Posts Tagged ‘Cornelia Funke’

Ghosthunters And The Incredibly Revolting GhostPublished in 2006, Ghosthunters And The Incredibly Revolting Ghost is the first of a four book series by Cornelia Funke. For those of you not aware, this is the same author who wrote the Inkheart Trilogy, The Thief Lord, and Igraine The Brave (all formerly reviewed on this site).

Story overview:

Nine year old Tom lives in an apartment complex. A new resident recently moves in, but unlike the typical occupant who rents an apartment, this one is a ghost (named Hugo) who haunts the cellar. At first Tom is scared away, but his Grandmother’s friend, Hetty Hyssop, tells him that the ghost is just an ASG (Averagely Scary Ghost)—which is mostly harmless.

When Tom confronts Hugo, he finds that the ghost was chased out of his former home by an IRG (Incredibly Revolting Ghost). Thankfully for both Tom and Hugo, Hetty Hyssop is an expert ghost hunter.

After collecting supplies, the three of them set out to chase away the IRG so that Hugo can have his home back. Once they arrive at the old house, Hetty Hyssop quickly discovers that this IRG is the most powerful one she’s ever dealt with.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed the lightheartedness of this story. Funke creatively uses objects to fight against ghosts, such as eggs, graveyard dirt, and mirrors. Keep in mind that unlike her other works [mentioned above], this one is geared to a slightly younger audience.

Things to consider:

There’s no inappropriate language, violence, or sexual situations. However, if taken in the wrong light, situations such as the IRG removing its head might come across as slightly disturbing to some children. Overall I’d say this is a safe read and one good for children ages seven to preteens.

Opportunities for discussion:

Some Christians get overly protective whenever a story contains ghosts. Please remember that this is a work of fiction, and not meant to be taken literally. Explain to your children what the Bible says about ghosts (which, if memory serves, isn’t much, if anything at all), and ask them if they believe ghosts are real. Explain to them your beliefs on the topic, but be careful not to put them down if they say something you don’t agree with.

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The Thief LordI decided to give this one a try because it was written by an author I have come to like. At first, I assumed it would be just another Fantasy story along the lines of Inkheart and Igraine The Brave, but I was surprised to find how few fantasy elements it had. In fact, it wasn’t until further along in the book that I discovered the fantastical properties. It is nice to see writers who are able to pull off more than one format.

I believe there is also a movie version of this story, but I have not seen it, so keep that in mind when reading this review; the two may be quite different.

Story overview:

After the death of their mother, 12-year-old Prosper and 5-year-old Bo run away to Italy; the place their mother had told them was magical. Shortly after they arrive, it becomes clear to them that there is little magical about it. They meet a group of street kids who survive by stealing from tourists, overseen by  a 13-year-old boy who goes by the name of The Thief Lord.

Prosper and Bo’s aunt hire a private detective named Victor Getz to track down the two boys. At first, you might think that she misses them, but ultimately her plan is to put Prosper in an orphanage and keep Bo like a little toy puppy. This is the reason they ran away in the first place. Unbeknownst to their aunt, Victor turns out to be a nice man who helps the children in more ways than one.

When an old man gives The Thief Lord a special job, things begin to change. The task is to find the missing wing to a supposed magical Merry-Go-Round. The legend is that anyone who rides it can become either younger or older. When things go wrong, Bo finds himself captured by his aunt, The Thief Lord’s true identity becomes known (getting him ostracized by everyone), and the money they receive from the job turns out to be fake. Yet Prosper and The Thief Lord team up to complete the task so that they can ride the Merry-Go-Round and become adults who are in charge of their own lives. Their only hope is that the legend is true.

My thoughts:

I liked this one. I didn’t love it, but it was pretty good. The story definitely got more exciting about three-quarters of the way though. The characters were believable, the landscape and settings well described, and the situations fun to watch unfold (that is, in my mind’s eye). I would recommend it both to those who liked Cornelia Funke’s other books, and those who have never read anything by her before; the story stands strong on its own.

Things to consider:

Barnes & Noble lists this for ages 9 to 12. I agree with that, however I would expand the age group to include teens and adults. There are no sexual situations, coarse language, or extreme violence. Overall, a pretty clean tale.

Opportunities for discussion:

As the title indicates, theft is one of the central topics. As the reader, we are shown why the children stole: mainly to survive. However, most children are not under these extreme circumstances and should never have a reason to steal. Ask your children if they ever stole anything. If they are honest, they will probably say they did. Then ask them how it made them feel. Wait and listen. From there talk to them about using their desire to acquire things in a positive way rather than a negative one: such as doing chores around the house, waiting for Christmas, or mowing the neighbor’s lawn. You can also talk to them about contentment and the fruitless endeavors of obsessing over ‘things.’ It is important to instill these ideals into children no matter what age they are; it will greatly aid them in their adult life.

