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Inkheart
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Gr 4-8-An inventive plot and memorable characters will draw listeners into Cornelia Funke's fantasy (Scholastic, 2003). Twelve-year-old Meggie and Mo, her book binder father, are fleeing their old enemy, Capricorn, when they arrive at Great Aunt Eleanor's book-lined villa in Italy. Though the three of them are brave and wily by turns, their cruelly-powerful nemesis manages to find them and their copy of the book, Inkheart. That's when Meggie learns about her father's extraordinary ability to read book characters into life, and the events that caused her mother's disappearance when Capricorn emerged from the title book. Meggie, Mo, Eleanor, and a host of friends and enemies go through plot twists that involve captures, escapes and, finally, an end to Capricorn's reign of terror. At the heart of it all, is the power of story and family love. Actress Lynn Redgrave shows her considerable powers as a narrator with well-chosen voices that fit each character and mood. Anthea Bell gets kudos for a translation from the German that is both lyrical and exciting. The sound quality and packaging are well done with information on which chapters can be found on each cassette. Inkheart is a nuanced and intriguing recording that will appeal to adults and teens as well as upper elementary and middle school students. It will be a popular choice in school libraries that serve students from grade four up, and public libraries as well.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

In Funke's (The Thief Lord) delectably thick and transfixing fantasy, 12-year-old Meggie learns that when her bookbinder father, Mo, reads a book aloud, the characters and other objects appear in the real world. Nine years ago, Mo accidentally brought out evil Capricorn and his loyal man, Basta, from Inkheart (as well as the "fire-eater," Dustfinger), and they are hot on his trail. Capricorn wants to destroy Mo's copy of the book so that Mo can't return Capricorn to his fictional life, and Capricorn wants the bookbinder to read out treasures (as in "gold") for him (as well as a murderous "friend" from Inkheart known as the Shadow). While the specifics of how the magic works remain a bit fuzzy, the characters are wonderfully complex, from tragic Dustfinger, who would stop at nothing to return to the world he misses, to the superstitious Basta who remains loyal to his boss even after the villain sentences him to death. Readers will quickly find themselves entranced by the well-orchestrated plot, commiserating with Meggie's great-aunt Elinor when Capricorn's men burn the bibliophile's library of rare books, and jumping when events take a suspenseful turn. Funke plans every exquisite detail: chapters begin with quotes from books such as The Wind in the Willows, setting the stage for this book about books, and bookworms will appreciate the opportunities to identify with the characters (e.g., Dustfinger does not want to learn the ending of Inkheart, both Mo and Elinor warn Meggie of the dangers of fire to those who surround themselves with pages, etc.). Meggie makes a triumphant heroine and in the end discovers her own secret talent. Funke once again proves the power of her imagination; readers will be captivated by the chilling and thrilling world she has created here. Ages 11-15. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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