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Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Translated by Anthea Bell;
Cover Artist: Carol Lawson
Review by Gayle Surrette
Scholastic Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780439709101
Date: 01 June 2005 List Price $8.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Meggie's father meets a strange man near their home and suddenly decides to move to his wife's sister's home. Meggie, while used to moving, had hoped that this time they'd make a home here. But, the stranger is waiting in the early dawn as they attempt to leave, and joins them. What's going on? Who is this stranger? Why is her father so worried?

Meggie is a pretty normal girl who loves to read. Luckily for her, her father is a book binder who restores old books and often gives Meggie books with beautiful covers and end papers. Every time they move, Meggie takes her special books -- her friends. She loves to read and as often wondered why her father will not read aloud to her.

The story is about books. The stories in books are real from page one until the end page. What if characters were to escape from their books? It may sound like great fun but would you want to meet Captain Hook or Blackbeard the Pirate, or any of the other bad guys of fiction. We won't mention Hannibal Lecter who gives me the shivers in his books. I don't want him out in the world at all.

Jasper Fforde writes amusingly about the problems of fictional characters crossing into our world in his Thursday Next books. But in Inkheart, Cornelia Funke plays it straight and tells a tale of cruelty and evil caused by such crossings. Though in this world, when a character steps across the boundary into our world, someone in our world is pulled through into the story realm.

"Mo," she asked, "do you think she likes being in that story?"

It took Mo quite a long time to answer. "She'd certainly like the fairies," he said at last, "although they're deceitful little things. And if I know her she'll be putting out bowls of milk for the goblins. Yes, I think she'd like that part of it. . . "

"So. . .so, what wouldn't she like?" Meggie looked at him anxiously.

Mo hesitated. "The evil in it," he finally said. "so many bad things happen in that book, and she never found out that it all ends reasonably well--after all, I never finished reading her the whole story. That's what she wouldn't like."

A book about books and their characters. What would it be like to be pulled out of your life? Away from family and friends, not knowing who to trust and who to fear. Funke gives us much to enjoy, including a delightfully feisty main character, Meggie. She may be young but she's got a good head on her shoulders and I'm sure many readers will find her someone to admire.

While marketed as a young adult book, the themes and story can be just as enjoyable to adults.

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