A comic-book riff on the classic tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” in which an impoverished young boy learns that his new garden has a mind of its own.
Jack certainly doesn't have an easy life: with past-due notices piling up, his mother works all the time, leaving him to care for his nearly mute autistic sister, Maddy. One fateful day at a flea market, he happens upon a vendor (whom fans of Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl will immediately recognize) who offers him a mysterious box of seeds in exchange for his mother's car. Maddy and Jack accept his deal and quickly discover that these seeds are anything but ordinary—they are magical and dangerous. Joined by his home-schooled neighbor Lilly, the white children spend their summer learning the quirks and magic of the garden until they unearth an evil lurking within it. Hatke is a master visual storyteller; through sparse, carefully chosen text, his largely image-based story enthralls from one action-packed panel to the next. His interpretation of the familiar fairy tale is richly imagined, giving girls—including one on the spectrum—equal weight in the adventure rather than staying true to the male-dominated original. This first in a series flourishes up to its nail-biting cliffhanger: expect interest for the subsequent offering to positively bloom.
Very mighty indeed. (Graphic fantasy. 7-13)