Bastian Balthazar Bux was a little boy around the age of ten or twelve. He lived with his father, because his mother died. When his mother was still alive his relationship with his father had been great. But since then they rarely spoke, his father became quiet, and very sad, Bastian couldn't reach him. He didn't care when Bastian was put back in school the year before. Bastian's time at school had been hard too, his classmates made fun of his fatness and clumsiness, and they were laughing at him when they discovered that having no friend to talk to he talked to himself. He told himself stories, about all sort of things, of knights and warriors, of great kings and queens, unicorns and other fantastic animals. He also loved books. All sort of fantasy-books, but all stories must end once, and he was always very sad when one ended.
One day when he went to school, his classmates were waiting for him in front of the schoolhouse. They chased him until he was so tired he couldn't run any further. They got him and dropped him into a litter-bin. Only after a long time could he get out. It was raining heavily, and he didn't have an umbrella with him, so he ran into the nearest shop for cover. It was a book-shop. An old man who was sitting in an armchair smoking a pipe was the seller. In his hand he held a book. Bastian who was soaked to skin and the man talked for a time, but the telephone rang and the old man went to the other end of the shop to pick it up. Bastian looked on the book, the man had been reading before he came in. It was bound in copper-coloured silk, and when he leafed through it he saw that it was printed in two colours red and blue. There seemed to be no pictures, but at the beginning of every chapter, there were beautiful capital letters. On the front cover of the book there were two snakes biting each other's tails, one was light and the other was dark. They formed an oval and inside it could be read:.