Thank you Kidlit Exchange and Scholastic for the ARC of SHE-RA: ORIGIN OF A HERO. This chapter book is first in a series written by Tracey West and beautifully illustrated by Amanda Schank.
My jury is still out on the revival of 80s kid TV nostalgia* which is part of why I had to request this review copy to find out.
To note, 2019 She-Ra is not your mama’s 1985 She-Ra. I had to watch a couple clips on YouTube. You know, for research. There seems to be a more diverse cast, Adora is funnier and more relatable, and the worldbuilding is sunnier and more complex. All of that is reflected in this volume.
Adora has spent her life in The Horde army barracks (to me, reminiscent of Stockholm Syndrome in a mid-century Communist re-education camp… an actual contemporary child possibly may get a different vibe). Adora was a hopeless orphan until The Horde adopted her. At least, that’s what she’s been led to believe.
But when a spiralling friendly rivalry with former BFF and pseudo-sister Catra leaves Aurora in the Etherian woods pondering her recent, strange visions, she meets mysterious new Resistance soldiers Glimmer and Bow…
Adora in the book appears way more emotionally closed-off than Adora/She-Ra in the cartoons. That said, that feeling of awkward unfamiliarity with a beloved character is pretty much a given in all “backstory” tales, and a true fan seeking an origin story in the vein of an Easter egg-packed King-Arthur-meets-Moses framework will not be disappointed.
- I would have been more wowed by the ending if the artwork had been complete; a sad but rare occupational hazard of ARCs. Oh well.
- Give to someone who is into comic book heroes/heroines (even if they’re not fans of She-Ra… yet).
- Schank’s illustrations and book design add enough visual interest to hook a reulctant reader.
*My Little Pony = better show; smaller ponies make for less satisfying toys.