|Mighty Jack, book 1,
a graphic novel by Ben Hatke
Written by Ben Hatke
Color by Alex Campbell and Hilary Sycamore of Sky Blue Ink
First Second Books, 2016
Grades 4-7, 208 pages
Magical Realism, Coming-of-age, Siblings, Special Needs
Mighty Jack is part one of a fantasy adventure graphic novel. Jack's single mom is trying her best to raise him and his mute little sister, Maddie. When a mysterious stranger at a flea market convinces Jack to buy a box of seed packets for Maddie, the two embark on a strange journey that begins with a patch of dirt in the backyard and ends somewhere beyond the beanstalk.
The seeds grow bizarre, magical plants which have a life of their own. When the garden becomes dangerous, Jack's neighbor Lilly lends her special brand of talent to train Jack, to protect Maddie, and to investigate the creatures growing in the back yard.
I love Ben Hatke's art and was blown away by the breathtaking colors of the artists of Sky Blue Ink. Also, Hatke's grasp on graphic storytelling is refreshing. Lots of illustrators have jumped on the graphic novel bandwagon, but few have yet learned the special skills for composing a page, wordless panels, and storytelling in comic format. In Mighty Jack, the story flows seamlessly from page to page. There are plenty of wordless spreads, but Hatke manages to convey emotion and suspense. His creatures are by turns frightening and adorable, but always cleverly designed. Yes, the story ends on a complete cliffhanger, but comic fans are used to the episodic nature of the medium. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait a whole year for the next issue. Luckily, there's plenty to read in the meantime. I predict a strong fanart following for this series. And if you still can't get enough, hop over to Etsy and purchase some of Ben's original art.
In lieu of the actual opening pages (which you can see on Amazon) I've included two pages of the inciting event.
1. If you enjoyed Mighty Jack, there's more to come. Look for book 2 around September 2017. In the mean time, enjoy the comic capers on Ben's blog, picture books like Julia's House for Lost Creatures or Nobody Likes a Goblin, or more graphic novel work like those below.
|Ben Hatke's other middle grade series,
Zita the Space Girl
|Little Robot, a graphic novel for grades 2-4
Zita the Space Girl
Faith, at Life's An Art!
Alyson, of Kidlit Frenzy
Legends of Zita the Space Girl
Heidi, the Geo Librarian
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl
Beth, at Beth Fish Reads
Mighty Jack, book 1
Karen on Ms. Yingling Reads
|Storm in the Barn, by Matt Phelan,
reviewed by My Brain on Books
|Alamo All-Stars, by Nathan Hale,
reviewed on Word Spelunking
|Anya's Ghost, by Vera Brosgol
Reviewed on Tales From the Raven
|Ghosts, by Reina Telgemeier
Reviewed on Bookish Ambition
Check out all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations for November 21, 2016.
Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!
MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us?