Hereville: How Mirka Got her Sword
by Barry Deutsch
Amulet, 2010. 141 pgs. Graphic novel.
Mirka, "yet another troll-fighting 11-year old Orthodox Jewish girl," resists learning the womanly arts pushed upon her by her long-nosed stepmother Fruma (a good woman, but stubborn), because what she really wants is to fight dragons. Engaging in dialectics with her stepmother, "who will argue about anything," she manages to avoid improving her skills by claiming that her dropped stitches were ordained of God and not to be messed with. After a series of supernatural experiences give her the opportunity to claim a dragon-slaying sword from a troll by besting him in a challenge, she is horrified to learn that the challenge is: who can knit the best sweater? Mirka's sweater is an unholy mess, while the troll's is not only immaculately well-made, with ribbing at neck and wrists, but shows a lovely floral pattern as well. Unluckily for Mirka, losing the contest means the troll gets to eat her, but . . . fear of ruining the story means saying no more, but be assured that Mirka's arguing abilities serve her well and that the sword(s) she wields at the end of the story are very different from the one she desired at the beginning. A delightful yarn (you'll excuse the expression) sprinkled liberally with Yiddish expressions, Jewish folk and religious lore, and memorable, nuanced characters, well-drawn and well-spoken.