Ike—an inkblot with chickeny legs, a dome head, and an eager smile—is also a blocked writer. Like many before him, he procrastinates (“A bit of cleaning was also in order”), and then he decides that his story demands ink made from exceptional ingredients: shadows, the feathers of a booga-bird, and the essence of the dark side of the moon (which requires building a rocket ship). After some chaotic concocting (“He mashed, he bludgeoned, he crushed, and he steamed”), Ike sits down to write and, sure enough, a story inspired by his ink quest materializes. The structure of Farley’s debut feels a little like Ike’s journey: well-intentioned, but convoluted and somewhat repetitive. However, Farley is a genuine talent, playing with detail, scale, and texture like a seasoned pro, giving her images a sweet, eccentric, comic rhythm. And there are some marvelous individual spreads, including one that definitively and spectacularly answers the question, What happens when you mix ink in a blender and leave the lid off? Ages 4–8. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Farley is a genuine talent, playing with detail, scale, and texture like a seasoned pro, giving her images a sweet, eccentric, comic rhythm.
—The New York Times
Farley does a masterful job exposing the beauty of imagination through this young character in her book for beginning readers. Each page boasts its own perceived texture and mood, and Farley does not wait for the page turn to show her hand. Farley’s debut picture book is full of high-contrast, stylized images; hopeful endeavors; and the elusive message that the journey is just as important (or more so) than the finish line. Ike’s Incredible Ink is playful, smart, and whimsical in design, much like creativity at a young age should be. Ike, like the book’s author, is daring, works against the grain, and is ready to turn a pressed pen into an infectiously fun inkblot.
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
Ike wants to write an incredible story and he knows that he can. But as he begins, Ike has a bit of writer's block. Perhaps finding his favorite pen might help. Or maybe chatting with a friend or cleaning. Those efforts do not help Ike, so he decides that he needs a special ink. How to make this ink? He wants it to have the characteristics of a shadow, special bird feathers, and the dark side of the moon. If he's going to use the dark side of the moon, he must travel there. After returning from the moon, Ike has everything to begin making the ink. He goes through several procedures to create the ink. As the illustrations show, Ike's story is told through his search for products of his special ink. The illustrations, which are part ink and part collage serve to give a realistic atmosphere to Ike's fantastic search. They also add color to a muted palate of blues, black and white. Ike's problem and solution can prove somewhat amusing and intriguing to readers in first, second, and possibly third grades. For teachers, it would be a humorous launch to a writing assignment in these upper grades. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Ike wants to write an incredible story and feels that all the reading he has done has prepared him for this moment. Unfortunately, what he expects to come easily does not, and he becomes frustrated with the process. So Ike does what every good author does: he procrastinates. He cleans, he searches for a favorite pen, and chats with friends. When the story still eludes him, he sets off on a quest to find what he has identified as the magical missing ingredient-ink! Ike seeks out everything he associates with the word "inky." A shadow is inky as are feathers from a certain bird. It is the third ingredient that shows that the protagonist will go to any lengths to make his perfect ink. He goes to the Moon. The idea that someone will go to such lengths to procure the perfect ink is fantastically silly. The art is done in, well, ink, but other items are digitally collaged to create a spontaneous and funny look to the book. Ike's attempt to blend together the ingredients but forgetting to put the lid on the blender will crack up young readers. The art is striking and great fun to explore. Kids will be drawn to the quirky book.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
The long and winding--and funny and diverting--road to creative endeavor. Ike wants to write an incredible story, but first he needs…what does he need? "Maybe he needed to find his favorite pen. And have a long chat with his best friend. And a bit of cleaning was also in order." Also, clearly, he needs to make his own ink! Shadows are "shifty and mysterious" like ink, so Ike nabs a shadow and safeguards it in a bag. The dark side of the moon is black like ink, so Ike matter-of-factly builds a spaceship to go fetch some. "It's hard to say what Ike found on the dark side of the moon, because he didn't bring a flashlight. But whatever he found went in that big bag." Ingredients procured, he bludgeons, steams and mashes them together using flasks and beakers, a mallet and his own feet. Ike's a quirky character with spindly limbs and a torso shaped--and sometimes spattering--like an ink blot. In digital collage and, natch, ink, Farley balances textured backgrounds and black splashes (the blender scene is spectacular) with a minimalism that emphasizes Ike's singular project. Whether he needed the ink for itself or needed its creation as story fodder, Ike's finally ready to sit down and write. A realistically comical look at artistic process disguised as merry procrastination. (Picture book. 4-8)