First Second, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto
s evidenced by the title and cover,
is a modern-day take on
Jack and the Beanstalk
. Ben Hatke, though, definitely puts in his own spin to create the perfect fairy tale for today's middle grade reader.
orced to pick up extra work over the summer to make ends meet, Jack's mom puts him in charge of watching his younger sister, Maddy, who happens to be autistic and non-verbal. While at the flea market one day, Jack trades his mom's car keys for some magic seeds because Maddy tells him to buy them. Maddy is soon enamored with starting her garden, but Jack gets a creepy feeling about some of the seeds.
s things begin to grow, he realizes his feelings were correct. Soon their garden is filled with mudslinging hands, weird little onion men, and even a dragon. But some of the vegetation is definitely not nice, and Jack must make a hard decision in order to try to save his family from the garden.
atke creates a wonderful, magical world full of both fantastical and real-world problems that will appeal to readers of all ages, even reluctant ones. The artwork is topnotch and the plot moves at a vigorous pace. Most of all, the characters are highly realistic and relatable, bringing some reality to this fantasy world.
his first volume of
is a must read for middle grade fantasy fans. Ben Hatke is both an amazing storyteller and an excellent artist, two key components for a perfect graphic novel.
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