Mighty Jack

illus. by Ben Hatke, Alex Campbell, & Hilary Sycamore. 205p. First Second. Sept. 2016. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781626722644.
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.

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