27 February 2009

Review: Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke

My Summary. On the eve of her twelfth birthday, Igraine of Pimpernel Castle dreams of being a brave and noble knight. Unfortunately, her parents and brother are magicians and don't fully understand her passion. Nevertheless, they are indulgent, and Igraine has been able to spend some time practicing her sword fighting with a magical strawman. She has even sneaked over to a neighboring castle to ride a steed worthy of a knight.

Igraine may get her wish of becoming a knight, but not in the manner in which she had always dreamed. A nearby castle has been taken over by a evil magician who is supported by his invincible protector. They plan to attack Igraine's home and steal her parents' magic books. Normally this wouldn't be a problem because the spells protecting Pimpernel Castle are strong. But as luck would have it, Igraine's parents bungle an incantation at just the wrong moment. They turn to their young daughter, who must now slip past the enemy and venture into the forest to find the one thing that will save their home.

My Thoughts. First, I have to admit that I picked up the audio version of Igraine the Brave because it was short and was available as a digital download from my library. I had forgotten that the Cornelia Funke challenge ends tomorrow, and I was running out of time to start and finish the last book by the deadline. The good news is that this is an utterly charming tale of knights, giants, magicians, and dragons.

The book is written for a bit younger audience than I'm used to, but there is much to like about the story. Most important is the way our hero is depicted. Igraine is just twelve years old, but she is strong willed, kind, and brave. Her character is also fairly realistic in the sense that she squabbles with her brother, doesn't always listen to her parents, and needs the help of adults. The principal message of the story is that the characteristics that make up a true knight are not gender limited or determined by age. This would be a perfect book for a fourth- or fifth-grade girl.

The rest of us, including young boys, will enjoy getting to know the assorted characters and accompanying Igraine on her adventures.

The audio was narrated by Xanthe Elbrick, who did an excellent job with pacing and differentiating among the characters. The inflections used for the spirited Igraine is as believable as those used for the male adults. A look at some of the commercial websites revealed that the book is illustrated with many small pen and ink drawings. I think they would have added to the joy of reading this quick tale.

I read this book for a number of challenges (listed below). To learn more about a challenge and to see what others are reading, click on the title in the sidebar.

Paperback published by Scholastic, 2007
ISBN-13: 9780439903790
Challenges: Cornelia Funke, A-Z Title, 999, Support Your Library, Audiobooks, 100+
YTD: 18
Rating: B

Other Reviews
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Molly 2/27/09, 7:07 AM  

Nice review. I have not yet read any of Funke's works, but I did pick up Inkheart and Inkspell a couple of weeks ago. I am hoping to read at least one of those over spring break.

You are so very organized in keeping track of books read for challenges. I may have organized bookshelves, but I still do not have a system for the challenges.

Ana S. 2/27/09, 7:26 AM  

The cover art is so cute! That's been more or less my experience with Funke so far...you can definitely tell her books are children's books, and I tend to prefer the kind of children's books adults can get a little something extra out of. Still, they're fun stories, and it sounds like this is no exception! And stories about not being limited by gender are always stories I welcome.

Ladytink_534 2/27/09, 7:36 AM  

It's been so long since I read a Cornelia Funke book. She's really a great author though!

Sandy Nawrot 2/27/09, 8:17 AM  

I have recently recognized that I need to pay closer attention to reviews of potential books for my kids. I also have the ability to influence during my hours volunteering at their library. This one would be perfect for my daughter, who's in 5th grade. She is a big fan of Funke, having read the Ink series, and now is reading another (Dragon Rider? Something like that.). It sounds magical!

Nely 2/27/09, 8:44 AM  

I agree with Nymeth - the cover art is amazing. As for the book, it sounds fun. I myself recently realized that I wanted to read 4 CF books for the challenge but only got through 3. Blah - I just haven't been able to make myself read Inkdeath yet.

bermudaonion 2/27/09, 10:52 AM  

I love the cover too and wonder if the book is illustrated like that. Great review.

The Tome Traveller 2/27/09, 11:53 AM  

I do like Cornelia Funke but haven't read this one yet, it sounds like a fun story!

Anonymous,  2/27/09, 12:35 PM  

I've been looking for something like this for my fourth grade granddaughter who is also strong-willed, kind and brave. I love that the knight can be a female. She will love it too. I confess to not being familiar with the author (other than to read the Ink reviews) but I obviously need to correct that. Thanks for your tip and a great review.

Anna 2/27/09, 1:52 PM  

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. It sounds perfect for my daughter!

Diary of an Eccentric

Michele 2/27/09, 8:28 PM  

I am going to go buy this one for my daughter. I know, she's only a year old, but I want her to read this someday. (And of course that's a good excuse for me to buy this one and read it!)

Unknown 2/27/09, 9:05 PM  

Hmm...for some reason I thought I had another month to complete this challenge. I wonder if I can read Inkdeath by March 1?

Beth F 2/28/09, 6:35 AM  

I do highly recommend this book for any young girl (even 1 year olds!). And it is a charming tale, just a bit on the young side for an adult.

Laza: LOL! That's exactly what happened to me! But on Wednesday I looked at my challenge list and had an EEEK!!! moment!

Wendi 3/1/09, 6:26 PM  

Beth, this book sounds like a lot of fun - I'm going to ask my niece if she has read it yet!

:) Wendi

Cindy B 3/21/09, 1:11 AM  

The pictures look charming! I enjoyed Funke's other books, but I haven't read this one.

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