I finished reading Cornelia Funke's Igraine the Brave recently and felt that I simply must share my love for this book. It's a story about a 12-year old girl named Igraine who lives in a castle with her family of magicians, but she, herself, would rather be a knight.
Lamenting the fact that she'll be turning twelve soon, but has never had a proper adventure, Igraine soon gets her wish when something unexpected happens to her parents and she has to help make things right. Along the way, she meets creatures and characters that add interesting dimensions to this charming tale.
At its essence, this book contains the underlying morals you'd expect from a children's story, like: never giving up on your dreams, believing in yourself and being brave. Of course, being a tale about a girl who wants to be a knight, it also blends in the empowering message that girls should go ahead and do whatever it is they like, and that they can do them just as well (or even better than) boys.
In between the pages, some decorated with Funke's own lively line drawings, Igraine learns the valuable lesson that being brave and being stubborn aren't the same things. She also learns to curb her enthusiasm and anger, and most importantly perhaps, when to summon courage and ingenuity when they are needed most. This story also weaves in a tale about redeeming oneself when all seems to be lost.
I love these line drawings!
As a grown up, I enjoyed the story immensely. After a while, you start feeling like you're an adult companion coming along on Igraine's adventure, and you're looking out for this courageous, if rather impetuous, girl. I think parents will enjoy reading it to their children, as it teaches children that they should really try listening to grown ups now and again!
The story also bears few lessons for parents, reminding us that we should allow our children (daughters in particular) to express themselves and their interests, and that we must learn to let go of them, trust them, and allow them spread their wings. Otherwise, how else will they fly high?
I truly hope that boys will read this story too, as it's not just for girls. There's a caring and clever, if rather slightly annoying big brother in there, but I believe boys will be able to identify with Igraine's struggles all the same. Both boys and girls will also appreciate depictions of magic spells, a knight's honour and battle scenes, as they are captured in vivid detail in this book.
Igraine in her suit of armour with her cat Sissyphus.
This review as it appears on Venusbuzz.com: