The Neverending Story

Publisher: Puffin

Bastian Balthazar Bux, a bookish and shy child who has recently lost his mother, bursts into an antique bookshop one day, having been chased by bullies. There, he meets a crotchety old bookseller and steals a mysterious leather-bound book, The Neverending Story.

Holed up in the school gym store cupboard, Bastian finds himself immersed in a fantasy world, Fantastica, where its ruler, The Childlike Empress, is suffering from a mystery illness. As Bastian reads on, he starts to realise that he too is entering the book, and when he realises that only he can save the Childlike Empress by giving her a new name, he becomes a character in it himself.

Yet, many perils await Bastian, now that he is a hero and has been given amazing powers. As he slowly loses what made him human – and as the terrifying Nothing creeps further and further into Fantastica – Bastian must face his own ego and pride and become humble again and share the magic of Fantastica with everyone.

This epic fantasy tale complete with dragons, witches, hollow soldiers powered by magic, giants, lions made of coloured sand, herbalist gnomes and laser-eyed sphinxes, is also a meaningful tale about the power of imagination and what it means to be human. Despite his faults, we’re rooting for Bastian all the way as he realises the magic and strength he possesses. Utterly brilliant.

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