Igraine the BraveI checked out this book because I enjoyed the Inkworld/Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke.

Here are my past reviews of the trilogy:
1) Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 1)
2) Inkspell (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 2)
3) Inkdeath (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 3)

Story overview:

Soon to be twelve years old, Igraine eagerly awaits her birthday present. Even though she insists on being a knight, she doesn’t hesitate to accept gifts made from magic. Her mother, father, and brother worked on her gift with the help of some special magical books.

During the process, Igraine’s parents were accidentally turned into pigs. This wouldn’t be so bad except that (1) they could not use magic in pig form, (2) they needed giant’s hair in order to be turned back, and (3) their old castle suddenly fell under siege by a man named Osmond who took over the castle next-door. Osmond’s desire was to capture the magical books and become the most powerful wizard in the world.

Igraine goes on a quest to find giant hairs while her brother stays back at the castle to fend off the intruders (with the aid of the magic books and the castle’s defenses.) On her journey, Igraine comes in contact with the Sorrowful Knight of the Mount of Tears, and the two travel back to hopefully save the day.

My thoughts:

To be honest, after I started to read Igraine The Brave, I ended up putting it down and letting it sit on the pile for awhile. Why? Because the beginning forced a lot of explanatory narrative onto the reader, which in my opinion, is completely unnecessary. But once I got past that part, it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the story (I recommend starting with Chapter 1 and then going back to the preface once you have finished the book.) Wonderfully designed characters (especially the cat, Sisyphus,) a neatly designed fantasy world, fun personalities, great situations of tension, and the story is creatively magical. It is also easy to read and the writing style is of good quality. A great book for lovers of fairy tales.

Things to consider:

Great for girls and boys; ages nine to twelve (and younger if you read it to them.) No questionable content in the form of sexual situations, foul language, or dark themes. Even the violent scenes are quite tame. The one thing that may be considered disturbing to some children is when the knights get turned into fish and the cat has them for a light snack. Honestly, this is funny, but some children might take it seriously. Overall a great family book that is bound to become a favorite during story time.

Opportunities for discussion:

Part of the fun of this book is that it is not overly serious. However, in all stories, there is at least one good opportunity for discussion. One thing that stood out to me is the honor code of a knight. Ask your children to tell you the difference between the Sorrowful Knight and the Heartless Knight, and which they would rather be.

InkdeathIn the first book, Inkheart, we had twelve-year-old Meggie Folchart learn about her father’s amazing ability to read things out of books. Unfortunately one of these things was the evil Capricorn who captures her father in an attempt to force him to do his will. This story takes place entirely in the “real world.”

Next we had Inkspell, where Farid convinced Meggie to read them into the book “Inkheart” so that he could see Dustfinger again. Joining them shortly after is Mo and Teresa, who get there by means of Orpheus. They learn about The Adderhead and Mo is forced to make him immortal. This story takes place mostly in the “Inkworld.”

Now we have the conclusion to the Inkheart Trilogy. This tale takes place mostly in the “Inkworld,” but we jump back and forth to the “real world” to see what’s happening to Elinor and Darius.

Story overview:

Fenoglio may have stopped writing, but Orpheus has taken over where Fenoglio left off. However, the things Orpheus creates are less than ideal. The Folchart’s (Meggie, Mortimer & Teresa) are now living with the Black Prince and his gang of robbers, with Mo fulfilling the role of the Bluejay as the prince’s right-hand man. Farid on the other hand is working with Orpheus until the man can bring Dustfinger back from the dead.

Orpheus tricks Mo to call on The White Women and Mo finds himself making a deal with Death (who happens to be the same Death in all worlds) to kill The Adderhead whom he had made immortal. The price of failure is the death of him, his daughter, and Dustfinger whom was allowed to return to help with the task.

The Adderhead’s daughter, Violante helps Mo in an attempt to kill her tyrannical father. Things don’t work out as planned and it comes down to Fenoglio’s words verses Orpheus’s as they battle against each other from opposite sides of the kingdom.

My thoughts:

Having liked Inkheart, and even more so Inkspell, I was very disappointed with this one. I think the story is OK, it is just extremely drawn out in long and boring scenes, tons of back story, and the reader is in and out of so many character heads that it is bound to make our own head spin. It wasn’t until Chapter 25 that I actually started to get into the story, and then a few chapters later it started to lose me again. Cornelia did to Inkdeath what Paolini did to Brisingr, however I was less bored with Brisingr. That said, I still recommend reading it if you have started the series. It had a satisfying ending and filled in most of the loose ends. Keep in mind that some of my distastes may be coming more from the author in me than the reader in me.

