Welcome to Magic, Myth, & Mischief in celebration 
of fairy tales, mythology, and fantastic beasts of lore such as dragons, fae, mermaids, and unicorns!
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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

(Pages 2-3, US digital edition)

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

MIGHTY JACK and its brand-new sequel, MIGHTY JACK AND THE GOBLIN KING, have that perfect, whimsical twist that will appeal to all ages. This is a series that I could easily see being brought to life by the Jim Henson Studio. The puppets would be AMAZING because these creatures are so out-of-this-world and fun. (I'm especially reminded of Labyrinth, but it fits into the canon perfectly for the whole studio.)

I mean, just LOOK at some of these creatures we meet:

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

MIGHTY JACK is a little bit Jack and the Beanstalk, but with a twist. For one thing, the beanstalk is menacing and evil--and at one point, the stalks even look like hands reaching into the sky! I'm strongly reminded of the musical Little Shop of Horrors, where an evil plant is unknowingly brought to Earth. (With the eclipse last week and this book releasing on Tuesday, maybe we'd better be careful, because that's how Audrey II came here... ^.~) 

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

But cool things are brought here, too. UM, LIKE A DRAGON!!!! I really liked the way dragons and goblins and giants and all these creatures of legend that we think are make-believe are proven to be real. They were banished from our world when their portal closed, and due to some magic seeds that Jack and his sister Maddy plant, they've begun to return. Plus, it's really cool that the dragon looks very much like a beanstalk itself! I love all the cohesion!!!

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

Another thing I loved about this book was the emphasis on family. Jack is such an awesome, protective older brother! His little sister Maddy has issues that keep her from talking. When she expresses an interest in some magic seeds and TALKS, Jack is excited to do everything he can to keep her interested and communicating. When the stalks start growing and causing mayhem, Jack doesn't lay the blame at Maddy's feet. He says everything is his fault, even when the stalks mud-bomb their house:

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

Jack is becoming a teenager and learning to take on more responsibility as his mother works multiple jobs to keep them afloat. When Maddy is kidnapped, Jack literally goes up a beanstalk to another world to save her from the giants who want to kill her. Talk about heroic!

Jack isn't the only heroic character, either. Jack's friend Lilly is super fierce. She's homeschooled and has older brothers who have taught her how to fight, sword and all. She helps Jack go to another world to save his sister, and even breaks her ribs in the process! When she's rescued by some well-meaning goblins and restored to health, she finds out that's now obligated to marry the Goblin King...unless she can overcome him in a duel to the death! She's super kick-butt and will be admired by gals and guys alike!

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

You may recall my gushing when I read DOLL BONES by Holly Black after in won a Newbery Honor. I was impressed with how Black captured that awkward time as kids transition to teens. It's so hard to do well, and Hatke joins the category of middle-grade writers who do it WELL. Jack and Lilly are friends, but they might feel something more for one another, too. But they're young, so maybe they won't act on it. Plus, FAMILY, and family can be super embarrassing, right???

©Ben Hatke / First Second Books

I just really like the way this in-between stage is handled! I also love the way Jack's mom is in the picture, even though she works a lot. Jack does some dumb things--and says he does things he didn't in order to protect his sister and hide the fact that monstrous plants are living out back. His mom is very accepting of his mistakes and trying her best to help him grow up positively. I just really loved her influence and the way she is raising her children!

Both MIGHTY JACK and its sequel, MIGHTY JACK AND THE GOBLIN KING, are quick, fun reads full of colorful art and compelling story that will keep readers of all ages captivated. They're full of action, adventure, friendship, family, dangerous and mischievous creatures, and so much more!

Also, check out this video at Paste Magazine where Ben Hatke talks about living creatively and shows off his mad skills!!! He can breathe fire, jump through hoops of fire, run on stilts, and so much more!!!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: G ( kissing )
Language: --
Violence: PG ( sword fighting injuries; a little fantasy blood  )
Other: --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The first cover reads more "fairy tale" because the Jack and the Beanstalk elements come across loud and clear, but the second cover truly shines. It highlights all the things that make this series unique and hints at all of the adventure to come!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Ben Hatke
Release Date: Sept. 6, 2016
Publisher: First Second Books / Macmillan
Received: For Review


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—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. 

Author: Ben Hatke
Release Date: Sept. 5, 2017
Publisher: First Second Books / Macmillan
Received: For Review


Like a bolt from the blue, Jack's little sister Maddy is gone—carried into another realm by an ogre. 

When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive. 

Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters—as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below. 

But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king! 

Ben Hatke, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Zita the Spacegirl, concludes his latest middle-grade fantasy-adventure graphic novel series, Mighty Jack, with the energetic finale to his retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. 


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 novels Little Robot and Mighty Jack. He lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters. 



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