The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

illus. by Ben Hatke. 240p. (Zita the Spacegirl: Vol. 3). First Second. May 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781626720589; lib. ed. $24.50. ISBN 9780606355209; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781596438767.
Gr 3–6—Hatke wraps up this delightful series by neatly tying together all three books. While each volume can be read independently and thoroughly enjoyed solo, the experience of reading the trilogy nicely frames the wider story arc. Zita, now stripped of her possessions, including her signature green cape, remains spunky and feisty. Relegated to a dungeon for her alleged crimes, she meets two unlikely cellmates: a pile of rags, and a rotting skeleton who intones "Eye-spy with my little socket." Cinematic influences are evident throughout, from the opening panoramic scenes to the Evil Dungeon Lord with powers reminiscent of the Sith. The author's wit and comic timing sparkle in this adventure. His motley collection of characters is an absolute delight, and each of their humorous exchanges are spot-on. Readers will be amused by their foibles, and by the text's humor that is gentle, and never vicious. Kids will revel in the wordplay; clever use of language abounds, especially in a discussion on the use of "hallway" vs. "corridor" and when one evildoer explains that the hand signals for quotation marks are the "Universal sign for 'you're actually supposed to kill her." Fans of the young heroine will undoubtedly cheer for this continuation of Zita's saga and eagerly hope that the final page signals further episodes. Back matter including artwork and the story's origins are a bonus.—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Following Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, the third graphic novel opens with Zita's capture and punishment for her "crimes." But never fear: Zita is brave, clever, and has a loyal following. The art is colorful, detailed, and child-friendly. Readers of all ages can relate to the themes of friendship and loyalty while enjoying the fantasy of a far-out sci-fi adventure.

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