Today, I want to tell you about one of my very favorite books. And no, I don’t mean The Princess Bride. I figure I’ve touted that one enough and if you haven’t listened to me yet and read it, shame on you.
No, I want to tell you about The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. I’m sure you’ve all seen the movie. I’ve seen in a million-and-one-times, thanks to the appearance of it every-single-year at our end-of-year parties in school. The movies were based on this one book, and it blows them right out of the water and all the way to that non-planet, Pluto.
Unfortunately, its publisher doesn’t seem to interesting in promoting it. This is all they had to say about it on Barnes & Noble’s website:
Small and insignificant Bastian Balthazar Bux is nobody’s idea of a hero, least of all his own. Then, through the pages of an ancient, mysterious book, he discovers the enchanted world of Fantastica, and only Bastian himself can save the fairy people who live there.
That does not even remotely do the book justice. Amazon says even less:
Shy, awkward Bastian is amazed to discover that he has become a character in the mysterious book he is reading and that he has an important mission to fulfill.
What is wrong with these people??? For this book is so much more than either of these descriptions. It’s a first class coming-of-age, adventure story for young and old. Bastian is a lonely, shy little boy who is grieving for the loss of his mother. He ducks into a book store to escape some bullies and comes across a book. Not just any book, mind you. This book is The Neverending Story, a book that pulls at him, creating a longing in him to read it so great, that he steals it from the bookseller who refuses to sell it to him. And here you see, this is also a book for book lovers:
“If you have never wept bitter tears because a wonderful story has come to an end and you must take your leave of the characters with whom you have shared so many adventures, whom you have loved and admired, for whom you have hoped and feared, and without whose company life seems empty and meaningless –
If such things have not been part of your own experience, you probably won’t understand what Bastian did next.” Prologue, p. 7
He cuts school to read the book, which takes him all day and into the night. He meets many different magical peoples including; Atreyu the boy warrior, Falkor the luck dragon, Gmork the werewolf, and the Childlike Empress, and many more. He follows Atreyu on his quest, to discover what ails the Childlike Empress and save her. Bastian soon discovers that he is in fact a character in the book as well and not just any character, but the hero. He goes on many wonderful, strange adventures inside the pages of the book, healing that world with the power of his imagination. With this new power, he begins to change. And that’s all I’m going to say. You need to read it.
The Neverending Story was first published by German author Michael Ende in 1979. It’s translation, by Ralph Manheim, appeared in 1983. This is a magical novel, one any child would love, and adults too. It’s definitely one you can get lost in.