Inkling by Kenneth Oppel & illustrated by Sydney Smith

By Ben, 10 October 2022

Ben and I recently read Inkling (ages 8+), an imaginative and emotionally satisfying middle-grade novel by the author of the dark, gripping and suspenseful The Nest. We had a chat about it after breakfast.

M: So, can you tell me, in a nutshell, what Inkling is about?
B: It’s about a boy called Ethan and an ink splotch that comes to life called Inkling that draws things.
M: It’s like a fantasy story?
B: Kinda fantasy, kinda fiction? It’s suspenseful. Also well-written and funny in parts.
M: What sort of kid is Ethan? Is he like anyone you know?
B: [Thinking] No, he isn’t. He’s very protective of Inking though, so he’s a nice kid …
M: … and he’s also protective of his younger sister too, right?
B: Yeah, he’s really good at looking after his younger sister Sarah, he’s very kind to her and plays games with her and stuff. But then Sarah’s not annoying like my sister [knowing look] …
M: Ummm, let’s not bring your sister into this [rolling eyes]. Let’s get back to the story. So, this Inkling draws things …
B: Yeah, when Inkling goes onto pages in a book, all the words and pictures get sucked up into him, like he’s an eraser but more effective, and then he starts talking like the books he eats. So if he reads an old book, he’ll start speaking in old English like an old person.
M: Hmmm. Inking doesn’t have a mouth or eyes, does he? How does he talk?
B: He speaks by writing the words on paper or on any surface, but his one weakness is glass. He slips on glass so he can’t climb up the wall of a glass or a tank which is where he gets trapped by the bad girl …
M: No, no spoilers!
B: Oh, ok.
M: But there are bad people in this story?
B: Yeah, the main bad characters are Vika and her father. Vika is Ethan’s rival at school. She’s mean and sneaky but she’s also really good at drawing …
M: But Ethan’s not that good?
B: At the start of the story he isn’t, but then he gets good at it by the end.
M: If you had Inkling, what would you get him to do for you?
B: [No hesitation] If I had Inkling, I’d get him to do my homework and school for me.
M: Well, it’s a good thing you don’t have him then!

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