A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Ellen Levine (Henryâ€™s Freedom Box), Margot Apple (Sheep in a Jeep), A. LaFaye (Worth), Harry Bliss (Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken), Joan Lexau (Crocodile and Hen: a Bakongo Folktale), and Denise Brunkus (Junie B. Jones series).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of chess master Bobby Fischer (1943â€“2008). Read Chess: From First Move to Checkmate by Daniel King.
- In 1796, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte marries Josephine. Read Napoleon: The Story of the Little Corporal by Robert Burleigh.
- In 1841 the United States Supreme Court rules the captive Africans who seized control of the ship carrying them had been taken into slavery illegally. Read Amistad: The Story of a Slave Ship by Patricia McKissak, illustrated by Sanna Stanley.
On March 5th we celebrated aÂ relatively new holiday, World Read Aloud Day. Iâ€™d like to continue this celebration by talking about my favorite recent read-aloud, written by Germanyâ€™s bestselling author for children, Cornelia Funke. Cornelia was brought to the attention of publisher Barry Cunningham by a devoted fan. The girl wrote to Cunningham, who had discovered J. K. Rowling, and told him that although he published the Harry Potter books, he did not publish the best writer in the worldâ€”Cornelia Funke. This letter piqued his interest, and after he read a translation of a couple of chapters of The Thief Lord, Cunningham was convinced that Cornelia deserved a chance to beguile English-speaking children. When The Thief Lord appeared, it became a New York Times bestseller.
Funke both wrote and illustrated her next book to appear in English, Inkheart, our book of the day. By working Â with Anthea Bell on the translation, she was able to get the right sound and timbre to her words. Iâ€™ve always been glad that so much attention was paid to the translation, because it is one of the reasons why Inkheart reads aloud so well.
In this book-loverâ€™s story, twelve-year-old Meggie lives with her father Mo. Her mother has been gone for nine years. Father and daughter both adore books. He repairs them; together they read voraciously and share their love of the written stories. One night a mysterious stranger appears, Dustfinger, and in a rush Mo takes Meggie to the home of her motherâ€™s aunt Eleanor, another book nut who collects rare editions. They are fleeing from a pursuer, the evil Capricorn and his henchmen; eventually they all end up as prisoners in his medieval Italian village.
Only then does Meggie begin to learn her true history. Mo can read aloud so brilliantly that he actually coaxes characters from books into the real world. Unfortunately, a real person from this world then goes into the book. Hence Meggieâ€™s mother, Theresa, vanished into a book called Inkheart. Capricorn, Basta, Dustfinger, and other villains emerged from the tale to cause terror in this world. Meggie also discovers that she has inherited this reading gift from her father, when she brings Tinkerbell out of Peter Pan one day. After Mo brings the author of Inkheart into the adventure, Meggie attempts to reorder the world in the right way. Although probably every lover of literature harbors a fantasy about actually meeting a character that they love in fiction, most of us would not like to encounter some of its villains face-to-face.
Funke sets scenes and creates atmosphere brilliantly. All the chapters are just the right length for reading aloud; they contain a lot of action, cliff-hanging endings, and beautiful language. The book has been perfect for use with nine- through fourteen-year-olds, in class or at home. Reading this book slowly, savoring the scenes and the details of the plot, actually makes it more enjoyable than reading it independently.
So if you are hunting for a great book to read aloud, pick up Inkheart. For those who become enthralled, it begins a trilogy continued in Inkspell and Inkdeath.
Hereâ€™s a passage from the Inkheart:
Meggie sat on the bench behind the house. Dustfingerâ€™s burnt-out torches were still stuck in the ground beside it. She didnâ€™t usually hesitate so long before opening a book but she was afraid of what was waiting for her inside this one. That was a brand-new feeling. She had never before been afraid of what a book would tell her. Far from it. Usually, she was so eager to let it lead her into an undiscovered world, one she had never been to before, that she often started to read at the most unsuitable moments. Both she and Mo often read at breakfast and, as a result, he had more than once taken her to school late. And she used to read under the desk at school, too, and late at night in bed until Mo pulled back the covers and threatened to take all the books out of her room so that sheâ€™d get enough sleep.
Originally posted March 9, 2011. Updated for .