by Kristin Kladstrup
The year is 1914, and a boy named Oscar living in rural Iowa finds a book called “The Book of Story Beginnings.” The book is blank, except for one story beginning written by someone a long time ago, and Oscar writes the beginnings of three stories in it. Then he disappears, and his family never hears from him again.
Almost a hundred years later, Oscar’s great-niece, Lucy Martin, moves into the house in Iowa with her family. Lucy finds the Book of Story Beginnings, and after reading Oscar’s story beginnings, she writes one of her own. That’s when the trouble starts. Lucy’s father turns into a bird and flies away, and just at that moment, Oscar reappears. Oscar tells her his story, a story that was set into motion by what he wrote in the Book. Then he and Lucy set out to find and rescue her father and set things right.
The Book of Story Beginnings is a fun book for anyone who loves books or writing. Like Inkheart and Inkspell, it delves into questions of self-determination and whether characters have lives independent of their creators, although it’s lighter than that series. Lucy and Oscar embark on a marvelous adventure that weaves together elements from all three of Oscar’s story beginnings, as well as Lucy’s. In the process, the two children discover that while the author may set the story in motion, it’s up to the characters to finish it. They find that, in the end, we’re all responsible for our own happy endings, and that some endings are really beginnings.