Review: Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel (For Review)

goSource: Publisher – I received this in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 
 Hardcover, 256 Pages
 Middle Grade Fantasy
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

Ethan’s dad is a comic artist whose greatest creation, the mutant superhero Kren, brought him fame and glory. But after his dad’s string of successful books, a tragedy strikes the family and now his dad is completely stuck.

If only artistic talent were hereditary. Ethan is stuck on a graphic-novel project of his own at school and won’t own up to the fact that he can’t draw. When one night an ink-blot creation emerges from his father’s sketchbook, the family’s whole world begins to change.

Featuring artwork by the beloved, award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith, Inkling is a timeless story that speaks to the creator in us all.

Inkling is a middle-grade novel with a ton of heart and imagination! It centers around a young boy named Ethan, his family, and a little ink blob that changes their life. It’s an engaging and fun story that tackles some heavy themes without ever becoming too overwhelming. 

Inkling is a little ink-blot that comes to life in the middle of the night and finds himself at the center of a family as it struggles to heal and move forward. Ethan is stuck working on a graphic novel for school, but he can’t draw despite what his friends think. Ethan’s father is a comic book artist who hasn’t completed a single story since his wife’s death and finds himself stuck in a rut both creatively and in life. Sarah, Ethan’s little sister, wants a puppy and even though she doesn’t know it needs more time with her father. The death of the mother has created a cloud over their family, and Ethan is trying his hardest to push forward. Inkling’s entrance into his life brings joy and re-connection with his father, and the process in which they both heal, reconcile, and move forward is one that is truly heartfelt and emotional. The connection that Ethan has with his sister Sarah, who has Downs Syndrome, is truly wonderful. It’s so rare to see big/little sibling relationships that are not fraught with jealousy and teasing, so it’s lovely to see Ethan taking his role as a big brother so seriously. He cares for her, takes time out of each day to spend time playing pretend, and even though he does get annoyed he doesn’t let that affect his time with her. 

I think where this book excels is in the pure emotion on the page. It’s such a fun book to read, but it has a lot of moments where you get a bit choked up over what’s happening. It deals with death in a way that it can start a gentle understanding of the pain left behind, but also focuses on the healing that can come from being with family. As an adult, I could see Ethan’s father’s grief in a way that I understood and felt truly worried about, but it is written in such a subtle and gentle way that kids will also understand the distance between him and his children. It also tackles moral dilemmas involving inkling’s ability to draw. Is it okay to use Inkling to help with school work? Is it okay to have it draw pages for your career? 

To add to the charm it also has illustrations to accompany the story. It has cute little ink splotches on each page, and some equally wonderful drawings scattered throughout. 

This is my first Oppel book but I don’t think it will be my last. He has such a light yet immersive style, and he really excels at putting emotions on the page in a way that you can’t help but feel them. I think this is an excellent age-appropriate book that will engage kids (and adults) and keep them reading. 

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Tell Me Tuesday #87

I am having a really bad two weeks of anxiety thanks to the two job interviews I have/had. One is on Thursday and I’ve been all nerves since last night. So I’m hoping to lose myself in books and video games until I get it over with.


Inkling by Kenneth Oppel: 4 Stars ✬✬✬✬- A lovely age appropriate middle grade that is fun and engaging. It presents tough topics like the death of a family member in a gentle way, while still managing to remain upbeat. 

Firestarter by Stephen King: 4 Stars ✬✬✬✬ – I had a feeling this would be one of the King novels I would really enjoy! It dives right in and does’t spend forever with set up, the two main characters are actually likeable and easy to relate to, and it doesn’t end with you needing a scalding shower because it leaves you feeling gross. Definitely happy I stuck with the group up to this point. 


Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu – I am almost done with this one and I’m not all that impressed by it. The science is really interesting but it’s dense, add that to the really stiff and somewhat flat writing style and it’s a slog. This might be a translation issue. 

Not The Bad by Roxane Gay – I just started this one and while it is a tough read, I am finding it really interesting. The essays are done by a whole host of people about their experiences dealing with the effects of rape culture. 

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