Bastian Balthazar Bux’s passion was books. If you’ve never spent whole afternoons with burning ears and rumpled hair, forgetting the world around you over a book, forgetting cold and hunger —
If you’ve never read secretly under the bedclothes with a flashlight, because your father or mother or some other well meaning person has switched off the lamp on the plausible ground that it was time to sleep because you had to get up so early — 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 whosecompany 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.
— The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende
When I was 8 years old, my father handed me a book with a magical symbol on the cover, with text in red or green by turn, with a protagonist that for all intents and purposes was ME. I doubt I could ever adequately express what this book meant to me at that particular point in my life, nor in the subsequent years in which I read the book again and again, till the corners of the pages turned soft and the imprint on the cover became something you could only see in the right light at the right angle. I first met the characters of The Neverending Story when the movie was released in 1984. I was enraptured by every aspect of the film, but it was the book that truly captured me. The movie is a near perfect adaptation of the first half of the novel, but it misses some crucial elements that make this book a powerful masterpiece of Children’s fiction.