Welcome to the final tour date for Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke. I adored Little Robot, so when I was invited to join the blog tour for Mighty Jack, of course I said YES!
Read on for my review of this gorgeous, epic retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, and for some of my favorite fairy tale adaptations!
Published September 6th 2016 by First Second
Amazon | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads
But then, one day, she does talk. Maddy tells Jack in no uncertain terms to trade their mom's car for a box of magic beans. It's the best mistake Jack has ever made. The little garden behind his house is about to become home to tiny onion babies running amok, dangerous biting cabbages, and, in a fiery cliff-hanger at the end of this first volume: a dragon.
One of the titles that had caught my eye, was the charmingly wonderful Little Robot, by Ben Hatke. So when Macmillan asked me if I would be interested in joining the blog tour for Mighty Jack - a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk - of course I said yes!
Hatke introduces us to Jack, a teenaged boy who dislikes summer vacation. His mom is now working two jobs to support the family, which leaves him responsible to care for his sister Maddy, who is autistic. Maddy doesn't talk, and Jack finds it a challenge to communicate with her.
However, a chance encounter with a seller who trades Jack for a bag of beans, opens up a dangerous, magical and fascinating new world for the siblings...
First things first: Hatke does an exceptional job of adapting elements of Jack and the Beanstalk into Mighty Jack. All of the key points are there, including Jack's socioeconomic circumstances; the slightly odd encouter involved with acquisition of the beans, and the danger that the fully grown beans eventually brings. Anyone who has read or is familiar with Jack and the Beanstalk, will absolutely feel a welcoming sense of familiarity with Mighty Jack.
But Hatke also adds his own twists into the boo via Maddy, and a newfound friend in the form of neighbor Lily. Both girls show strength in their own ways; Maddy is astute and has a natural affinity with plants, while Lily has skill with archery and weapons, and is fiercely loyal and talented. Their presence helps makes this a family adventure verses a solitary one, and readers will absolutely appreciate how they help push Jack (and the story!) along, while challenging his thinking, and supporting his decisions.
Unlike the fairytale, the allure of the plants come from the plants themselves. Hatke showcases a variety of mysterious, creepy and ethereal powers in the plants, but it's not without a cost. We clearly see the plants damaging and learning how to control the environment around them - there was a snail that absolutely gave me the heebie jeebies - and is leading the trio down a path that is challenging and dangerous.
Outside of the core story, Hatke's drawings are equally charming and spooky. He draws us into Jack's world easily, but adds in nods, little illustrations and moments that remind us that this is a world where magic and the real world have collided.
On my favorite fairytale adaptations:
Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk by Liesl Shurtliff (Yearling)
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor (Speak)
A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (Candlewick)
It's actually been several years since I've read A Long Long Sleep - to the point I had forgotten about it. (Whoops)
But this really is one of my favorite adaptations of Sleeping Beauty. Anna Sheehan takes the idea of Sleeping Beauty, and puts her in a world where the main character goes to sleep and wakes up 65 years in the future, in a world where she's heir to one of the richest companies in the world.
It honestly blew me a way the first time I had read it, and I'm now feeling silly I had ever forgotten it.
Check out the rest of the tour!
Teen Lit Rocks, 9/27
Charlotte’s Library, 9/28
Kid Lit Frenzy, 9/29
Librarians’ Quest, 9/30
YA Bibliophile, 10/3
Ex Libris Kate, 10/4
The Book Rat, 10/5
Love Is Not a Triangle, 10/6
The Reading Nook, 10/7 <---- HELLO! :D
About 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 novel Little Robot. He lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters. benhatke.com