Sunday, August 18, 2013

Writer's Block: Ike's Incredible Ink by Brianne Farley

Ike wanted to write an incredible story.

He had read many incredible stories and he felt sure he could write his own.

He was ready to start.

Like many accomplished readers, Ike thinks he can author a great story, too.

But as most of them discover when they sit down in front of that blank page, it's not as easy as it looks.

Ike is trying to write his first story, and he already has writer's block!

Maybe if he can find his favorite pen, the words will flow across the page. Much searching ensues. Perhaps a chat with a good friend will get him in the mood.   That done, Ike realizes that his untidy room must be the cause of his lack of focus.  A flurry of cleaning follows.

Inspiration does not.

An inkblot sort himself, Ike decides that what his writing lacks is the right ink for the job--not just any ink, but the darkest of inks--one made from the dusky hue of shadows, the feathers of a bird so unbelievably black that it might have inspired Poe to begin with "Nevermore." But what that ink really requires is a bit of blackness from the dark side of the moon!

Back from that trip, Ike mooshes and squooshes and fixes and mixes, even does a bit of treading like a peasant vintner, and finally throws it all into his blender.At last his ingredients are ready for that twirl and whirl which will surely yield inspirational ink.

Except that Ike forgets one important thing--the lid for the blender.

A splendiferous gush of blackness spills forth, almost engulfing Ike and his quarters, but Ike suddenly has an inkling of a great story, in Brianne Farley's debut tale, Ike's Incredible Ink (Candlewick Press, 2013). Ike sits down and with the dregs of his ink he begins to write.

Farley's artwork, inspired by drips and drabs of spilled ink, give form to her main character, a blobby shape which does not quite contain his inkiness, and her inventive use of blackness itself as part of the story is intriguing. Turning Ike's struggles to write into the story he does write is a device which youngsters will love, and her double-page spread of the super-sloshing ink spewing from the blender will be everyone's favorite page. As Publishers Weekly says, "Farley is a genuine talent, playing with detail, scale, and texture like a seasoned pro, giving her images a sweet, eccentric, comic rhythm."

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