by Cornelia Funke
I love Cornelia Funke. This love affair started with The Thief Lord, which I found on a "what to read while waiting for the next Harry Potter book" list and really enjoyed the imagery and imagination. I wanted to be with those kids, hiding from evil aunts, etc. Next came Inkheart which to this day is my favorite book. I've since read all the books that she has published (at least in English), including two picture books. She is one of the few authors that I will buy on site, even if I haven't heard anything about the book.
Igraine the Brave is a book aimed at a slightly younger crowd than Inkheart and Thief Lord, but I found it very enjoyable. Igraine is the 12 year old daughter of a couple of powerful magicians. Her older brother is also training to be a magician, but Igraine wants to be a knight. Not just any knight, but one that wins competitions and one that people will remember for generations.
Shortly after the story begins, Igraine and her family are warned by a friend that their castle will soon be under attack by an evil nephew of a neighbor. Igraine's parents decide to wait until after Igraine's birthday to worry about him though. Unfortunately, they turn themselves into pigs while finishing Igraine's birthday present. In order to reverse the spell, the magicians need some hair from the head of a giant, which they are unfortunately all out of. Igraine volunteers to fetch the hairs, and the adventure begins!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found Igraine an engaging heroine. She could really stand on her own and her friends only added to the fun. The addition of the Sorrowful Knight was a great way of including things that all honorable knights should know in an unpretentious manner. Everything just fits well together, and the silliness of the story doesn't necessarily feel silly. Somehow, it just works. Cornelia Funke has a way with words that always makes the the story feel so real for me. Also, I believe she sketched the artwork that appears throughout the book.