Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke.
Released October 2007.
I am always amazed that Funke can create the dark fantasy of her Inkspell series and then produce such a friendly, silly book like this! Her picture books are also great examples of silly books for even younger children.
Igraine is the daughter of two famous magicians and her brother is studying to be a magician too. But Igraine is not interested in all of the memorization that goes into being a magician. She is much more interested in becoming a knight. One might think that being the daughter of magicians would be exciting, but Igraine is so bored by it all. Even the water snakes in the moat, the stone lions that roar warnings, and the gargoyles that can eat fire arrows don’t hold any interest. That is until Osmund the Greedy takes over the castle next door and starts to attack, trying to get the magic books from her parents. Now Igraine’s own courage is tested as she sets out to find the ingredients her parents require after a magical mishap.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the story, because it is so very delightful to discover on your own. This is a light-hearted fantasy with a strong female heroine who stands easily on her own two feet. Igraine is a welcome heroine, but I also enjoyed the way her older brother is portrayed and her parents as well. And we must talk about the wonderful line drawings that Funke has created to go with the story. They add a vividness and whimsical nature to the book.
The writing is humorous, accessible, and will suit children in third grade and up. There is enough danger to keep the story interesting, but not enough for it to be of any concern for parents of younger children. So if you have a child who is reading early, this may be just the book that they would enjoy. Even first and second graders reading at a higher level would find the story accessible and fun. It could also be used as a read-aloud in a younger classroom and will be filled with enough action to keep everyone interested.