cover image The Ink Drinker

The Ink Drinker

Eric Sanvoisin. Delacorte Press, $9.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32591-2

In this mildly sinister chapter book from France, a strange breed of vampire sucks the black blood of literature. The narrator, who hates reading but observes customers in his father's bookshop, discovers the ghoul. From a shelf, the boy watches a ""weird looking guy, with a gray complexion and bristly eyebrows"" placing a drinking straw between the pages of a book. Afterward, the young spy inspects the volume: ""I was struck by its incredible lightness.... There wasn't a single word left on the pages!"" He confronts the vampire in an inkwell-shaped mausoleum, swoons and wakes up at Dad's bookshop with a mysterious craving for a literary fix. Sanvoisin plays upon the sensual experience of reading. The narrator's father, an insatiable reader, ""devours [books] like an ogre""--metaphorically speaking. The vampire confesses, ""Bottled ink is as bland as salt-free food. But ink that has aged on paper, well, it's the ultimate gourmet dish."" And the boy, bitten by ""Draculink,"" rationalizes his thirst like a stricken Victorian hero. Matje provides evocative images of the fiend, whose bruised skin and jet-black eyes are the product of his habit. This story asserts that books offer adventure to those who don't fancy themselves scholars, offering up a contrast between studious father and inkthirsty son. A slim but diverting tale. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)