Jack might be the only kid in the world who’s dreading summer. But he’s got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s boring, too, because Maddy doesn’t talk. Ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk―to tell Jack to trade their mom’s car for a box of mysterious seeds. It’s the best mistake Jack has ever made.
In Mighty Jack, what starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok, huge, pink pumpkins that bite, and, on one moonlit night that changes everything…a dragon.
Jack doesn’t have the best summer to look forward to. His mom must take on a second job, leaving him to watch his younger sister, Maddy. One day at a flea market, a stranger offers Jack magic beans in exchange for his mom’s car. Maddy, who never talks, finally says words to have Jack make the trade. As they begin to plant the seeds, Maddy and Jack realize this won’t be an ordinary garden.
I loved the basis as a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. Retelling stories have so much potential and it’s always interesting to see a new interpretation. I have to admit, I wanted this story to be so much more and was disappointed. There was an opportunity to round out the characters, but Hatke misses it. We have three characters with struggles that never get developed. We have a mother struggling to pay bills, get a second job, and don’t have the time to spend with her children. Jack is a young boy put into an adult situation of caring for his sibling and keeping the house in order. Maddy doesn’t speak but shows a strong curiosity. The story skirts around the realness of these characters and focuses more on the garden.
I also felt like there was no arc to this story. It isn’t very long, but there should still be a rise and fall. Instead, the entire book is an upward climb to the final moment in which readers are left with a cliff hanger. Nothing was resolved. The graphics were beautiful and the color palate was complimentary, but it wasn’t enough the save this lackluster story.
I received a complimentary copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.