Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Monday, January 11, 2010


Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Children's Author & Literacy Specialist

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Inkheart by Cornelia Funke


About the Trilogy:

Cornelia Funke weaves an epic adventure of a family with an extraordinary gift. Meggie has inherited her father’s ability to bring a book to life by reading it aloud. Unfortunately this also means being transported into a world of evil kings, greedy villains, and voracious monsters.  While Mo and Meggie try to figure out a way to save Resa, Meggie’s mother, from the world where she has been enslaved they become entrenched in the lives of the people of Ombra. In the following sequels Mo, Meggie and Resa try to unseat the unjust and cruel kings who enslave children and punish innocents for their pleasure. A vibrant cast of characters and beings—blue fairies, glass men, and giants, to name a few, have sprung to life out of Fenoglio’s, the author of Inkhearts’, imagination to help the heroes along their way.  Slip into the magical world of Inkheart and lose yourself in one of the most imaginative worlds children’s literature has ever known.


About the Author

About the author:
Cornelia Funke was born in Dorsten, Germany in 1958. She graduated from the University of Hamburg with a degree in educational theory. After studying illustration at the Hamburg State College of Design, she worked as a designer of board games and as an illustrator of children’s books, which inspired her to become an author herself. Her own illustrations grace the pages of The Thief Lord, Inkheart, and many of her other books.

Funke has written over forty books, including the highly acclaimed Dragonrider and Wild Chicks series, and her books have been translated and sold worldwide. The Thief Lord has won the Swiss Youth Literature Award, the Zurich Children’s Book Award, and the Book Award from the Venice House of Literature. After its American release it received the ALA Mildred L. Batchelder Award for the best translated children’s book of the year, the American Booksellers Association Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children’s Literature and several other accolates. Funke’s success in America has been matched internationally, demonstrating the universal appeal—and power—of her storytelling. Cornelia Funke lives in Los Angeles, California with her family.


Other Books by Cornelia Funke

The Thief Lord.  Scholastic, 2002
A bumbling detective, a mysterious boy who calls himself the Thief Lord, an adventurous woman, a greedy antique dealer, and a gang of orphans living in an abandoned theater in Venice all find themselves embroiled in the search for a magical merry-go-round.





About the Book

Mortimer is a bookbinder and has passed on his great love of books to his daughter Meggie, but he has never read aloud to her. When a stranger named Dustfinger appears at their home, Meggie’s world turns upside down. She soon learns some startling truths – about her mother’s disappearance nine years earlier, and the mysterious book called Inkheart that her father tries desperately to hide at the book-filled home of Elinor, Meggie’s great aunt.  She learns that the reason Mo has never read aloud to her is because he has a secret, mysterious, dangerous gift – when he reads aloud, objects and charaters come out of the books – a skill he discovered when Capricorn, the dark villain of Inkheart, came into the world when Meggie was three. Teresa, Meggie’s mother, disappeared at the same time, presumably into the story.

Capricorn uses Dustfinger, who is another character from the story, to lure Mo and Meggie to his hideout village; there Meggie sees a demonstration of her father’s reading skill when he brings gold treasure out ofTreasure Island and a young Arab boy out of the Arabian Nights. When Dustfinger learns Capricorn’s true plans, he helps Mo, Meggie, and Elinor escape over the hills. Mo searches out Fenoglio, the author of the book, and together they devise a plan to foil Capricorn’s terrible schemes. But Meggie is recaptured along with Fenoglio, and Capricorn discovers that she, too, has the same magical gift.  In a rousing finish, Fenoglio and Meggie find a way to foil Capricorn’s plans – with surprising results.


Discussion Points


1.  Why does Mo keep his ability a secret from Meggie? Why has he never told her the truth about her mother?

2.  Why doesn’t Dustfinger read the ending of the story when he has the chance in Meggie’s bedroom? What stops him?

3.  Does Elinor like books more than people? Has she truly been happy living alone with all her books? How does Elinor change in the course of the story, and what causes her to change?

4.  In what ways does Basta’s superstitious nature affect him and others in the story? Why is Basta so superstitious?

5.  Why does Farid follow Dustfinger? Why does Dustfinger keep trying to get away from Farid? What does Dustfinger mean when he says he has often just been a spectator?

6.  When Meggie and Fenoglio are taken to Capricorn, why isn’t Fenoglio afraid? What do you think it would feel like for an author to see his characters in real life? Does Fenoglio ever fear the characters from the book as much as the others do?

7.  When does Meggie first realize that her mother is alive and no longer trapped in the story? What do you think it was like for Teresa to be trapped in the book?

8.  Fenoglio says he was very proud of writing about the Shadow when he wrote Inkheart, so he knows the passage by heart. How does he feel about the Shadow coming to life? Does he really believe he can change the story’s ending?

9.  Why do Basta and the Magpie remain when the other characters disappear?

10.  Why did Fenoglio disappear at the end? Did he go into the book? If so, do you think he planned this? Was it his curiosity about the world of his creation, or was it an accident?


1.  Why does Meggie feel more at home in Mo’s van than in their house?

2.  What do we learn of Elinor’s character from the description of her home?

3.  In how many ways did Capricorn make the village where he lives his own? How was it possible for him to create such a hideout in the “real world”?

4.  Why did so many of the characters decide to stay in Capricorn’s village at the end?


1.  How many secrets can you identify in the story? How does keeping a secret affect a character’s life and interaction with others? What does Meggie mean when she says, “Why do grownups think it’s easier for children to bear secrets than to bear the truth?”

2.  The theme of truth and lies occurs throughout the story. Find examples of times when one character lies to another. Are there times when it is better not to know the truth? When are lies used for good reasons and when are lies used to hurt people? What is the difference between a lie and a secret?

3.  Fire represents many things to many people in this story. What is the meaning of fire to Dustfinger? Basta? Capricorn? Mo? Farid? Elinor?

4.  Fear is a strong motivating force in this story. Who is motivated by fear? Which characters use fear to control others? Discuss ways in which certain characters control and overcome their fears.

5.  What is the author saying about the power of imagination in this tale? How does Mo bring imaginative things to life? Why can’t he control the people that come to life through his reading? What is the difference between reality and imagination?

6.  Mo tells Meggie that “Most people don’t stop to think of books being written by people much like themselves. They think that writers are all dead long ago. . .” Do you think this is true? Is Mo more connected to Fenoglio’s story than the author himself? Are you aware of the author when you are reading a book?

Discussion guide written by Connie Rockman, children’s literature consultant and adjunct professor of literature for children and young adults at the University of Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University, and editor of The Eighth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators (H. W. Wilson, 2000).


To order Inkheart (0-439-53164-0, $19.95) by Cornelia Funke, contact your local bookstore or usual supplier.  Teachers and librarians may call toll-free 1-800-SCHOLASTIC.  Prices and availability subject to change.

Also available by Cornelia Funke:  The Thief Lord (Hardcover, 0-439-40437-1, $16.95;  Paperback, 0-439-42089-X, $6.99).

Inkheart and The Thief Lord are both available as audiobooks from Listening Library, a division of Random House Audio.

Email Tracie?  TVZIMMER (at) MAC (dot) com