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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King, by Ben Hatke. First Second, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2017. $20.99 ages 8 and up

"Are ...
Are you - ?
F-fell out the pipes.
Crawl'd here t' hide.
You - You gotta carry
me back t' th' pipes.
I cain't survive here.
Look I -
want to help you but
my sister, she -

I hold out hope that you read Mighty Jack last year. If you did, you will be charmed to find Jack and Lilly setting out in a brand new adventure to save Jack's sister, Maddy. You will also know that their first adventure ended with a cliffhanger, meant to keep fans longing for the action in this next story.

It begins as they plunge downward into unfamiliar territory. Jack is anxious to move forward, while Lilly advises caution. Jack has no time for that:

"Jack, slow down!"

"Slow down? Lilly, that ogre thing has Maddy!
And it already has a head start on us!"

"I just -
we don't know what's out there.
We should have a plan."

"I have a plan.
I'm going to catch up to that ogre,
smash its head,
and bring my sister home."

Of they go, on an adventure sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats. They climb a not-too-sturdy beanstalk, battle rats, goblins and giants. They launch off in different directions, each dealing with monsters of their own. Clever and courageous in their singular quests, it is finally up to Lilly and her minions to save Jack from his attempt to protect and keep Maddy from harm at the hands of the giants who want to use her as a destructive force.

Kids who know the Jack and the Beanstalk folktale will surely recognize elements in this one, and will very much enjoy the graphic format. The spectacular art is colored by Alex Campbell and Hillary Sycamore in grand style, and with attention to every detail. The action is non-stop, the danger palpable, and the heroics worthy of praise. The final scene is the stuff that keeps eager fans waiting and watching for the next installment. What a sequel! Go find Mighty Jack before you read this one. It will add to your enjoyment, no doubt.

Thankfully, 2018 is just around the corner and we can hope for another installment.

Love those goblins!

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