Written and Illustrated by: Ben Hatke
For parents of independent readers, we provide a set of questions that should give you insight into what your child is reading and help you engage him/her in meaningful conversations about literature. We recommend using the questions provided here as a springboard for deeper conversation about Zita the Spacegirl and what your child takes away from the book. Enjoy!
Zita has no idea what she is getting herself into when she presses the big red button on a device that she finds in a crater. She just can't help herself, and as a result, her friend is abducted by aliens, and she has to go on an adventure to a different world to rescue him. What she finds is a strange planet inhabited by robots, monsters, and other strange creatures. She soon discovers that in three days the whole world will be destroyed by an asteroid and she must work fast to find her friend and get back home before all is lost.
Create a K-W-L Chart and have your child fill in the first two columns with information that s/he knows and wants to find out about the story. S/he can fill in the last column, "What I Learned", once s/he has finished the story.
What I Know
After reading the description on the back cover and quickly flipping through the pages, let your child think about what s/he already knows about the story. Who are the main characters, where is the story set, etc?
What I Want to Know
Include questions that your child might have about the plot, characters and setting.
Things to Consider
Ask your child how this story is different from most books. Tell your child that this is a graphic novel. Discuss what a graphic novel is and if s/he has read any other graphic novels. If so, did s/he like them? Why or why not? What does s/he think will be different about reading this story compared to a regular novel?
- Despite Joseph's pleas to leave it alone, Zita still presses the button and begins this whole journey. What do you think would have happened to Zita, Joseph, and the inhabitants of the new world if she hadn't pressed the button? Would you have pressed the button? Why or why not?
- How is this new planet different from Earth? How is it similar? Consider its currency, inhabitants, landscape, etc.
- How would you describe Piper's character? Were you surprised that he betrayed Zita? Why or why not? Why did he come back?
- What was the Scriptorian's prophecy? Was it correct? How so? How did it turn out differently than expected?
- What is an acronym? What does the acronym H.A.M.B.O stand for? Can you think of other acronyms? What do they stand for?
- What was Robot Randy's secret? Why did he keep it from Zita and the rest of the group? Have you ever kept a secret because you were afraid of what would happen? How could they have helped him if he had told them earlier?
- Do you think she gets home in the end? What do you think happens after that last page?
- How was reading this graphic novel different from reading a regular novel? What did you like about it? What didn't you like?
Above all, be sure to engage your child in a discussion about the plot line and his/her thoughts and feelings about the book. Ask what s/he likes, encourage exploration related to the book, and every now and again, offer to read parts of the book aloud, just for fun!
Extending the Story
Recreate your favorite scene from the story using regular household items. Paper clips, tin foil, paper towel rolls, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, and any other craft supplies you may have can be used to build the set, create the characters, and retell the story. You can make initial sketches like Ben Hatke did when he was creating the book. An example of a scene that you can recreate is the one that takes place on pages 89-101.