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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 Inkspell 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:
A year has passed, but not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of Inkheart, the book whose characters came to life. For the fire-eater Dustfinger, the need to return to the tale has become desperate. When he finds a crooked storyteller to read him back he abandons his apprentice Farid and plunges into the pages. Before long, Farid and Meggie are caught inside the book too. But the story is much changed—and threatening to end tragically.

List the most important events from Inkheart and review the characters on the pages before the opening of chapter one. Predict which characters will change the most in the pages of Inkspell.

Discussion Guide:

  1. Despite the reminders of the cruelty of Inkworld, Meggie feels compelled to go and see the wonders of it for herself. What does this tell us about her? Do you think she is being selfish or brave? Would you want to go with her or not?
  2. Dustfinger is happier than he was in the whole first book. Why? Have you ever returned after a long absence? What’s the best part of coming home? How is he received by those he loves? How does Dustfinger prove that he’s changed from his betrayal?
  3. What happened in Dustfinger’s world in his absence? Can you imagine missing ten years of your own life? Would you be as willing to forgive as Roxane?
  4. Describe Farid. What skills does he develop? How does he become a hero? Is he rewarded or punished for his devotion to Dustfinger?
  5. What mistakes does Fenoglio make? Who pays the price for his errors and miscalculations? Is he as important as he thinks he is? In the end, what does he vow? How does he lose control over his own story?
  6. Resa chooses to stay with Mo despite her opportunity to escape into her daughter’s arms. Do you agree with her choice or not? Is she loyal to a fault? How has her previous imprisonment changed her?
  7. How does Mortola try to exact revenge for her son’s, Carpricorn, death? How does Adderhead foil her plans? Does Basta serve Mortola? How are his attacks thwarted?
  8. Why is Inkworld so enchanting to those who read about it? What would you most like to see from Fengolio’s imagination? Are there any books that would tempt you to enter their world?
  9. Inkworld is full of fanciful characters, heroes and minor characters. Who would you most like to meet in person? Which would you least like to know? Why? How do authors make chracters seem real? Which character from Inkworld is most real to you?
  10. Describe the Castle of Night, Mount Adder and the surrounding landscape. Why do you think Funke decided to have the climax take place in this setting?
  11. How does Dustfinger try to cheat his fate? Does it work?
  12. Identity is a theme that is explored in this novel. How is Cosimo’s replacement different than expected? How is Mo’s identity merged with that of Bluejay? Does he become like him in any way?
  13. In the end, do you think Meggie and her family should travel back to Ombra or try to get home to Elinor’s house? Why?
  14. How do Meggie, Dustfinger, Farid, Mo and Resa end up back in Inkworld? Who would you willingly follow there?
  15. Blame is explored through several avenues in the book. Dustfinger blames Fengolio for his troubles, Roxane blames Farid for what happened to Dustfinger, Meggie feels responsible for what happened to Mo. Who deserves the blame? When is blame worthless?
  16. What is Fengolio’s plan to get his story back under control? How does Meggie become a part of it? Do you think writers ever have the sensation that they’re losing control of their stories as they write them? Have you ever felt this as you’ve created something?
  17. “Words were useless. At times they might sound wonderful, but they let you down the moment you really needed them.” (p. 264) Have you ever felt this way before? How did words both save and betray characters in the story? How are words quite powerful in this story and in your own life story?
  18. Why is Mo commissioned to create a blank book? What powers does it have? How is it proven to be true? What has Mo done to insure that its owner shall not keep his awful power? Has he risked too much to save himself?
  19. Adderhead is manipulated by debilitating fear of what? What are you most afraid of? Which characters are able to act despite their fear? Is this bravery?
  20. Which character do you think changes the most over the course of the novel? How do they change?


Language arts:
Create a chart of characters and detail the following information: a description in your own words, their motivation (or what they want), the obstacles and challenges they face, and the outcome (or in the end…)

Good readers stay involved in a story by constantly making predictions based on their knowledge of the characters, the previous events in the story, their understanding of the genre (or how stories work), and any clues the author has dropped for the reader to find. So, as a great reader at the end of each chapter write a prediction about what you think will happen next to that character. List any clues given that make you believe this.

Read one of the books mentioned in the story or quoted at the beginning of a chapter. What do you think Cornelia Funke learned about writing by reading this story? What have you, as a writer, learned that you can apply to your next piece?

Review the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Which one is your favorite? Why? Find five quotes from your own favorite stories or authors. Write a short narrative inspired by the quote.

Study the nature of fire. What are its properties? How is it controlled or stopped? Are there any positive results from its appearance in a landscape?

Draw, sculpt, paint or otherwise depict your favorite scene from the novel. In a brief artist’s statement describe why you chose this particular scene and the materials in your piece.

Reread page 250 concerning written verses oral language and debate the issue. Which do you think is most powerful? Do you agree with Balbulus, “Only the written word is eternal” or are you more convinced by Fenoglio on oral storytelling that, “A story wearing another dress every time you hear it—what could be better?”

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