Cover art: Sylvia Bi
Every secret is a story waiting to happen.
In a vibrant city, two girls from very different walks of life join forces to fight censorship and protect the people they love. Eleven-year-old Cinzia is a printer’s apprentice. 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. So when Mestra Aronne is imprisoned for publishing accusations against the ruling family, Cinzia will do anything to prove that Mestra Aronne only told the truth.
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.
After unexpectedly meeting face-to-face, the girls follow a trail of clues through their golden city, drawing supporters and learning more about their home and each other than they ever could have imagined. 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 and debut illustrator Sylvia Bi have crafted an indelible, vibrant story about finding and using your voice. Ink Girls celebrates the power that everyone—even those often overlooked—has to create change.
ISBN-10: 0063027119 | ISBN-13: 978-0063027114
Drawn in warm jewel tones and embellished with charming details, the Renaissance Italy–influenced metropolis is as alive and changeable as any of its people. Bi’s meticulous, lively art captures the bustling streets and a sense of adventure around every corner. The character designs are endearing, and there’s a dynamic sense of movement, particularly in the way Cinzia navigates her world as a cane user whose disability never excludes her from the action. Elena’s neurodivergence is presented as an asset, her unique way of looking at the world a strength. (…) A topical ode to truth-telling and community.
— Kirkus Reviews
Small acts of intention and kindness propel this feel-good graphic novel about truth, friendship, and grassroots power. (…) Savvy readers will notice commentary on the contemporary political landscape in this high-stakes story of communal action.
— Publishers Weekly
Despite naysayers (“I’m not foolish enough to think that three girls can change the world”), bravery and perseverance characterize the girls as they endeavor to uncover corruption and make new friends along the way. (…) [T]he inspiring message of empowerment, coupled with the stunning artwork, makes a worthwhile tale for young readers.
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
This energetic and optimistic graphic novel overflows with collectivism and an activist spirit. (…) Friendship, family, home, and political risk-taking are thoughtfully presented through well-paced dialogue and inset boxes showcasing characters’ inner thoughts. (…) This lively, inclusive, and engaging story is also a timely reminder of the value of a free press.
— The Horn Book
Ink Girls will resonate with readers facing censorship in their own communities, while also delighting those just looking for a historical adventure.
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
The truth will always out. This fast-paced historical graphic novel will resonate with modern readers and delight those looking for a story of political intrigue, girl gangs, and fights against censorship.
— Nicole, Oblong Books (staff pick)
Ink Girls is not just about speaking truth to power; it is a story of how and why people risk their lives to fight for what is right. Combining the nuance of Muhammad Najem, War Reporter with the heart and soul of Squire; Nijkamp and Bi have crafted an epic tale of political corruption and grassroots resistance. This graphic novel is a love letter to an open and free press, without glossing over the risks of opposing people in power.
— Ben S., Belmont Books (staff pick, Best of the Year)
[A] passionate tale of resistance, perseverance, and the power of the press!
— BookPeople (Holiday Guide)
In an Italian rennaissance inspired city full of stories—and secrets—Cinzia is taken in as an apprentice by the local printer, Mestra Aronne. When word spreads of the ruling family’s lies, the Lord Magistrate does everything he can to stop them. Yet with ink, paper, and a ton of courage, Cinzia and her newfound friends speak up and demand to be heard, reminding us that even though it’s scary to tell the truth, it makes our communities stronger. In a world of book banning, this is an excellent conversation starter on censorship. Bonus points for the neurodivergence and disability representation!
— Beth, Wild Rumpus (staff pick, Holiday Guide)
This graphic novel is so full of big-hearted gumption! I loved rag-tag (plus a princess) group of girls working hard to combat censorship and inequity. I also appreciated the depiction of fighting with words, and ideals rather than physical violence. Also a great tool to introduce discussion around current events surrounding censorship and book banning. A must for every banned books display.
— Jessica, Books Inc. (staff pick)
☙ INK GIRLS was selected for the Society of Illustrators’ 43rd Original Art Exhibit.
☙ INK GIRLS is a November/December 2023 Kids’ Indie Next List pick.
☙ INK GIRLS is a American Booksellers Association Children’s Indie Favorite pick.
☙ INK GIRLS is a Library Services Centre Fall 2023 Notables pick.
☙ INK GIRLS is a School Library Journal Weekly Pick.
☙ INK GIRLS is part of the Black Bond Books 2023 Anniversary Catalogue.
☙ INK GIRLS is part of the BookPeople 2023 Holiday Catalog.
☙ INK GIRLS is part of the Wild Rumpus 2023 Winter Buyer’s Guide