From New York Times–bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp and breakout illustrator Sylvia Bi, this debut middle grade graphic novel celebrates the power that everyone—even those often overlooked—has to create change. In a vibrant city that thrives on trade and invention, two girls from very different walks of life join forces to fight censorship and protect the people they love. Ink Girls will appeal to readers of Tidesong, The Witch Boy, and Garlic and the Vampire.
Eleven-year-old Cinzia is a printer’s apprentice in sunny Siannerra, a bustling, powerful city, where the ruling family encourages science and arts. Cinzia’s days are filled with helping her mestra, Aronne. She adores Mestra Aronne for taking her in—most guilds don’t have room for apprentices with a crippled leg—and she loves life in the raggedy workshop that smells of paper and printing, where secrets and stories are always circulating.
When Mestra Aronne discovers that the principessa’s brother is stealing from the city, her latest newsletter becomes the talk of the town. Both Aronne and Cinzia are arrested and brought to the palazzo to be charged with treason. Desperate, Cinzia manages to break free, weaving through the mazelike palazzo, only to end up in the gardens, where she comes face-to-face with Elena, the principessa’s daughter.
Elena is the exact same age as Cinzia, but she’s forced to keep to her rooms and garden. To protect her, according to her mother. To protect the city, according to her uncle. Because Elena is not the charming, powerful noble her family wants her to be. According to them, she doesn’t communicate well. She’s too gullible and literal and struggles to understand other people.
The girls decide to work together to free Mestra Aronne and bring justice down upon Elena’s uncle. They slip out of the palazzo and follow a whisper network of girls, drawing supporters from throughout Siannerra. If one person—no matter how young—can change the course of history, just imagine what a whole flock of them could do.
Bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp’s graphic novel sings with rich dialogue and fully realized characters who steal your heart. Debut illustrator Sylvia Bi brings sunny Siannerra to vibrant life—with all of its wonders and flaws—in her gorgeously detailed, energetic illustrations. Together, they have crafted an indelible story about finding and using your voice, perfect for fans of Lightfall, Tidesong, and The Prince and the Dressmaker.
Marieke Nijkamp (she/they/any) is the author of the middle grade graphic novel Ink Girls as well as several books for young adults, which include #1 New York Times bestsellers, a critically acclaimed anthology, graphic novels, and comics. She studied philosophy and medieval history, and when she isn't writing, she loves to garden, roll dice, and daydream. Marieke Nijkamp lives and writes in Small Town, the Netherlands.
Sylvia Bi is an illustrator who loves drawing stories with expansive, vibrant worlds, an undercurrent of chaos, and girls running on rooftops. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she explores and shares diverse stories and experiences through the power of a (digital) pen. She is also a book designer, a frog enthusiast, and an avid earring collector. Sylvia Bi lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“This fabulous mystery celebrates the importance of truth and transparency—and Sylvia Bi’s attention to detail is astonishing!” -Dan Santat, award-winning author of A First Time for Everything
“Glorious! With immersive world-building and brilliantly developed characters, this empowering read is absolutely unforgettable.” -Ellen Oh, acclaimed author of Finding Junie Kim
“In this vibrant story about the power of the printed word and the strength of found families, every page is bursting with life and detail.” -Ethan Aldridge, creator of the bestselling Estranged
“[Two] girls become caught in a web of political intrigue and urban corruption as they work to expose treachery and make a better world. . . . Drawn in warm jewel tones and embellished with charming details . . . Bi’s meticulous, lively art captures the bustling streets and a sense of adventure around every corner. . . . Cinzia navigates her world as a cane user whose disability never excludes her from the action. Elena’s neurodivergence is presented as an asset . . . A topical ode to truth-telling and community.” -Kirkus Reviews
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