Gr 4-8-Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie, 12, has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young. Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. Things change after a visit from a scarred man who calls himself Dustfinger and who refers to Mo as Silvertongue. Meggie learns that her father has been keeping secrets. He can "read" characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released Dustfinger and other characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie's mother disappeared into the story. Mo also released Capricorn, a sadistic villain who takes great pleasure in murdering people. He has sent his black-coated henchmen to track down Mo and intends to force him to read an immortal monster out of the story to get rid of his enemies. Meggie, Mo, Dustfinger, and Meggie's great-aunt Elinor are pursued, repeatedly captured, but manage to escape from Capricorn's henchmen as they attempt to find the author of Inkheart in the hope that he can write a new ending to the story. This "story within a story" will delight not just fantasy fans, but all readers who like an exciting plot with larger-than-life characters. Pair this title with Roderick Townley's The Great Good Thing (2001) and Into the Labyrinth (2002, both Atheneum) for a wonderful exploration of worlds within words.-Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
It is hard to avoid preciosity in books about books, but here Funke pulls off the feat with vigor. Meggie, an avid reader, lives alone with her father, a bookbinder; her mother disappeared years before. When a disturbing stranger named Dustfingers intrudes on their peace, she gradually discovers that the barrier between books and the real world is permeable and that an ill-fated read-aloud years ago unleashed Capricorn, who "would feed [a] bird to [a] cat on purpose . . . and the little creature's screeching and struggling would be as sweet as honey to him." Funke takes her time with her tale, investing her situations with palpable menace and limning her characters with acute sensitivity; she creates in Meggie a stalwart heroine who never loses her childish nature even as she works to contain the monster and bring her mother back. Master translator Bell takes the German text and spins out of it vivid images and heart-stopping language that impel the reader through this adventure about narratives-a true feast for anyone who has ever been lost in a book. (Fiction. 10+)
Horn Book Magazine
(January 1, 2004; 0-439-53164-0)
(Intermediate, Middle School) Who hasn't dreamed of it--characters leaping from the pages of a book to interact with the reader? Or, better yet, the reader transported--quite literally--into the make-believe world of a novel? In this tale of adventure and fantasy by the author of The Thief Lord (rev. 11/02), twelve-year-old Meggie and her father Mo live in a house overflowing with "small piles of books, tall piles of books, books thick and thin, books old and new." But it's one particular book that brings a stranger named Dustfinger to their house one rainy spring night. Meggie learns that many years earlier, while Mo was reading aloud a novel called Inkheart, his voice somehow brought many of its characters--including Dustfinger and the evil despot Capricorn--"slipping out of their story like a bookmark forgotten by some reader between the pages." Now Dustfinger (who longs to return to his fictional origins) wants Mo to read him back into the book, while Capricorn (who likes it here just fine) wants Mo to use his powers to read gold and riches out of stories such as Treasure Island and summon a malevolent, immortal character called the Shadow from the pages of Inkheart. Thanks to Harry P., kids may not be scared off by this volume's heft, though they may wish the pacing wasn't quite so leisurely--even the novel's many chases and hostage-takings are related in a deliberate fashion. But bibliophiles will delight in a story that celebrates books (each chapter begins with a literary passage ranging from Shakespeare to Sendak), and the conclusion is especially satisfying. Copyright 2004 of The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved.
(December 15, 2003; STARRED)
Tackling Funke's (The Thief Lord) meaty, intricately plotted tale of magic and books, Redgrave colors her reading with appropriately varying degrees of suspense, revelation and drama. Twelve-year-old Meggie, a self-proclaimed bookworm, finds it odd that her bookbinder father, Mo, has never read aloud to her. But when a mysterious man named Dustfinger appears in the rainy shadows of the garden one night, Meggie begins to unravel the secret her father has kept all her life: when Mo reads aloud from books, the characters come to life and appear before him. This magical power proves dangerous, as characters from a certain book-Inkheart-are on the loose and after Mo. Many twists and turns that will particularly intrigue those who love books unfold before Meggie ultimately learns that she and her father have something in common when it comes to magic. Redgrave's voice takes on growling, sometimes whispery qualities as she portrays villains; a brighter inquisitive tone prevails as Meggie makes observations and interacts with the other characters. The end result is a satisfying listen, perfect for long winter evenings by the fire. Ages 11-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Voice of Youth Advocates
(December 1, 2003; 0-439-53164-0)
The author of The Thief Lord (Scholastic, 2002, c2000/VOYA April 2003) produces another magical novel that is sure to be popular. Mo is a bookmender keeping a secret from his daughter. For as long as she can remember, twelve-year-old Meggie has been on the move with her father, often fleeing in the middle of the night. When an odd character shows up on their doorstep with a mysterious book in hand, warning them to hide, she demands some answers. Mo confesses that his work is related to the absence of Meggie's mother, who disappeared nine years ago. He solicits the aid of an eccentric aunt to watch Meggie for a while, but soon they are all captives of a diabolical crime boss named Capricorn. It is revealed that Mo accidentally released several characters from Inkheart by reading out loud to his wife on that long-ago night. She disappeared into the book when they emerged, a