Published by First Second on September 6th 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—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.
Welcome to the second stop on the Mighty Jack blog tour! My kids and I are huge fans of Ben Hatke’s books, especially his Zita the Spacegirl trilogy and Little Robot. I’m impressed with the stories, the depiction of girls (no surprise, given that he has five daughters!), and the beautiful, vivid art. The kids think his books are thoughtful, adventurous, and funny.
First we’re going to review the book, but since I read it with my 8-year-old son at bedtime (we took turns reading the pages), my review will be a transcription of a conversation we had about the book:
8YO: This book is like Jack and the Beanstalk but better.
Me: Better how?
8YO: Just better. This Jack has a sister and a friend, not just a sad mom who wanted him to sell his cow. And it’s not as scary as Into the Woods.
Me: Do you like the sister and friend?
8YO: I like how Maddy can say what she means without even talking. They are a good brother and sister team.
Me: But sometimes they get on one another’s nerves.
8YO: So do [my sister] and I. That makes sense. But they still help each other.
Me: What about the mom?
8YO: She’s a good mom, and Jack just wants to help. He’s a good son.
Me: How would you describe the book to your friend?
8YO: A funny graphic novel that’s a little bit like Jack and the Beanstalk but funny.
Me: You laughed a lot, but there’s also a lot of adventure.
8YO: I don’t want to talk about those parts, because you said never to spoil books.
Me: What do you think will happen in the next book?
8YO: Mama, that’s spoiling. But let’s give it five stars!
Me: OK. I’ll make sure to tell people you think it’s five stars.
There you have it — five stars from my third grader. Now on to my favorite fairy tale adaptation.
I thought about this, because there are so many great retellings and adaptations to choose from, but I’m going to go with Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles.
Meyer’s series is a fantasy, futuristic retelling of Cindrella (CINDER), Little Red Riding Hood (SCARLET), Rapunzel (CRESS), and Snow White (WINTER). he books have a little bit of everything: action, adventure, court intrigue, romance, and mystery. They’re wonderful “bridge” books for middle grade readers ready for their first young adult stories. And they’re equally as appealing to young AND adult YA fans. I don’t think I’ve personally met anyone in the YA book blogging community who doesn’t love The Lunar Chronicles. That’s for a good reason, because they’re wonderful, quick reads with a lot to rave about (and I’m not just talking about the obvious and easy-to-root-for “ships”).
I always recommend the books and have even had long conversations about them with everyone from librarians to my Girl Scout Troop of 6th graders. I know Meyer’s retellings will be beloved for a long time!
Miss Print, 9/26
Teen Lit Rocks, 9/27
Charlotte’s Library, 9/28
Kid Lit Frenzy, 9/29
Librarians’ Quest, 9/30
YA Bibliophile, 10/3
Ex Libris Kate, 10/4
The Book Rat, 10/5
Love Is Not a Triangle, 10/6
The Reading Nook, 10/7