Sunday, November 18, 2018

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

InklingMy name is Ethan, and my dad is a famous graphic novelist, so people expect me to be a great artist too. I'm not. Actually, I'm pretty terrible unless you like stick figures. However, a blot of ink dropped off my dad's sketchpad, and it's come to life! I call him Inkling, and he's able to read and learn from all the ink he eats in printed materials. Oh well, I used to have some awesome graphic novels and comic books. He's teaching me to draw "better", but my dad could use a lot of help too. He has writer's block and hasn't started a new novel in months. What would happen if he found out Inkling exists? I'm guessing something bad. Inkling and I were doing okay together until our secret got out. Now, my world is all messed up, and I've got to figure out a way to make things right. 

This book was a finalist for the 2018 Cybils Book Award in Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. I've enjoyed the author's other books in the past, and Inkling reminded me of my imagination as a young child. How creative is it to have ink become a live character with abilities to learn and communicate? Ethan's artistic problems created a conflict due to a group project at school. It's complicated by a classmate eager to reveal his secret and prove he's an awful artist. Inkling had his own dilemma, but it was less clear. He (or she) sensed he had a purpose for becoming animated, but he didn't know why. As you might expect, his purpose was the key to solving the family problem. Ethan's little sister had Downs Syndrome, and her light-heartedness contrasted sharply with her father's emotional issues. He was battling a lack of inspiration, and he wasn't dealing well with his wife's death. Ethan's sister talked about herself in the third person ("She's hungry"), but the girl had a lot of fun and love to share. She was adorable. Overall, the book told a clever story of ink coming to life in order to save a family. It was very creative, and I recommend you give it a shot. 

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