Mighty Jack and the Goblin King

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King finds Jack, Lilly, and Maddy in a fantastical world with giants and goblins in this retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Graphic novel, fiction, fantasy, adventure
Interest Level: 5-8; Reading Level: 2.8
5 out of 5 stars


This sequel to Mighty Jack picks up right where the story ended — Jack’s sister Maddy has been carried away by a strange creature and Jack and Lilly have set out to rescue her. Hatke has indeed created a very fantastical world that features giant beanstalks holding up castles and sprouting sewer pipes. We learn that this place is a crossroad between worlds, but this once green and thriving world is falling into disrepair.
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Lilly and Jack get separated and encounter goblins, giants, and mutant rat-like creatures as they fight to rescue Maddy and return home. While Jack might seem like the main character, Hatke lets Lilly shine on her own and display her own strength and cunning. This is not a story where the female character is left waiting for the male to save her!
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Hatke’s style of illustration really keeps the focus on the characters. While the creatures and world of plants is very detailed, the background is mostly plain and monochrome so that the reader isn’t overwhelmed.

Snappy dialog and bits of humor make this a really fun story to read. There are also unexpected details like a Magic 8 Ball and a Shelby Mustang that somehow work in this strange alternate world.
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While this book cleanly wraps up the story of Jack, Lilly and Maddy, be prepared for a fun and exciting twist at the end. Hatke sure knows how to keep readers coming back for more!


Mighty Jack and the Goblin King
by Ben Hatke
First Second, 2017
ISBN 978-1-62672-267-5

Mighty Jack by @BenHatke; 5 out of 5 stars #bookaday

This is an extremely well-done graphic novel that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

Mighty Jack
by Ben Hatke
First Second, 2016
ISBN 978-1-62672-265-1
203 pages : chiefly color illustrations ; 23 cm
Graphic novel, fairy tale adaptation
Interest level: grades 3-8; reading level: 2.8
Lexile measure: 200
5 out of 5 stars


Jack and his sister Maddy are beginning summer vacation by going with their mom to the flea market. Through illustrations of past due bills, and mom talking about working two jobs, readers will understand that Jack’s family is facing some economic hardships. We also learn that Maddy doesn’t speak. Hatke combines visual clues with the right level of language to handle these sensitive issues in a realistic and heartfelt way.

While at the flea market, Jack and Maddy encounter a mysterious man who wants to trade some seeds for their mom’s car. Maddy speaks for the first time, telling Jack to do it, and this modern retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” starts to take shape for readers.

Maddy and Jack are joined by Lilly, an adventurous girl who lives nearby, and together these three form a bond as they work on the mysterious and strange garden that begins to take over. The mysterious plants that grow, and the evil changes that the garden takes on, will engage readers. While the story is based on the fairytale, Hatke has given it a fresh, evil take that will keep older readers enthralled.

This is an extremely well-done graphic novel that will appeal to a wide variety of readers. Younger readers who like spooky stories, will enjoy this, as will older readers who might read below grade level. Word of warning! The book ends on a cliffhanger that will make you antsy for the next book. The second book should be out around September 2017.

For people who had read Hatke’s Little Robot, there is a fun cameo in this story to keep your eye out for.

Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears; 4 out of 5 stars #bookaday

by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Beth Coulton; illustrated by Nate Wragg
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2014
ISBN: 978-0-399-25685-1
Picture book, fiction, fractured fairy tale
YHBA nominee, 2016-2017
Interest level: K-3
Reading level: 3.4
4 out of 5 stars


There are a lot of fractured fairy tales that remake Goldilocks and the Three Bears. So while this isn’t exactly a new idea, Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears puts a new, musical spin on the story.

In this version, the three bears play in a band and realize that they need a lead singer who can hit the high notes. So they leave their home studio to go host tryouts. Meanwhile, Goldi smells porridge and heads inside. She sees the home studio, and quickly abandons the porridge to try out the microphone, headphones, and musical instruments. As in the fairy tale, only Baby Bear’s equipment is just right. Exhausted, Goldi falls asleep on Baby Bear’s keyboard, and the bears return home. Startled out of sleep, Goldi screams in the perfect high C, and the bears have found their singer.

Goldi Rocks stays true to the original fairy tale, yet adds a decidedly fresh spin. The rhyming text sounds wonderful when spoken, and moves at a quick pace, making this an ideal read-aloud. It is also fun to see some other fairy tale characters appear in the auditions. The art was done with pencil, painted textures, and Adobe Photoshop and has a film-like cartoon quality that matches the style and plot of the story well.

This would make an excellent addition to a lesson featuring fractured fairy tales.

A bean, a stalk and a boy named Jack; 3 out of 5 stars #bookaday

by William Joyce; illustrated by Kenny Callicutt
Moonbot Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4424-7349-2
Picture book, fiction, fractured fairy tale
YHBA nominee, 2016-2017
Interest level: K-3
Reading level: 2.0
3 out of 5 stars


This book sets out to be a new look at the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. The story starts where we meet the bean–who to me really looks like a pea–but anyway, the bean can talk. The kingdom where Jack lives, hasn’t had rain for so long that the crops, wells, and lakes have all dried up, but that’s not actually the biggest problem in the kingdom. The biggest problem is that King Blah Blah Blah has a “stinky pinky.” From this point on, the story is pretty silly, and doesn’t make sense in some areas.

A local wizard casts a spell on the talking bean, an enormous beanstalk grows, where Jack discovers a giant in the clouds, taking a really long bath and hogging all the water. So Jack convinces him to empty the tub, rides down the drain, the water washes the king’s little toe, crisis averted. The scene between Jack and the giant in the tub, is really kind of weird and didn’t flow well.

The best part of the book is the ending. The bean is thirsty, so Jack and Princess Blah Blah Blah, whose real name is Jill, head up a hill to fetch a pail of water for the bean. Very clever segue into a nursery rhyme and a new story.

The multimedia illustrations are created by Kenny Callicutt at Moonbot Studios. Their cartoon-like quality are fun and will be very appealing to younger children. While silly humor usually plays well with kids, I think that some of the word play and situations are too choppy and will be lost to them.

Good Night, Baddies; 4 out of 5 stars #bookaday

by Deborah Underwood; illustrated by Juli Kangas
Beach Lane Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-48140-984-1
Picture book, fiction, fractured fairy tale
Interest level: K-3
Reading level: 2.4
4 out of 5 stars


This is a fun story that would make a great read-aloud for younger children. The rhyming text lets readers in on the secret to how those evil characters in fairy tales spend their evenings–taking bubble baths, reading stories, checking for princesses under their bed. Not what you expected, huh? The colorful illustrations show a different side to those characters when they clock out of work and head home to relax.

In addition to the fun twist, there are enough hints in the text that readers will enjoy matching each of the baddies to their original fairy tale. This could be an accompaniment to a fairy tale, or fractured fairy tale, unit.