A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mighty Jack and the Goblin King is the second and final book in Ben Hatke's (Zita the Spacegirl) Mighty Jack series, and it begins right in where the first book left off. Newcomers can enjoy the story, but it's best read as a sequel. Hatke reworks the fairy tale as classic fantasy, including sword fights and perilous adventures. The danger feels very real: Children are attacked, bitten, and injured, and creatures are stabbed and beaten. There's some blood. Two characters kiss.
What's the story?
MIGHTY JACK AND THE GOBLIN KING finds friends Jack and Lilly in a strange world of giants and aggressive, rat-like creatures. With help from Lilly and the pipe-dwelling creatures, Jack pursues the ogre that took his sister, Maddie, into the giants' castle. The giants plan to feed Maddie into a machine to "boil her blood and grind her bones." Meanwhile Lilly, hurt after an early battle, wakes up to find friendly goblins healing her with a goblin blood infusion. Their king claims her as a bride, but she defeats him in battle and is named king. Lilly, now part goblin, leads the goblins to join Jack to fight the giants and rescue Maddie. They barely escape safely to their own world, making a discovery that saves Jack's home.
Is it any good?
Part two of Ben Hatke's inspired reimagining of Jack and the Beanstalk starts in the middle of the action and rarely lets up, balancing thrilling action and peril with grounded, relatable characters. Mighty Jack and the Goblin King is rich with gorgeous artwork, quirky creatures, and an imaginative world. The fantasy violence is lightened up with moments of humor, like an unusual Magic 8 Ball in the goblins' sewer home and the goblin king fretting over his appearance. Responsibility and loyalty are strong themes, particularly in Jack's devotion to his family and Lilly's sense of responsibility toward the goblins who claim her as their king.
Hatke fans will be delighted to see some of their favorite characters from his other work make a surprise appearance -- and hint at more adventures to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way Jack and the Beanstalk is reimagined in Mighty Jack and the Goblin King. What connections do you see to the fairy tale? Would this story have been as enjoyable if it more closely followed the familiar story?
Is Lilly much like female characters in fairy tales you know? How do heroes in modern fairy tales -- both boys and girls -- compare with those in the original stories?
If you're familiar with Hatke's other books, do you like seeing characters from different stories come together? If you don't know his other work, does this make you more interested in getting to know these other characters?
- Author: Ben Hatke
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: First Second
- Publication date: September 5, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 208
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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