Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Nice Spot of Ink to Cure What Ails You

The Ink Drinker

by Eric Sanvoisen
Illustrated by Martin Matje

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2002

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the blog has been inactive since summertime. While we all truly love this blog, it is a labor of love that sometimes has to take the backseat to other calls of duty, be they work, school, fighting the zombie invasion, etc. That being said, I just couldn’t let October slip by without a post or two. If there was ever a time for some spooky reading, it has to be October. Here is my first selection to kick off some reading before Halloween!

One thing that I often struggled with when I was working as a Children’s Librarian was getting the reluctant reader to embrace reading. How do you motivate a child that says to you they simply don’t like reading?

After many creative strategies, I think suggesting this book could be another welcome tactic. The Ink Drinker by Eric Sanvoisen is an early chapter book suitable for 8-10 year olds. The tale, originally published in France, is mildly horrible, more bizarre than scary, so it is palatable to a wide audience from those who love vampire tales to those who love silly stories and/or strangeness.

The book begins with a simple and cruel irony. A boy who despises books with a book loving father finds himself stuck in his father’s book shop for the summer. The pain, the sorrow, the agony of being forced to work in a bookstore all summer is more than our protagonist can stand. To pass the time he hides in the shop, daydreams, and people watches. One day he notices a very odd customer. The customer, a pale stranger, practically floating (is he floating?) delicately carries a straw and slips it between the pages of books and slurps. The boy’s horrified gasp causes the stranger to flee. Upon inspection of the volume the stranger held the boy notices that all the pages have been wiped (drank?) clean of any ink, except just a letter or two. Shocked, yet painfully curious, the boy rushes after the stranger into the cemetery where he discovers Draculink, the ink drinking vampire. As the book unfolds the boy finds himself on a journey to explain the mysterious nature of ink drinking. When his father catches him drinking ink the reader realizes just how first-hand the boy’s journey has become.

The quick narrative, the accompanying illustrations, and the elegant strangeness of this tale prove to be strong temptations that would hook any reader. In addition to being a great standalone book, I was happy to learn this title is the first in a full Ink Drinker series. Hopefully this quirky vampire tale can get you in the Halloween spirit. Stay tuned for more upcoming posts!