Mighty Jack and the Goblin King, by Ben Hatke, (Sept. 2017, :01First Second), $14.99, ISBN: v
Recommended for readers 8-12
It’s here! The sequel to Mighty Jack (2016) is here! And the best part? It’s AMAZING.
Mighty Jack introduced us to Jack, his autistic sister, Maddy, and neighbor, Lilly. The trio discovered a magical garden that got a little out of control; Maddy was kidnapped, and Jack and Lilly set off through a portal, determined to bring her back. Mighty Jack and the Goblin King picks up with Jack and Lilly arriving in a way station of sorts; a crossroads between worlds. Lilly is injured, forcing Jack to continue alone, where he discovers the giants’ plan for his sister: to feed her to a mechanical “beast” that will grind her bones into dust, and eat her, securing their ability to rule until the next time the beast needs to be fed! Lilly, meanwhile, has been rescued and is being cared for by goblins, who plan to marry her to their goblin king.
Spoiler alert: It’s not David Bowie.
Jack and Lilly’s separation provides each character with his and her own quests, allowing each character a strong story and development arc. I loved reading Lilly’s journey from daredevil to warrior princess and Jack’s continued growth as a loving brother who will do anything for his sister. I was so happy to see Phelix, the garden dragon, back in action! The goblins are an unexpected joy to read, and the giants are wonderfully crude and repulsive.
I LOVE Ben Hatke’s work. He brings together the best elements of realistic fiction and fantasy and blends them together, creating unputdownable tales that give kids a new legion of heroes to follow, from Zita the Spacegirl
to Mighty Jack; from Julia
, who could teach a house full of monsters to tidy a house, to a lovable and brave little goblin
, Ben Hatke finds the humanity in the fantastic.
By the way, the ending will make kids (and you, if you’re a fan) whoop and holler. No spoilers!
Give your displays a Ben Hatke love-fest by getting out your Mighty Jacks, Zita books, Little Robot, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, and Nobody Likes a Goblin. Mighty Jack fits in with a display of hot graphic novels to read; it also pairs nicely with Gennifer Choldenko’s Al Capone books, where the main character has a conflicted relationship with his autistic sister.