Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Monday, January 11, 2010


Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

About the book:

While Elinor pines for her family trapped in Inkworld they struggle to survive in a world that is ruled by chaos and cruelty. When Mo bound mortality for Adderhead inside a book he thought it would soon be destroyed by his clever insertion of every books worst enemy: water. But the Adderhead lives, though he is deteriorating like the book that keeps him alive. Frustrated, he threatens the children of Ombra with slavery if Mo does not restore the white book. But Mo is busy acting out the epic and heroic battles of Bluejay whose identity he has claimed as his own. Resa (expecting their child) and Meggie are conflicted about staying in Inkworld with the violence and cursed rulers. Will the self-serving Orpheus stop counting his silver long enough to bring Dustfinger back to help rid the world of Adderhead? Can Fengolio ever forgive himself for creating so many fatherless children in Ombra?  Will Mo sacrifice himself so the children of Ombra may live free? Read the stunning conclusion to the Inkheart trilogy to find out!

Discuss the ending of Inkspell. What was resolved? What questions remain open? Who is in power? Predict what Mo and his family will do.

Discussion guide:

  1. How does Elinor feel being left behind with her book? Does she still derive pleasure from their company? Eventually what does her misery convince Darius to do? How are they welcomed to Ombra? What is it like for Elinor to experience adventure rather than read about it?
  2. Why and how does Mo adopt the persona of the Bluejay? How would you feel if he was your father or husband? Should he go on such dangerous missions?
  3. Explain how Orpheus is getting by in the Inkworld. Is he clever or cruel? Why does he have so much power? Why won’t Fenoglio stop him from changing his world? Why does Farid serve him?
  4. When Mo visits the castle in Ombra he is captured by Her Ugliness. What is he surprised to learn from her? Can he escape? How? Did his curiosity nearly kill him?
  5. Mo’s family is divided on whether to abandon Inkworld for the safety of home or try to influence the outcome of the story. Which characters want what? How has this changed from the previous books? With whom do you agree? Why? Was Resa wrong to ask Fenoglio and Orpheus to write them home without their permission?
  6. “After all, that is what you wanted from books: great emotions you’d never felt yourself, pain you could leave behind by closing the book if it got too bad.” (p.109) Do you agree? What else do you want from a book? How does the Ink trilogy have it?
  7. How does the Piper threaten the children of Ombra? Does this lead to Mo’s capture or not? Describe the scene where Mo sacrifices himself for the children.
  8. Did you consider Orpheus a villain in the previous Inkheart books? Does he become one during this story? What are the qualities of a good villain? Does he have ultimate power in this story?
  9. Describe the character, Death and the realm she rules. What threat or bargain does she make with Mo? Why is she so angry with him? Explain what happens when Mo visits her kingdom.
  10. How was Dustfinger changed by his time with the White Women? What new skills and abilities did he bring back with him? Which would you most like to see or do? What actions prove his loyalty once and for all?
  11.  What motivates Her Ugliness? Where do her loyalties lie? Do her actions ever surprise you? How? Why does she move Bluejay to her family’s castle? Do you think she is capable of cruelty?
  12. How does Mortola reappear in this story? What effects does she have on the events? Is she rewarded for her treachery? What magpie magic ends up serving Resa? How?
  13. How has Meggie changed from the previous novels? Her feelings for Farid, too, change over the course of the book. Why? Do you think she will ever decide to leave Inkworld or not? Which world would you choose? Why? How does she serve the children of Ombra? Does this make her a hero as well?
  14. “A reader doesn’t really see the characters in a story; he feels them.” (p. 358) Do you agree? How do imagine the characters in the story? What feelings do each of them evoke in you? Which character is your favorite? Why?
  15.  At the castle in the lake the windows are replaced by “painted views of a world that didn’t exist” (p. 410) Do you think some people like to live this way- pretending that the world is different than what it is? Is our reliance on television and pretend families similar to the Castle in the Lake?
  16. Orpheus’s allegiance is quite malleable. Why? Do you ever change your own allegiance to those you think will win? What is the danger of these shifts? Is Orpheus a good villain? Do villains always believe they are more clever than everyone else?
  17. Fenoglio struggles with writer’s block and guilt for the way Inkspell ended. What do you do when you feel like you have nothing to write? In the end, how does he find his voice again? He admits that he is a vain old man. Is he justified in his vanity or not?
  18. Describe the events at the human nests. How do they come to find them? What dangers still lurk despite their location? Who do they call upon to aide them in the battle against the Milksop’s men? How is this not exactly what they expected?
  19.  Explain the series of events that unfold at the Castle in the Lake by creating a timeline of events from the time Mo, Dustfinger and Her Ugliness arrive there.
  20. In the end what becomes of Meggie and her family? Are all the villains disposed of or not? Do the heroes get the outcome they deserve? What happens to Mo’s family?


