Ink on His Fingers

by Louisa Vernon
127 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by niennasiblings

Interesting, historical read with good morals.


Hans Dunne's not-so-secret dream is to copy the Bible as a monk. When he learns that his deceased father had loaned money to someone, making them deep in debt, Hans is determined to find the receiver and get the money back. With his mischievous friend Ulrich, Hans gets mixed up in a type-stealing mystery. Will Herr Gutenberg really print the Bible? What is causing Herr Fust's strange actions? And why did his father go into debt in order to support someone?


A boy is accused of stealing, and is never proven not guilty though you get the impression that he is not. A monk is disobedient in giving extra food to another monk who is doing penance by fasting. This is not shown as wrong. Two boys disobey a monk by looking at his Bible. A man spies on Gutenberg while working for him, and then betrays him. Both of these are clearly shown as wrong. Two boys listen in on a conversation, which is shown as wrong. There is a lot of discussion about whether it is right to borrow money and not pay it back when the project is important.

Spiritual Content

The book shows well that God will take care of His work, so we don't need to be concerned, because if it's God's desire He will pull it through. Men call Gutenberg's workshop "The Devil's workshop." A woman buys a picture of a saint, believing it will protect her.


Herr Muller is known for keeping ferocious dogs. Gutenberg's workmen get in a fight with a mob, in which the injuries are minimal.

Drug and Alcohol Content


Sexual Content


Crude or Profane Language or Content



This book doesn't tell much about Gutenberg's past, but gives a bit of insight into the life of the times, particularly in a monastery. It gives a good introduction to the invention of printing, but the portrayal of Gutenberg was weak so that I had to really search in the book to find his positive character qualities. Overall, it was an enjoyable read and I thought Han was a good main character because he's responsible and not a coward.

Fun Score: 3.5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 11-12

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