Writers read. It’s one of the perks of this particular calling. I get to stack an armload of books by my comfy chair and sample another author’s fare without the slight twinge of guilt because this is, after all, “work.” Included in my recent “work” was reading Barry Deutsch’s Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish as part of the #Readukkah reviews for the Association of Jewish Libraries.
Tonight, when I light the Hanukkah candles on a 1970s birch-log menorah, I will reread How Mirka Caught a Fish just for fun. This comic/graphic novel is third in the series about Mirka, who is “yet another 11-year-old time-traveling Orthodox Jewish babysitter,” according to the cover. For those of you unfamiliar with the Hereville series, click here. You’ll know in short order that Barry is a master at writing and illustrating a whopping good tale.
The story combines universal themes of adventure and sibling rivalry with the sort of Old World monsters that my grandmother told me about, the kind that I figure also frightened and fascinated her when she was little. Barry sprinkles on a bit of Yiddish (with translation) and sets the tale in the context of a contemporary American Orthodox Jewish family. This book definitely has its scary moments, and it is even better if you are already familiar with Mirka from the two previous Hereville stories. If you haven’t read them, I suggest you do. That’s another reason there are eight nights of Hanukkah. You’ll have time during #Readukkah to enjoy Barry’s unique and supremely creative blend of fact, fiction, and fantasy.
Of course, you don’t have to be Jewish to delight in the Hereville books. Honest. Publishers Weekly calls Mirka “one of the most original and comically endearing heroines to come down the pike in a long time.” Enjoy.
Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish, by Barry Deutsch. Amulet Books, 2015. For older children and adults. Available through your independent bookstores…and that other place.