After posting about The Incredible Book Eating Boy, I thought it would be a great book for starting the school year with first or second graders. It's a great introduction to reading: "We're going to just gobble up the books this year, kids!" That reminded me of The Ink Drinker.
I'm not much for vampire stories, but somewhere, somehow kids acquire basic vampire background knowledge. The two fangs, the blood, the pronouncing Ws as Vs ("I vant to suck your bloooood.") They get it. But I don't want it. Usually.
Odilon is the son of a bookstore owner. His father has piles of books everywhere, and he talks to them, calls them "my little bookies." (Incidently, when reading this aloud, my students often say, "That's you Mr. W!") It makes Odilon sick. Odilon, you see, hates books.
Odilon likes to hide out in the bookstore and watch for shoplifters. He cheers for them! After all, that's one less book. It's when he's hiding out that he sees an odd customer, one that puts a straw inside a book, sucks on it for a moment, then leaves. When Odilon checks the book, he finds it blank. No ink remains!
He follows the customer out of the store, and the chase leads to a cemetary and an ink bottle shaped gravestone. Odilon decends into the crypt - it's ever so creepy - to discover a library and casket. Turns out our vampire is allergic to blood. But ink, aaahhhh ink, properly aged in the pages of a book, is the perfect substitute.
Of course, this being a vampire story, a bite ensues. Draculink (yes, Draculink) makes his mark! And now Odilon has the same craving. For books.
I start the year out with The Ink Drinker. I even hand out straws. This, I tell my students, is what we can become, and maybe what some of us already are!
The story continues with A Straw for Two when Odilon gets a mysterious new classmate, followed by The City of Ink Drinkers and Little Red Ink Drinker.