Publication Date: November 2010
I love this book! Love love love! I love it so much that I checked it out of the library on Thursday, read it Thursday night, reread it Friday morning, and then bought it right afterwards. Enough gushing for now. I should at least tell you what this great book is about.
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Mirka Hirschberg is a spunky eleven-year-old who dreams of fighting dragons. The problem though is her family has other plans for her. As Orthodox Jews her slightly older sister Gittel wants her to start thinking about marriage, her stepmother Fruma wants her to become a better knitter while her younger brother Zindel thinks fighting dragons is for grown men. Mirka will not be deterred. She has no idea how she’s going to find or fight a dragon until she happens to find a witch’s home deep in the local woods of her town. When she steals a grape from the garden of the witch’s pig, that’s when the real adventure starts.
I don’t think there can ever be enough strong female characters in literature and Mirka is a great addition. She’s a girl who’s true to herself while understanding the obligations she has in her family and community. The town she lives in, Hereville, is populated mostly by Hasidic Jews and Deutsch doesn’t shy away from showing us how religion and culture are intertwine in Mirka’s life. Readers don’t need to have any knowledge of Judaism to read this book.
For young readers who enjoy fantasy, Hereville is a book to add to their permanent collections. The witch in the story is unnamed and believable. She’s not a villain but a recluse who lives on the outskirts on the tiny town. I have so many questions about the witch, her background, and how does she know Fruma which is revealed in the story. The witch’s pig is another character I would love to know more about. It talks, grows a vegetable garden, and swears revenge on all who angers it.
I could keep going on and on about this story but that’s enough blabbering from me. Just go out and buy the book. You won’t regret it.