“Inkling”, by Kenneth Oppel isn’t extraordinarily imaginative. However, while the idea may not be wholly creative, it’s still a fun read that helped rekindle some of my forgotten child-like wonder. The story of this ink-blob-come-to-life has the power to ping-pong in your brain, and make you look a little more suspiciously at blobs of ink. The ending genuinely surprised me, and I can’t help but wonder how Oppel will continue his ideas in the potential sequel.
I had many reactions while reading this novel. I chuckled, and then I very-nearly shed a tear, and then I gasped – in that order. While this book is geared towards children aged 9 and up, I would hesitate to read it comfortably, as is, with that age group. Ages 11 and up would be a better bet. However, if I were to read it to the younger audience (even ages 11 and up), I would change a few words along the way. Oppel uses some mild language that many families would consider disrespectful, or rude, if said aloud - such as: “idiot, dimwit, crap, stupid, jerk, freakin’, heck”. At one point, the main character refers to a child as a demon – in response to that child acting wildly during a birthday party. Now, keep in mind that any time words are taken out of context, they often seem much worse than they actually are. I don’t think that the use of these words warrants a book-boycott, but I do throw out a caution if reading this book aloud. Remember, you have the power to change these words to something that might suit your family’s vocabulary and values.
If you choose to read this book as a class novel study you’ll have to edit some of Oppel’s vocabulary, but you’ll also have tons of fun. The characters are funny and full of life, and Oppel’s themes offer excellent opportunities for text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world engagement. This book includes themes of friendship, family, grief, and honesty. Not only will your students have plenty to relate to, but you’ll also have the option of adding art and literature extensions to your novel study. The character of Inkling often speaks like other famous characters, such as the Big Friendly Giant, or Anne of Green Gables. To recap, this book is a fun read, but I would advise you “edit” along the way.
Check out our Student Novel Study for "Inkling"!