Author: Kenneth Oppel
Pub. Date: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
From the acclaimed author of The Nest, The Boundless, and Airborn comes a brilliantly funny, breakout book about a boy who discovers an ink blot that’s come to life! Perfect for those who love Hoot and Frindle and sure to be a hit with kids everywhere!
The Rylance family is stuck. Dad’s got writer’s block. Ethan promised to illustrate a group project at school–even though he can’t draw. Sarah’s still pining for a puppy. And they all miss Mom. So much more than they can say.
Enter Inkling. Inkling begins life in Mr. Rylance’s sketchbook. But one night the ink of his drawings runs together–and then leaps off the page! This small burst of creativity is about to change everything.
Ethan finds him first. Inkling has absorbed a couple chapters of his math book–not good–and the story he’s supposed to be illustrating for school–also not good. But Inkling’s also started drawing the pictures to go with the story–which is amazing! It’s just the help Ethan was looking for! Inkling helps the rest of the family too–for Sarah he’s a puppy. And for Dad he’s a spark of ideas for a new graphic novel. It’s exactly what they all want.
It’s not until Inkling goes missing that this family has to face the larger questions of what they–and Inkling–truly need.
Kenneth Oppel has given us a small masterpiece of middle-grade fiction. Inkling is funny and fizzy and exciting, and brimming with the kind of interesting ideas and dilemmas that kids will love to wrestle with. And Sydney Smith is creating wonderfully inky illustrations to bring the story to vivid life. Get ready. A little ink blot is about to become your new favorite character!
Wow. I thought this book was just going to be a fun middle-grade book about an ink blob! It was so much deeper than that.
Ethan is struggling to draw for a class project when Inkling comes into his life. He is able to use Inkling to draw beautiful comics for the project, and he has made friends with the little blob. He loves feeding Inkling books and laughs at how the blob will “talk” after reading the different types of novels. Sarah, Ethan’s younger sister who has Down Syndrome, wants a puppy. When Inkling connects with her and forms itself into a puppy, Sarah immediately falls in love. Then, Ethan’s dad is able to use Inkling to get out of a drawing rut and start to work on his new graphic novel. Inkling helps the family but then is lost. How will Ethan, Dad, and Sarah survive without Inkling’s help?
This book discusses grief and its effects on a family. Ethan’s mother has died an unknown amount of time ago, and his family has been stuck ever since. Sarah has stopped making progress mentally and refuses to talk in the first person, even though she had been making progress when her mother was alive. Dad has been stuck in a drawing rut, and sometimes he barely gets out of bed. He doesn’t even function anymore without his morning cup of coffee. Ethan is trying to keep his family together by walking Sarah to school and making food when his dad can’t, but he is even feeling the strain. All of them need to heal, and Inkling seems to help them do just that. This was one of few middle-grade books that I have seen tackle serious issues realistically without making them the only “important” part of the story. Sure, the family had to learn to properly grieve for the mother, but they had fun with Inkling while they were at it.
I also thought that the issues the second family in the book had been very eye-opening. I don’t want to spoil anything because the family is important to the storyline. But they had a very unique dynamic and I wish there had been another story about them!
I would recommend this book to middle-grade fantasy lovers.
I received an advance copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I was born in Port Alberni, a mill town on Vancouver Island, British Columbia but spent the bulk of my childhood in Victoria, B.C. and on the opposite coast, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At around twelve I decided I wanted to be a writer. I started out writing sci-fi epics then went on to swords and sorcery tales and then, during the summer holiday when I was fourteen, started on a humorous story about a boy addicted to video games. Photo credit: Mark Raynes Roberts
3 winners will receive a finished copy of INKLING, US Only.
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