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Friday, March 23, 2007

A Treasure of Words and Phrases, Ink and Pages

This post is a review of one of the books from my TBR pile for the Spring Reading Thing Challenge 2007, hosted by Katrina over at Callapidder Days. You can find the books in my TBR pile listed below.


Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity... we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access, reassurance. - A.E. Newton

Spring Reading Thing Challenge
A Review of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain. Many years later, Meggie had only to close her eyes and she could still hear it, like tiny fingers tapping on the windowpane. A dog barked somewhere in the darkness, and however often she tossed and turned, Meggie couldn’t get to sleep.
The book she had been reading was under her pillow, pressing its cover against her ear as if to lure her back into its printed pages. “I’m sure it must be very comfortable sleeping with a hard, rectangular thing like that under your head,” her father had teased the first time he found a book under her pillow. “Go on, admit it, the book whispers its story to you at night.”
“Sometimes, yes,” Meggie had said. “but it only works for children.”

And so, the adventure of Inkeheart begins.

Inkheart is a delightful young-adult-fiction book written by Germany’s third most popular children’s book writer, Cornelia Funke. This book was recommended to me over virtual lava cakes and coffee by Amy at the Ultimate Blog Party.
Living with four teenagers, I am still an occasional children’s /young adult’s book reader. And I’ll admit, I am a sucker for any book that can transport you into a whole new world. (Cue the Disney music.)

One of my favorite parts of any really good book is the amazing use of language. I relish words that paint you into the picture, grab your attention and carry you away on the most amazing musical wind – just ask my daughters – I am constantly calling them into the room to read aloud some beautiful passage so that we can marvel at it together. Here are a few samples from Inkheart:

Night was fading over the fields as if the rain had washed the darkness out of the hem of its garment.

“Please, Mo, read to me!” said Meggie. So Mo began filling the silence with words. He lured them out of the pages as if they had only been waiting for his voice, words long and short, words sharp and soft, cooing, purring words. They danced through the room, painting stained-glass pictures, tickling the skin. Even when Meggie nodded off she could still hear them, although Mo had closed the book long ago. Words that explained the world to her, its dark side and its light side, words that built a wall to keep out bad dreams. And not a single bad dream came over the wall for the rest of that night.

One of my favorite things about Inkheart is that the author begins each chapter with a carefully chosen quote from one of many classic children’s books. Some of these books are familiar old friends, and some beg to be added to my TBR list. Ms. Funke used these snippets to either transport the reader back into the pages of a much loved story, or beckon the reader into a new story full of everything that fills an enchanted world. Books like:

L.M Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe
Isaac Bashevis Songer’s Naftali and the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus
Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows
William Goldman’s The Princess Bride
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Michael de Larrabeiti’s The Borribles Go for Broke
Roald Dahl’s The BFG
Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

A true reading treasure is the occasional book that makes it clear the author feels the way I do about words and phrases, ink and pages. Inkheart was such a book:

“If you take a book with you on a journey,” Mo had said when he put the first one in her box, “an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it…yes, books are like flypaper --- memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”

“Every book should begin with attractive endpapers, “he had once told Meggie. “Preferably in a dark color: dark red or dark blue, depending on the binding. When you open the book it’s like going to the theater. First you see the curtain. Then it’s pulled aside and the show begins.”

In conclusion, I can say that when the curtain opens on Inkheart, readers will find a delightful leap into a fantasy world where books come alive, words change the world, and danger is a thrilling and awesome adventure. The teaser in the flyleaf ends with the following words:

“This is Inkheart, a timeless tale about books, about imagination, about life. Dare to read it aloud.”

I have already ordered two other Cornelia Funke titles, and look forward to the day when I can curl up with my future grandchildren and read aloud from the pages of Inkheart --- at our own risk, of course.


scribbit said...

Could you email me, I'll send you the code that way.

Ellen B. said...

What a great review!
I really enjoyed Inkheart. My daughter has read Inkspell but I haven't yet. I enjoyed Thief Lord and Dragon Rider, also. There's Thief Lord Dvd out that we rented and it's very close to the story.
Ellen B.

Deena said...

That was a gorgeous review! I'm adding this to my "buy it for my son so I can read it list" LOL!!

Thanks for the hug...hoping to find my way out of this grief maze soon...

susan said...

Oh great...yet another book to add to me "read me now!" list. It sounds great and maybe I'll even share it with my girls. :)

melody said...

A review that has me wanting to read the book. I adore words woven together so beautifully that the magic happens. Thanks for sharing this.

I'll have to keep peeking on your bookshelves. :)

Jenny in Ca said...

o.k. I have to go add this to my list, it sounds great. I just read a book aimed at youth, "Ember". I picked it up thinking to preview it for the bookclub we host for my daughters and their friends, I am hooked on it- really, really well written. I'll be doing a book review soon at my place.
thanks for sharing.

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