If you believe that children's books are just for children, then you are wrong. Not just a little wrong, but a lot of wrong. It only takes reading a book like the Harry Potter series or Inkheart to make you realize that there's something so inherently compelling, beautiful and imaginative about those stories-- and if you are missing out on those, you're missing out on real literature.
I believed that children's books were meant for children once, too. Even though I've been a fan of children's books since I began with them as a kid myself, and though I knew the incredible effect they had on me growing up, I still turned my back on them once I considered myself an adult (which, let's be honest, anyone that knows me knows that I am not particularly prone to being high and mighty or adult-like). But when I started working at the library, and children's books began to catch my eyes again (because who can deny the luscious artwork that lives on the covers of children's books?), I decided that I would read them again so that I could help children find good books to read. I was kidding myself. I wanted a good book to fall into, but thought I was doing it for the kids. Well that good book is exactly what I found in Cornelia Funke's Inkheart.
Cornelia Funke is a master of words. Her language is beautiful and eloquent, but her words aren't condescending in any way. You don't trip over the words. They are clear and poignant, and you feel as if you're really there, which fits so well with the storyline of Inkheart that I get the feeling the author truly understands the strength of her own words.
Inkheart is the story of a girl named Meggie and her father Mo, the bookbinder and book repairman. Mo has a distinct talent for bringing stories to life, and the villains of one story in particular, a book called Inkheart, have been brought to this world, give Mo and his family a great deal of problems. Also thrown into the mix is a marten with horns, a fire-eating entertainer named Dustfinger, a stern book-loving aunt named Elinor, Tinkerbell, the steadfast tin soldier, a boy from the Arabian Nights, Inkheart's author, and the foulest villains that your imagination could hope never to conjure. I dare say, they give Voldemort a run for his money for #1 most evil man in a story.
In addition to the excellent writing, the riveting story, and the realistic characters is the layout of the book itself. Each chapter has a short excerpt from another story which relates somehow to the theme of the chapter. I have such a deep appreciation for Cornelia Funke's work, now having read Inkheart and The Thief Lord, that I am surprised that she doesn't receive as much notoriety for her skills as J.K. Rowling. Her stories are just as delicious and well-thought out. I'll never again check out a "children's book" to say that I'm reading them for anyone but myself.