Mighty Jack (Book One)

Ben Hatke's (Little Robot; Zita the Spacegirl trilogy) cinematic graphic novel Mighty Jack uproots and replants the Jack and the Beanstalk story and it grows into something mighty indeed.

It's finally summertime, but Jack's mom is about to start working two jobs, so it will be Jack's job to take care of his autistic little sister, Maddy, day and night. On their last summer day together, they drive to the flea market where Jack, terrifyingly, loses his sister while his mom is busy buying tools. He finds Maddy hanging out with a devilish-looking man with a latched wooden box full of seed packets: "Plant these seeds, and I promise you--freedom," he says. Maddy, who usually doesn't speak, pleads, "Buy the seeds, Jack. Buy all the seeds." Jack doesn't have enough cash, so he gives the guy his mother's car keys. "YOU DID WHAT?!?" his mom says, calling 911.

Obsessed, Maddy starts digging a garden right away. The seeds grow fast, and they grow weirdly. Creepy green hands reach up to the moon, and soon the kids have the most bizarre, dangerous, explosive, prehistoric-looking garden ever, including plants that hurl dirt clods and chase the siblings hungrily. When a sword-wielding neighborhood girl named Lilly joins ranks with them to fend off the violent garden, Jack gets all moony over her. As friendship blossoms, Maddy does, too, finding her voice in the belligerent, otherworldly garden. Told with sensitivity, illustrated with panache, this high-action series debut soars. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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