I couldn’t be happier to be a stop on the “My Favorite Thing About Zita the Spacegirl” Blog Tour in celebration of the release of the third book in Ben Hatke’s amazing Zita the Spacegirl trilogy. Olive and I have formed a very special relationship with this particular heroine.
For the uninitiated, the story begins when Zita, a seemingly ordinary girl, swipes the notebook of her friend Joseph. During their chase, the discover a crater made by what they presume to be a meteoroid. When Zita finds a device at the bottom of the crater, she presses its giant red button despite Joseph’s protests. A portal opens, long tentacles appear, and Joseph is sucked into another dimension. Zita, devastated by causing it, has no choice but to bravely follow. And so the trilogy begins, taking Zita to a world of monsters and robots and planets that all seem to be doomed in one way or another. Without their impending doom, though, we wouldn’t have need for Zita to step up and save the world. Save several worlds, that it.
I think why we connect so strongly to Zita is that she arrives on the page a fully-formed human being. She’s complicated and brave and makes mistakes and is fiercely loyal. It’s wonderful that she starts out acting kind of jerky because it gives her a place from which to summon power — the guilt over her actions and the desire to make things right. Despite her cape, she’s not a superhero, and as such she doesn’t fall into usual superhero tropes. She’s a child and behaves like one. She has a certain fearlessness and stubbornness and we se her make mistakes as she tries to find her path to do the right thing. She’s also just trying to survive across a variety of worlds that all seem hellbent on destruction. What’s unmistakable, though, is how good she is. She’s a good person, and every creature who crosses her path believably becomes loyal to her.
Zita has some amazing adventures. She battles bad guys, deals with a doppleganger, and survives a heard attack of the weirdest kind. When we find her at the beginning of book 3, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl, Zita has been captured by the Doom Squad for crimes she committed in book 2, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl. She was totally going to give that ship back, and the rest of the charges have been trumped up just to have her as a prisoner to work the mines. Like the other books, Zita does much saving of others, and when she needs it most, she receives a little saving of her own by the crowd of friends she has amassed over the trilogy.
I can’t imagine a kid not liking these books. They’re perfect for kids around age 7 and up. Olive has certainly fallen for Zita. I’ve shared this story before, but the only time Olive has cosplayed at New York Comic Con, she dressed up as Zita the Spacegirl. We had a blast making her costume together, and the final result was awesome. Look at her!
But the best part of the story was going to Ben Hatke’s autograph line. The look on his face when he saw Olive… I wish I could bottle that expression. When we got to the front of the line we learned that this was his first sighting of a Zita cosplayer (though as the Interwebs have told me, she’s certainly not the last.)
Afterwards, Ben Hatke drew this comic about meeting Olive at Comic Con. I printed it and now it hangs above my desk. It makes me smile every time I look at it.
Couple all that with the sketches and stories that Ben Hatke fills the ends of the books with — stories about how his wife came up with the character and he developed Zita to woo her, and sketches showing the evolution of the characters — and you have my favorite thing about Zita the Spacegirl. She is my trusted source to recharge my creative batteries. I draw creativity from her the way a Dungeon Lord draws power from a Leviathan. (Heh, heh. You’re going to thing that’s hilarious when you read the third book.)
I highly recommend buying this gorgeous, perfect trilogy and sharing it with your kids. I’m sad that this is the end of the trilogy, but see a ray of sunshine with this note at the end: “And what does the future hold for Zita? Only time will tell…”
Movie, please. Or a TV show. Or a hundred more books. I’m really not choosy. Just, more Zita!
For now, you can get more Zita by following the rest of the blog tour. (More great Zita cosplay at the link!)