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Mighty Jack
     

Mighty Jack

by Ben Hatke
 

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Jack might be the only kid in the world who's dreading summer. But he's got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It's a lot of responsibility, and it's boring, too, because Maddy doesn't talk. Ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk—to tell Jack

Overview

Jack might be the only kid in the world who's dreading summer. But he's got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It's a lot of responsibility, and it's boring, too, because Maddy doesn't talk. Ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk—to tell Jack to trade their mom's car for a box of mysterious seeds. It's the best mistake Jack has ever made.

In Mighty Jack, what starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok, huge, pink pumpkins that bite, and, on one moonlit night that changes everything…a dragon.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
07/18/2016
In Hatke’s reworking of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” Jack must care for his younger sister, Maddy, while his single mother holds down two jobs over the summer. Maddy doesn’t speak, but she’s entranced by the magic seeds she and Jack pick up from a shady dealer at a flea market, in exchange for their mother’s car keys. Once they plant them, their home-schooled, sword-wielding neighbor Lilly is curious about their new garden, too—a little too curious. Hatke (Little Robot) revels in drawing the fantasy plants: green hands that reach out and grab, tiny onion-headed creatures, melons with teeth. Jack and Lilly argue about how to handle them: “These plants are dangerous!” he protests. “Open your eyes, Jack,” Lilly retorts. “Just because something’s dangerous doesn’t make it evil.” There’s action and menace aplenty, including a dragon whose ferocity only Maddy can quell, and flashes of intimacy, too, as when Jack’s mother’s anger melts into compassion as she sees her son in tears, or when Maddy suddenly speaks. Jack’s desperate efforts to juggle the needs of three complex female characters drive this sensitive retelling. The cliffhanger ending promises a sequel. Ages 10–14. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

Included in School Library Journal's "Best of 2016" list.

Ben Hatke has a knack for writing stories that focus on smart, young characters who become caught up with robots, mythical creatures, and alien invasions. Mighty Jack is no exception." —Entertainment Weekly

"This first in a series flourishes up to its nail-biting cliffhanger: expect interest for the subsequent offering to positively bloom. Very mighty indeed."—Kirkus, starred review

"With expert visual storytelling, an empowering team of kid adventurers, and a tantalizing cliff-hanger, this series starter will easily please Hatke’s legion of followers."—Booklist

School Library Journal
09/01/2016
Gr 4–7—Hatke, the author of Julia's House for Lost Creatures and the popular "Zita the Spacegirl" series, returns to the land of heroes with a modern-day reimagining of "Jack and the Beanstalk." Jack is the oldest child of a divorced single mom doing her best to keep the family fed. On a trip to the flea market, Jack's sister, Maddy, who is autistic and never speaks, convinces Jack to swap the family car for a packet of seeds. Adventure soon follows, and Jack finds himself planting a garden that produces a variety of strange and bizarre creatures, meeting the neighbor girl, dealing with his sister, and even encountering a dragon. Hatke deftly weaves in real-world issues as well, such as mother-son relationships, special-needs siblings, and divorced homes. He is in brilliant form here, balancing appropriate dialogue with vibrant, visually engaging images that move the narrative along. Those who enjoy this series starter will want to look out for Jack's future escapades. VERDICT This title will do well with graphic novel readers, fairy-tale fans, struggling readers, and anyone who enjoys good storytelling.—John Trischitti, Midland County Public Libraries, TX
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-07-02
A comic-book riff on the classic tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” in which an impoverished young boy learns that his new garden has a mind of its own.Jack certainly doesn't have an easy life: with past-due notices piling up, his mother works all the time, leaving him to care for his nearly mute autistic sister, Maddy. One fateful day at a flea market, he happens upon a vendor (whom fans of Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl will immediately recognize) who offers him a mysterious box of seeds in exchange for his mother's car. Maddy and Jack accept his deal and quickly discover that these seeds are anything but ordinary—they are magical and dangerous. Joined by his home-schooled neighbor Lilly, the white children spend their summer learning the quirks and magic of the garden until they unearth an evil lurking within it. Hatke is a master visual storyteller; through sparse, carefully chosen text, his largely image-based story enthralls from one action-packed panel to the next. His interpretation of the familiar fairy tale is richly imagined, giving girls—including one on the spectrum—equal weight in the adventure rather than staying true to the male-dominated original. This first in a series flourishes up to its nail-biting cliffhanger: expect interest for the subsequent offering to positively bloom.Very mighty indeed. (Graphic fantasy. 7-13)
The New York Times Book Review - Maria Russo
…[a] thrilling modernized fairy tale…
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Summer looks bleak. Jack will need to take care of his non-verbal, autistic sister, Maddy, because their mother must work two jobs to make ends meet. While their mom shops for tools at a flea market, Jack and Maddy are allowed to look around and get a snack. Jack momentarily loses his sister; when he finds her again, she’s looking at an odd assortment of goods being sold by a strange vendor. As Jack pulls Maddy away, the seller brings out a wooden box of seeds. Maddy is transfixed and she actually talks because she wants the seeds so badly. Caught off-guard, Jack trades the keys to his mom’s car for the box of seeds. What has he done? Jack, Maddy, and a sword-fighting neighbor named Lilly are about to find out. The garden that grows from these seeds is, simply put, magical. It is also monstrous. When something that grows from it takes off with an unconscious Maddy in its clutches, there’s only one thing that Jack and Lilly can do: Go after it. This marvelous, swash-buckling adventure is sure to be as popular as the Hatke’s “Zita the Space Girl” series. Although inspired by a classic fairy tale, this is a complete reimagining that stands on its own merit. (Fans of Hatke may note some familiar-seeming faces in this graphic novel.) A sequel cannot come quickly enough; the book’s conclusion leaves readers on tenterhoks, wondering what happens next. Highly recommended for librarians and classrooms. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green; Ages 6 to 12.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781626722644
Publisher:
First Second
Publication date:
09/06/2016
Series:
Mighty Jack Series , #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
61,585
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
GN200L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Ben Hatke is the author and illustrator of the New York Times-bestselling Zita the Spacegirl trilogy, the picture books Julia's House for Lost Creatures and Nobody Likes a Goblin, and the graphic novels Little Robot and Mighty Jack. He lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters.

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