Ben Hatke’s Might Jack is a modern retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk—but beans aren’t the only thing growing out of control in this tale. When Jack’s autistic sister, Maddy, who never talks, tells him to trade their mom’s car for a packet of seeds, they’re in for a more exciting summer than they ever could have imagined. Monsters, some of which are downright adorable, grow from Jack and Maddy’s garden. With a little help from a dragon and a little more from the eccentric neighbor girl, Lilly, Jack and Maddy take on their otherworldly overgrowth.
Mixed in this exciting fantasy are some real-world situations, too. Jack finds the responsibility of being the older sibling to a special needs sister a lot to deal with and it effects his relationship with their mom who is doing her best to take care of them on her own. You’ll want to root for all of these characters: the frazzled mom, the boy who is trying to be a good son and brother while also taking time to be a young teen, and most of all Maddy. It’s rare to find an autistic character as a key player in a youth graphic novel, but she’s always right there holding her own in the garden with the older kids and is obviously a loved and valued member of the family.
The sequel to Mighty Jack is scheduled to be published in September 2017, but if you can’t wait that long for more, try Ben Hatke’s other graphic novel series, Zita the Spacegirl.