Review of The Return of Zita the Spacegirl
Written by New York Times Bestselling Author: Ben Hatke
The Return of Zita The Spacegirl is an action-packed graphic novel that features a strong and determined female protagonist. Zita, the young heroine, has been captured and taken prisoner on a foreign planet that is home to the evil Dungeon Lord and his prison guards. Restricted by many of these guards and other obstacles, Zita must plot the ultimate escape for her and her friends, all while trying to stop the Dungeon Lord’s forces of evil from taking over the galaxy!
Themes: Good vs. evil, friendship and loyalty, perseverance, determination.
Ben Hatke portrays themes of action, humor, and strong moral character in The Return of Zita the Spacegirl to create a story of fiction that closely mirrors a super hero graphic novel. As the protagonist and super heroine, Zita acts as an excellent role model who teaches readers the importance of loyalty in friendship and perseverance. She is determined to leave no one behind, from her old friend Joseph to a trapped mouse. Her determination to defeat the Dungeon Lord while saving each of his prisoners in the process is what drives forward the plot of the novel. Hatke takes his readers on a journey through the Dungeon Lord’s alternate planet that keeps you on your toes with the countless obstacles he places before Zita and her friends. With many plot twists and “close-calls,” you will find yourself desperately hoping and rooting for Zita’s success!
Readers who have not read the first two novels that preface The Return of Zita The Spacegirl do not need to worry about understanding essential elements such as storyline or character relationships. Hatke does an excellent job crafting the novel to be individually its own, while also carrying over important themes and characters that are represented throughout the series. For instance, fans of the series will see familiar friends like Pizzacato the giant mouse, the military robot One, Joseph, and more! It is recommended, however not at all necessary, to read the first two books that preface the last novel of Hatke’s trilogy.
In the Classroom
Foundational Reading and Writing Skills: Zita the Spacegirl provides excellent opportunities for readers to practice and understand basic reading and writing skills, such as prediction, inference, symbolism, description, and analysis. Create an assignment where students must identify 3 or 4 of these skills and write out instances in which they use them, or see them being used, in the novel.
Good Moral Character: The youngest stages of life are a crucial time for developing one’s character. Discuss what “character” is and what determines good character? Why is it important for someone to have good character? When and why can it be difficult? Create an assignment where kids identify one positive character trait portrayed through Zita’s character that they feel is most important to them. Consider the following character traits: kindness, determination, compassion, courage, and loyalty. Maybe allow the kids to be creative in the way they craft this assignment, for example, create a poster board, write a short paper, make power point presentation, or a short video.
Solving Problems: Hatke creates countless issues that come up throughout the novel, and Zita with truly inventive and clever ways of solving them! Discuss different techniques that are used when trying to solve a problem? Rather than using the most obvious approach to a solution, practice methods of thinking outside the box. For an assignment/project, present students with a problem and have them innovate more than one solution. Then, have them identify what they think is the best solution and why. This lesson can be applied in math and science courses as a fun way to learn about methods for problem solving.
Hatke does an excellent job creating a story that is geared towards kids, but is also entertaining for adults as well. The book is filled with suspense, laughter, and heart-felt moments that can appeal to people of all ages! The Return of Zita the Spacegirl is the perfect read for anyone who has any type of interest in superheroes and adventure!