Language Arts:
Review the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Which one most makes you want to read the book? Why?

Write a scene that is five years after the close of the novel. Reveal what has happened to your favorite character and their worst enemy in the style of Cornelia Funke.

Write a letter from Meggie to her little brother about the differences between Inkworld and home.


Understanding the relationship between cause and effect can help a reader understand the connections between character motivations and events. Create a chart that traces the causes and effects of the major events in the story.

With a partner or small group write a reader’s theater script for your favorite scene in the book. Perform it for your class.

Mold destroys the entire library at the Castle on the Lake. Research the properties of mold and its effects on property and people’s health.

Produce a commercial or book trailer for the whole Inkheart trilogy. Entice readers into the story with your understanding of the series without giving away anything! Share with your class or upload to the internet.


Design the costumes for five of the characters in the novel. Think about the color, texture, and style of each design (you may want to explore swatches in a fabric store, which are usually free if you ask). Make notes on any extraordinary make-up that would be necessary for your costume to convince an audience as well.

Trilogy discussion:

  1. How does Meggie change over the course of the trilogy? Do you see her as the heroine of all three tales?
  2. What place in Inkworld would you most like to visit? Which fantastical creature would you most like to see?
  3. If you had Mo and Meggie’s gift what book would you read aloud and visit for yourself? Would you be able to resist the temptation and not visit another world?
  4. Which of the three novels is your favorite? Why?
  5. Have you read any other novels by Cornelia Funke? How do they compare to this trilogy?
  6. By studying Funke’s writing what can you learn and apply to your own next writing piece?
  7. How would you summarize the trilogy in a few sentences to a friend who was interested in learning more?
  8. Which villain in the series do you think is the most frightening: Capricorn, Mortola, the Adderhead, Orpheus, the Piper. Why?
  9. Which scene in the trilogy are you most likely to reread? Why?
  10. In the end did Funke leave any room for an additional title or not? How did you feel about the conclusion to the trilogy?

This guide was created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, a reading specialist and award-winning children’s author. Visit her website to find hundreds of guides to children’s literature.

Books Mentioned in Inkheart

1001 Arabian Nights (Oxford Story Collections), retold by Geraldine McCaughrean. Oxford, 2000.
These stories told by the wily Shaharazad to save her life are full of adventure, treasure, magic, and heroism.

Barrie, Sir James Matthew.  Peter Pan. (Scholastic Classics)  Scholastic, 2002.
Peter Pan, aided by his companion Tinker Bell, is the leader of the Lost Boys in Neverland who battle the wicked Captain Hook and his pirates.

Ende, Michael.  The Neverending Story. Puffin, 1996
Bastian Balthazar Bux enters the enchanted world of Fantastica through the pages of an ancient and mysterious book to rescue the fairy people who live there.

Goldman, William. The Princess Bride.  Ballantine, 1990.
A story of love, hatred, giants, dwarves, courage, cowardice, revenge, escape, truth, lies, fantastical beasts, and a satisfying end.

Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings.  HarperCollins, 1974.
Silverstein’s poems about everything from unicorns to television sets are characterized by sly humor and insight that have delighted countless readers.

Stevenson, Robert Louis.  Treasure Island (Scholastic Classics)  Scholastic, 2001.
This classic tale of Jim Hawkins’ adventures on the high seas with the villainous Long John Silver has been a favorite of many generations.

White, T. H.  The Sword in the Stone, illus by Dennis Nolan. Philomel, 1993.
Merlin oversees the education of the Wart, who will grow up to become Arthur, the Once and Future King of Britain.

Related Reading

Crossley-Holland, Kevin.  The Seeing Stone.  Scholastic, 2001.
A boy named Arthur, living in 13th century England, watches a story unfolding in a magic stone – the story of the birth and growth of his namesake, the great legendary King of Britain.  His story continues in At the Crossing Places (Scholastic, 2002).

Mahy, Margaret.  The Great Piratical Rumbustification & the Librarian and the Robbers.     David R. Godine, 2001.
Imagine having a gang of pirates as your babysitters or a librarian who can charm bloodthirsty bandits by reading aloud to them.

Sanvoisin, Eric.  The Ink Drinker.  Delacorte, 1998
A boy watches a weird man in his father’s bookstore silently sipping the words out of the books; following him to a nearby graveyard, he discovers that the ghoulish stranger is a vampire who lives on ink rather than blood. 
Townley, Roderick.   The Great Good Thing.  Atheneum, 2001.
12 year old Princess Sylvie breaks out of the book in which she is a character and into the dreams of her Reader, leading other characters to a new existence where they have to make up their own story, and remind the girl who loves them of the importance of their story.