Early Book Review: Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke is a graphic novel that is currently scheduled for release on September 6 2016. 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, but only to tell Jack to trade their mom's car for a box of mysterious seeds. It's the best mistake Jack has ever made. 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.

Mighty Jack is an imaginative graphic novel that starts with a pair of siblings that are devoted to each other, but like all siblings get annoyed or frustrated with each other as well. While their mom is busy working so that family does not have to leave their home the trouble with the garden starts, and a new friendship begins. I really like the dynamics between Jack and Maddie, and then the neighbor Lilly. Jack both adores his sister and is frustrated with the level of responsibility on his shoulders. In other words he is an ordinary kid facing both perfectly normal, and some seriously unusual challenges.  I think we could have seen more of Lilly's time away from the siblings, since it was clear that she was hiding something. However, my real complaint is that that action really ramped up at the end, only to leave readers with a serious cliff hanger and needing to know what is going to happen next. As always the characters, story, and artwork are all wonderful just as I expect from Hatke. It was not quite as awesome as Zita the Spacegirl, but still an engaging read that fans of all ages will enjoy.

Mighty Jack is an engaging graphic novel, as I have come to expect from Hatke. My only complaint is that it is clearly the beginning of a series, and the ending leaves the reader hanging and waiting for more.

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