Emma and the Blue Genie by Cornelia Funke, illustrations by Kerstin Meyer
Emma often spends her nights out by the sea with her dog, away from her pesky brothers. One night she finds a bottle floating in the waves and opens it to discover Karim, a very small blue genie inside. Karim has had most of his magic stolen away when Sarim, the huge yellow genie, stole his nose ring and trapped him in the bottle. Now Karim has to head back to avenge himself and to save the kingdom from the evil rule of Sarim. Emma decides to go with him and she sets off aboard his magic carpet for the kingdom of Barakash. There, she is quickly caught up in the battle against Sarim, but once he sees her yellow hair, he immediately takes her prisoner. There’s not much that a girl can do to escape from an evil genie who keeps you in a cage, but all is not lost when you have a blue genie and a brave dog on your side!
Funke has written a wonderfully original book for young readers. The Middle Eastern setting comes alive as Emma walks through the busy castle on her way to see the young king. Funke incorporates many references to the desert into people’s vernacular, even more firmly setting this book in a specific place. Emma is a great female character, filled with plenty of gumption and not scared of much. She doesn’t shrink away from anything in the book, enjoying flying on a magic carpet, seeing new places and having wild adventures.
The illustrations are in full color and add a lot of life to the book. Used differently from one page to the next, they add a dynamic piece to the book design. The differences between the two genies could not be more clearly shown, with the calm blue and the wild yellow. Meyer also manages to show the opulence without things becoming too busy and overwhelming for the eye.
Fun and original, this book will share aloud well with a class and will be an inviting pick for children reading chapter books. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from e-galley received from Random House Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss.