Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke This novel from German favorite Funke seems closer to her light-hearted feminist picture books than the deep and complex Inkheart series. Igraine is the youngest child of powerful magicians, the Fair Melisande and Sir Lamorak the Wily. They live in the small, dilapidated but cozy Pimpernel Castle. Her older brother Albert is studying to be a magician, too, but Igraine has always wanted to be a knight. It’s just days away from her twelfth birthday when they receive news that their neighbor the Duchess has been taken over by her greedy nephew. He wants the Singing Spellbooks that have always belonged to Igraine’s family at Pimpernel Castle. Just as the castle is besieged, Igraine’s parents accidentally turn themselves into pigs. And they’re out of the red giant hairs that they’ll need to turn themselves back again. It’s up to Igraine to save the day, with the help of a gentle giant and the Sorrowful Knight, who teaches her the rules of chivalry. It’s a quirky and exciting book perfect for nine- to twelve-year-olds, and possibly younger for reading aloud.
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