________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 1. . . .September 7, 2012


Ink Me. (Seven The Series).

Richard Scrimger.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
210 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.). For pricing information about digital options, including multi-user ebook subscriptions, email
ISBN 978-1-4598-0016-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0017-5 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0018-2 (epub).
Seven (the series) Bundle. ISBN 978-1-4598-0270-4. $59.95.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Mary Thomas.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.



You wont beleeve what Grampa wantd me to do. What my task was. Reddy? OK here it is. He wantd me to get a tatoo. I no isnt that crazy? Isnt that the weerdest thing? A tatoo. Wen I red the letter I went NO WAY and startd laffing. Corse Spencer was all reddy dun with his letter and going O crap O crap O crap.

Grampa had it all plannd out for me. There was a tatoo place on Lakeshore run by an old bud of his and I was going to show up and the guy wud give me a tatoo. Grampa xplaned in his letter. He was sposed to get a tatoo back in 1945 with his crew -- Grampa flew airplanes -- but he was sick that day and they got the tatoo and he dint. And then the war ended and he came home and got bizzy with other things so now he wantd me to get the tatoo for him.

"I no your big and strong Bernard"

he rote in the letter

"so you can stand the pane of the needl. The tatoo will remind you of sum important things. Your not a kid any more. Your getting older. Your growing up and I bet you feel alone sum times. But your not alone. Evry time you look at your arm youll no your apart of sum thing big. Me and my crew never let each other down. We wont let you down ether. Together we fly. Thats our motto. Make it yours Bernard. Trust yourself and trust your team. Dont do this for me -- do it for you."

Sum thing like that anyway. I dont member the xact words. There was more stuff about beng there for each other and all. I showd the letter to Mom. She was upset but I wasn't. Not even at the Bernard. I was used to it.


Let me start by saying that I don't like books written so much in the child's voice that they have to be read aloud in order to make sense of the nonsense. (Like, I mean, I jest dohn, you know, *like* it!) However, that having been acknowledged, Ink Me is a really good story. Bunny -- real name Bernard, but no one other than his recently deceased Grampa called him that -- is one of seven grandsons each of whom receives a legacy of a brown-paper envelope containing a task that Grampa would like him to fulfil. These tasks are all things that Grampa had always wanted to do, but hadn't managed in his lifetime and would like to have accomplished in loco parentis, so to speak. (Though he would certainly not have phrased it quite like that!) Bunny's chore, as the excerpt above explains, was to go to a specific tattoo parlour and get a tattoo, everything arranged and paid for by Grampa in advance. Bunny is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but this is within his capabilities, and he does it. The consequences are the story, written by him as he sits in the police station after a raid on a bit of gang warfare in Toronto that the tattoo has got him involved with.

      The police try to get Bunny to turn informer -- therefore their request that he write his version of the events that led up to his being arrested -- but he is both too honest and too dumb to be of much use. He does, however, understand the important things in life: family, friendship, and loyalty. He's also turning into a pretty good boxer -- "Hit like a brick. Fall like a ball," he gets told -- though mostly he fights, as he does everything else, merely by instinct. Grampa's letter told Bunny that this tattoo would always be there as a reminder that he was part of a team, even though it hurt. And Grampa was right, but not quite as he had intended. The nature of the team was not exactly what Grampa had envisioned.

      As I said, this is not a format that I really like, but it has more justification in this context than in most, and the reader who perseveres will be rewarded with an exciting story and a lot of hearty laughs at Bunny's misunderstandings and their consequences. But reader beware: Do not use Ink Me as a style sheet for your next school assignment!

      Ink Me is one of a series of seven, each of which tells the story of one of the grandkids and his adventures as he attempts to carry out his grandfather's wish for him. The books are all written by different eminent Canadian YA authors; the series must have taken an immense amount of coordination -- we learn some of Bunny's brother Spencer's troubles in the course of this book, and they have to tie in with what Ted Staunton lined up for him in Jump Cut -- and the whole thing is crazy enough to work. I look forward to finding out about just what Grampa had in mind for DJ and Adam and Steve...


Mary Thomas lives in Winnipeg, MB, and is old enough to feel the temptation to rule the young from the grave via her will, but she hopes she is strong enough to resist the temptation!

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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