June 17, 2008

Once Upon A Time II Challenge Completed!

With these last two books, I complete the Once Upon A Time II Challenge.

I only have one regret: that I didn't complete more. I had in mind to read At The Back of The North Wind by George MacDonald, as well as Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage, but as I have to go back into school both Wednesday and Thursday that isn't going to happen any time soon.

I read both Horns and Wrinkles, and Inkheart, to my class as the last two books of the year. I happened to see a child reading Horns and Wrinkles, and I recognized the illustrator from a post which Carl had written. Feeling very up-to-date about my fantasy knowledge (alas, a fleeting feeling), I ordered it on amazon.com and read it to the class.

The basic premise is this: the bully cousin grows a horn from the center of his forehead, much like Pinnochio's nose, every time he does something unkind. A good premise to use for instruction in the elementary classroom. However, the author then proceeded to foray into complicated paths involving a river under a spell, and trolls who must find their fathers before they're turned into stars, and all kinds of nonsense which frankly annoyed me to pieces. This book? I'd give it .3 of a star out of 5.

Inkheart, though, has to be one of my favorite books for the year. I've read other works by Cornelia Funke such as The Thief Lord, and my class has long recommended The Dragon Rider, but Inkheart is a must read for any literature lover.

Imagine a situation where characters can be read to life. This is exactly what happens when Silvertongue, Meggie's father, reads aloud. In fact, he read her mother out of our world, and several miscreant characters from the book into it. This story has something for everyone: imagery, danger, quests, piercing dialogue, and a setting of southern Italy which reads as if you are experiencing the action yourself.

Funke's characters are drawn so completely that we can easily envision each one, particularly Aunt Eleanor in her baggy sweater and tights, whose house is filled floor to ceiling with books. Or, Dustfinger who plays with fire and longs to re-enter his more familiar world of fiction. Or, the evil Capricorn who leads the tribe of villians obeying his every whim.

Best of all, is how each chapter opens with an excerpt from a book you have probably read and loved. We find Arab proverbs opening Chapter 7:
"A thousand enemies outside the house are better than one within"

and William Goldman's The Princess Bride opening Chapter 10:

"Look. (Grown-ups skip this paragraph.) I'm not about to tell you this book has a tragic ending. I already said in the very first line how it was my favorite of all the world. But there's a lot of bad stuff coming."

What an appropriate way to end the review of Inkheart. You'll have to find out for yourself the bad stuff that comes, and hopefully make your way on to Inkspell, its sequel, before Inkdeath is published this October.

And so, with these eight books, I reluctantly wrap up this year's Once Upon A Time challenge. Thank you, Carl, for without your impetus I'd not have become so familiar with such marvelous works of fantasy (let alone artists such as 27 year old Anne-Marie Aubry). Fortunately, I have a wealth of other books from the challenge site with which to continue the adventures.

Books I completed are:


  1. Congrats Bellezza!!! You really liked these chalelnges! Heh! Congrats! Weeeeeeeeeee!

  2. congratulations of finishing the challenge!

    I am in love with cornelia funke and the inkheart series (have also read the Thief Lord and Dragonrider) I am soooo loooking forward to Inkdeath! I hope you get to read Inkspell because it's every bit as good as book one

  3. Daydream, I do like challenges, but even better is completing them for the compulsive side of me. I really get a feeling of accomplishment. Have you started Inkheart? What do you think?

    Deslily, I can't wait to open Inkspell! I received it as a teacher gift this Spring, and I definitely want to finish it in anticipation of Inkdeath's release. I'm also anxiously awaiting Inkspell's release in film with Hellen Mirren. It's nice to have your comment here.

  4. I know! Inkheart is number 4 on my Herding Cats Challenge and well I am on number 3 "Jane Eyre". I think that next month I may be able to start on that. However knowing that I have the official three almost read is wow for me. Now I have three more.

  5. Congratulations! Doesn't it feel good everytime you get one of these challenges wrapped up? :-)


  6. Congrats on completing the challenge. I had hoped to read another one or two but did finish the required 5. So many books calling to me but I do hope to get to Inkheart before too long.

  7. Congrats Bellezza!!!! I can't wait to read Inkheart...I still have it sitting in my pile. I've read about 100 good reviews and only 1 bad one. So I'm sure I'll love it!

  8. Congrats on completing the challenge! You express the same regrets I have in that I didn't get through more books that I did. Oh well, there is always next time...

    Thank you so much for your participation, I really appreciate it!

  9. Congratulations on finishing the challenge! I have Inkheart here to read at some point this year. It's good to know that you enjoyed it :)

  10. What a great list of books! Congrats on finishing the challenge--I hope to finish tonight with Midsummer Night's Dream.

  11. heather (errantdreams)June 19, 2008

    I love your write-ups of those two... Inkheart sounds so appealing!

  12. Oh I agree. This is a great list of books. The only problem I see is that now my tbr list has grown. I have read the C. S. Lewis, but the other titles are new to me. You make Inkheart sound wonderful. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  13. Hi, all. I'd have liked to respond to each one of you as your comments came in, but I was doing Curricula work at district office today and yesterday. We had a fascinating time talking about writing, which I perhaps I can write a brief post about when everything synthesizes. Until then, if you do pick up Inkheart, I doubt very much you'll be disappointed.

    The other titles I especially liked were Roverandom and 'Til We Have Faces.

  14. Good job, Bellezza!! I've heard such good things about Inkheart. I'll have to add it to my list. :)

  15. Les, I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did. It just makes you want to live as Aunt Eleanor does: COVERED in books. Wait a minute, we do that already, don't we...