Things to consider:

This story is quite a bit on the darker side than the other two. I would age rate this a little higher than the others (making it Teens instead of Tweens,) partly because of the presence of sexual references (such as Orpheus and his maids,) but mostly because I think it would bore a younger audience. Among the typical cursing from the other books, there’s a lot more death; some of them in disturbing scenes where children are brutally killed.

Opportunities for discussion:

Of course the theme of playing God and the problems therein still stands from the other books, but I also came away with a strong sense of: life is pain. It can seem a little depressing at times, but keep in mind that this is a good time to talk to your teen about pain and life. In the story, there’s a great feeling that in death there is great peace. Life is pain, to die is gain. A Bible verse comes to mind: Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” This is a good time to talk to your kids about the afterlife, and what you believe is the right path. Also talk to them about life on earth; how they are living in a fallen world. Tell them that there will be times of joy and times of sorrow, and that it is our mission to work and live the life we’ve been given as best we can. However, our longings are not in vein, as we were made for something better and will one day be home. Another discussion point could be about identify, and that we are who we are regardless of what other’s make of us or try to make us into.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 1)
2) Inkspell (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 2)

InkspellAfter reviewing Inkheart it’s only right for me to tell everyone about the next book in the series, Inkspell.

Where that story took place mostly in the real-world, this one takes place almost entirely in the fantasy one.

Story overview:

A year after the happenings of Inkheart, Meggie can’t help but to think of the magical world she only had a small glimpse of.

Farid convinces Meggie that going to the ink world is the best thing for them both to do, and so, with a voice perhaps even greater than her father’s, Meggie reads them there. By one way or another, Dustfinger, Basta, Mortola, Mortimer (Mo), and Resa all find themselves in this fantasy world.

If they thought Capricorn was bad, then that’s only because they had yet to meet the dreaded Adderhead; tyrant of the ink world.

Among the people from the real-world is Fenoglio, the author of Inkheart, who finds that he is less in control than he would like, and so he vows to put an end to the Adderhead. With Meggie’s voice and Fenoglio’s words, they try to put things right, only to find that perhaps their attempts simply make matters worse.

My thoughts:

I liked this book better than Inkheart, and I did really like Inkheart. There are a few places where I found the story dragged on, but I wasn’t disappointed by trudging through them.

Things to consider:

Meggie is older, and she falls in love with Farid. Nothing inappropriate there, but they do find themselves romantically involved (nothing beyond kissing). I’d say the rating and age group is the same as Inkheart, which would be around the pre-teens.

Opportunities for discussion:

Like the first book, this one questions whether or not one should take a hand at “playing god”. Talk to your children about dating, and what you believe is appropriate. Another good discussion point is about sacrifice, though I don’t want to mention why without you first reading the book.

inkheartThis is a book that was recently released as a movie. I can’t say anything for the movie, as I have yet to see it, but I can say that the book was very intriguing.

Story overview:

The events take place in a “real world setting” as a twelve-year-old named Meggie, who lost her Mom at a young age, lives with her Father, Mo, who happens to be a skilled bookbinder. They both love and enjoy reading books, however Mo insists on never reading Meggie a story out loud.

A strange man shows up at their house and his presence forces Meggie and Mo to flee their home. They stay with Meggie’s Aunt, Elinor, who is an avid book collector, but not one who is particularly fond of children.

Mo is captured by the men that, all these years he was trying to hide from, and the mysterious guest, Dustfinger, who acted like a friend, ended up being an accomplice to Mo’s abduction. However, Dustfinger comes to help Meggie and Elinor find where Mo was taken and they discover Mo’s hidden secret: when he reads a written story out loud, things, even people, come out of the pages. The only problem is that when something does, one thing from the real world also goes in.

The mystery of the disappearance of Meggie’s mother, Mo’s strange captors and Dustfinger’s motives for aiding the villains are all reviled. Several other mysteries are introduced and the relationships between the characters grow.

My thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It brought a unique touch to the fantasy genre, and did so without any major loopholes. The characters are interesting, particularly Dustfinger, and the story keeps you wanting to read more. See my thoughts on the similarities between this story and A Wrinkle in Time.

Things to consider:

There are some elements that could be considered frightening for younger children, but there are no inappropriate sexual references that I can recall. There are also a few mild curse words, mostly used by Aunt Elinor.

Opportunities for discussion:

This book can give you an excellent opportunity to discuss the consequences of toying with the lives of others for your own personal gain. It can also be a good time to let your kids know that the actions of heartless people only hurt those around them.

Other reviews in this series:

1) Inkspell (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 2)
2) Inkdeath (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 3)