's tag line, "Yet another Troll-Fighting 11 year old orthodox Jewish girl". The illustrations were black, white and gray on deep burgundy pages, brighter colors may have drawn more attention to the scenes around the girl. I did like that the Yiddish terminology that was used by the characters was translated at the bottom of the pages.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. A series of critical thinking puzzles and problems that would demonstrate to students how to solve a problem without force.
2. Bring in some silly looking sweaters to compare to the ones Mirka and the troll knitted.
3. Explore Jewish traditions mentioned in the book during a multicultural themed week.
Show Less
LibraryThing member lawral
Deutsch's illustrations and text compliment each other beautifully, speeding things up in suspenseful moments and slowing things down when Mirka is doing the same. Part of this may be due to the subdued colors (most of the book is in shades of tan, with nighttime scenes in blues and purples) which
Show More
allow the text and images to blend well together. But I think the real reason I was able to get into this in a way that rarely happens for me with graphic novels is that it's based on a comic, and you can tell. Deutsch makes the text part of the picture. It's not all POWs like in a superhero comic, but it's all still integrated, making it very easy to read.

Mirka lives with her father, step-mother, brother and 7(!) sisters in Hereville, an insular Orthodox Jewish community. Throughout the book there are some things about Orthodox life that are explained to the reader, such as the importance of the Shabbos and the differences between rebel, pious, and popular Orthodox girls. Yiddish words used in the text are also defined in footnotes on each applicable page. Still, for the most part, Deutsch forgoes the explanations of or about the Orthodox faith or lifestyle and instead shows them in action through Mirka. For example, she never hits the older boys who are bullying her brother with her hands, but with sticks and rocks (it's warranted and not violent). Later one warns her that the rules forbidding unmarried people of the opposite sex to touch each other will not save her from retribution (p68).

But rather than being a book all about an Orthodox Jewish girl, Hereville is primarily a book about a young girl who wants to slay dragons and meets a witch. Mirka's encounters with the witch (and her pig and the troll) are satisfyingly creepy without being too scary, and Mirka's over the top bravery and rash judgment fail her a couple of times. She has fights with her siblings, she sticks up for her little brother, she bonds with her step-mother. Mirka is just a normal girl with some adventurous dreams and aspirations.

Book source: This was a wonderful Christmas present!
Show Less
LibraryThing member lilibrarian
Mirka wants to fight monsters, an activity not encouraged by her orthodox Jewish family. After meeting a witch in the woods, Mirka defeats some bullies, overwhelms a monstrous talking pig and gains a sword from a troll while learning that the womanly arts her stepmother stresses may not be useless
Show More
after all.
Show Less
LibraryThing member MaowangVater
One day on her way to school Mirka Hirschberg discovers a house that she’s never seen before in her town of Hereville and in the yard of this house is a woman pruning a tree while floating ten feet off the ground. Mirka plucks one of the enormous grapes hanging on the fence of the house, and
Show More
she’s set upon by a monster. The monster turns out to be a pig, but since Hereville is town inhabited only by Orthodox Jews, Mirka has never seen one, and doesn’t know what to call it until enlightened by her more worldly step-sister. Since Mirka’s ambition in life is to be a dragon slayer, she vows that she’s not going to be defeated by a pig. But when she sets a trap for the pig, she ends up having to battle a troll!
Show Less
LibraryThing member GirlsonFire
This is the first book of a unique graphic novel series. The story revolves around an 11-year-old Jewish girl named Mirka and her desire for adventure. In this novel, she must outwit a troll in order to obtain a magic sword. The graphic novel is infused with Yiddish dialect and Jewish tradition,
Show More
which gives the book an educational but still adventurous slant and the orange, black, and white color combination makes it a pleasing story visually.

Readalikes: Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.
Show Less
LibraryThing member foggidawn
Mirka, an 11-year-old resident of the Orthodox Jewish community of Hereville, dreams of fighting monsters and slaying dragons. An encounter with a strange woman in a mysterious house in the woods (and a confrontation with a talking pig) leads to Mirka's first battle. If she can outwit a troll, she
Show More
can earn her sword. But what if the battle involves Mirka's greatest weakness?

I've been wanting to read this graphic novel ever since it was released, lo these many years ago. I finally got around to it, and it was lots of fun! Mirka's a great character, and I like her stepmother Fruma as well. Recommended to those who enjoy juvenile graphic novels.
Show Less
LibraryThing member alovett
Deutsch, Barry. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword. 2010. $15.95. Amulet. 98-0-8109-8422-6. Ages 10-14.
Mirka is an orthodox Jew, along with all the other residents of Hereville. But rather than knitting and planning ahead for the matchmaking process, Mirka is determined to fight dragons. Then Mirka
Show More
meets a witch in the forest, and after eating some of her grapes Mirka finds herself being terrorized by a pig, which none of her friends or teachers can fathom. After defeating the pig, the witch tells Mirka where she can get a good sword for dragon fighting - if she can outwit the ogre who owns it in a knitting battle. This graphic novel features pen and Ink illustrations in monochromatic shades of orange, sepia, and blue. A mixture of classic panel design with some full spreads and illustrations that break their boundaries, much like their main character defies the boundaries of her society. Full of Deutsch’s tongue-in-cheek humor, this unexpected and clever story is also instructive: Yiddish words are incorporated and explained in footnotes, as are other practices like the Shabbas dinner. Highly recommended. Ages 10-14.
Show Less
LibraryThing member pussreboots
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch is a graphic novel that features another strong female lead in the role of the unlikely but willing hero. Of all the recent books, I've read, Mirka reminds me most of September from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own
Show More

Mirka lives in an Orthodox Jewish community. She wants to learn sword fighting but is stuck learning knitting instead. Just like September and her mother's wrench, she learns how to wield the weaponry she is given. Here, the threat is a troll and the battle takes place in the nearby forest, rather than far away fairyland. The need for wits and unusual weaponry, though, is the same.

The artwork is done in a sepia scheme with strong lines. Stylistically it's somewhere between Hope Larson and Marjane Satrapi.

The one distraction, for me, were all the asides explaining either Jewish culture or the Yiddish and Hebrew words being used by the characters. A simple glossary or appendix for those who need it would have sufficed.
Show Less
LibraryThing member etborg
The tagline of this book pretty much says it all. Mirka is always fighting with her step-mother and would rather be welding swords and fighting dragons than sitting at home knitting. This first book (yes, there are more!) tells the story of how our heroine wins her sword from a witch, fights a
Show More
troll, and maybe even learns a little something about herself on the way.

Once upon a time I was a section head for the children's graphic novel section at Powell's Books in Portland, OR. I didn't really read comics beyond the old Archie comics my mom had in a cardboard box in the garage, but by the time Hereville was published I'd already picked it as my staff pick and made plans to drag two unsuspecting friends along to a reading Barry Deutsch was giving in Portland. I'm not Jewish, so I can't speak to the authenticity of the Orthodox community portrayed, but I have heard it is very good, and it is a wonderful way to introduce readers to a religious doctrine they might not be as familiar with. Regardless of the religious setting, this is a wonderful book for all girls (and boys!) who ever felt like they are maybe meant for something bigger and have ever wished they could ditch their chores and go fight a dragon. Also their is a pretty unconventional battle with a troll.
Show Less


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

144 p.; 9 inches


Page: 0.2808 seconds