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Castle in the Air Paperback – April 22, 2008

180 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Howl's Castle Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Abdullah the rug merchant leaves his humdrum life far behind when he purchases a threadbare magic carpet from a mysterious stranger. Almost immediately, Abdullah is whisked off on a series of adventures that bear an uncanny resemblance to his own daydreams. He meets the love of his life only to have her kidnapped by a fierce djinn. With the help of the magic carpet--and an ornery genie--Abdullah sets out to rescue his bride-to-be. His travels take him to the fairy tale land of Ingary, the setting of this novel's predecessor, Howl's Moving Castle. As usual, Jones has constructed a wonderfully complicated plot, chock-full of magical mayhem. However, while her other interconnected novels ( Charmed Life , The Magicians of Caprona and The Lives of Christopher Chant ) can be read on their own, the final third of Abdullah's story is likely to confuse readers not already acquainted with the characters introduced in the first book. Those familiar with Ingary will welcome the chance to return and catch up on the doings of its exuberant inhabitants. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-- In this sequel to Howl's Moving Castle (Greenwillow, 1986), Jones once again exercises her talent for humor in a lively fantasy adventure. It is not necessary to read Howl first; the story stands strongly on its own. In fact, fans of Jones' earlier book may be puzzled at first as to what the connection could be . . . until they glimpse hovering on the horizon a castlelike cloud . . . or is it a cloudlike castle? At any rate, the story begins as Abdullah, a humble carpet merchant in the marketplace of Zanzib, acquires a flying carpet and lands in the midst of a series of fantastic adventures. The cast of characters includes an evil djinn, beautiful princesses, a genie in a bottle, women-turned-cats, and soldiers-turned-frogs. This is the Arabian Nights with a twist. Readers may be breathless from the rapid changes of scene and quick pace of events, but they won't put down the book until they figure out all its secrets. --Ruth S. Vose, San Francisco Public Library
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Reprint edition (April 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061478776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061478772
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards--and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter--her books were filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy. From the very beginning, Diana Wynne Jones's books garnered literary accolades: her novel Dogsbody was a runner-up for the 1975 Carnegie Medal, and Charmed Life won the esteemed Guardian children's fiction prize in 1977. Since then, in addition to being translated into more than twenty languages, her books have earned a wide array of honors--including two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors--and appeared on countless best-of-the-year lists. Her work also found commercial success: in 1992 the BBC adapted her novel Archer's Goon into a six-part miniseries, and her best-selling Howl's Moving Castle was made into an animated film by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki in 2004. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006, and became one of the most financially successful Japanese films in history. The author herself has also been honored with many prestigious awards for the body of her work. She was given the British Fantasy Society's Karl Edward Wagner Award in 1999 for having made a significant impact on fantasy, received a D.Lit from Bristol University in 2006, and won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2007.

Born just outside London in 1934, Diana Wynne Jones had a childhood that was "very vivid and often very distressing"--one that became the fertile ground where her tremendous imagination took root. When the raids of World War II reached London in 1939, the five-year-old girl and her two younger sisters were torn from their suburban life and sent to Wales to live with their grandparents. This was to be the first of many migrations, one of which brought her family to Lane Head, a large manor in the author-populated Lake District and former residence of John Ruskin's secretary, W.G. Collingwood. This time marked an important moment in Diana Wynne Jones's life, where her writing ambitions were magnified by, in her own words, "early marginal contacts with the Great." She confesses to having "offending Arthur Ransome by making a noise on the shore beside his houseboat," erasing a stack of drawings by the late Ruskin himself in order to reuse the paper, and causing Beatrix Potter (who also lived nearby) to complain about her and her sister's behavior. "It struck me," Jones said, "that the Great were remarkably touchy and unpleasant, and I thought I would like to be the same, without the unpleasantness." Prompted by her penny-pinching father's refusal to buy the children any books, Diana Wynne Jones wrote her first novel at age twelve and entertained her sisters with readings of her stories. Those early stories--and much of her future work--were inspired by a limited but crucial foundation of classics: Malory's Morte D'Arthur, The Arabian Nights, and Epics and Romances of the Middle Ages. Fantasy was Jones's passion from the start, despite receiving little support from her often neglectful parents. This passion was fueled further during her tenure at St. Anne's College in Oxford, where lectures by J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis increased her fascination with myth and legend. She married Medievalist John Burrow in 1956; the couple have three sons and six grandchildren.

After a decade of rejections, Diana Wynne Jones's first novel, Changeover, was published in 1970. In 1973, she joined forces with her lifelong literary agent, Laura Cecil, and in the four decades to follow, Diana Wynne Jones wrote prodigiously, sometimes completing three titles in a single year. Along the way she gained a fiercely loyal following; many of her admirers became successful authors themselves, including Newbery Award winners Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman, and Newbery Honor Book author Megan Whalen Turner. A conference dedicated solely to her work was held at the University of West England, Bristol, in 2009. Diana Wynne Jones continued to write during her battle with lung cancer, which ultimately took her life in March 2011. Her last book, Earwig and the Witch, will be published by Greenwillow Books in 2012.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 97 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 15, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having a favorite obscure British children's fantasy author is a bit like having a favorite obscure British band. At first, they're your own private secret. The kind of thing you try to get all your friends into. You get all their best work. You belong to their fan club. And you wonder why no else has ever been as intelligent as you are in finding them. Then, one day out of the blue, they hit it big. At first you're elated. FINALLY, the world has come around to your point of view. You feel utterly vindicated. This feeling lasts for about three days, then comes crashing down around your ankles as you come to realize that now everybody and their mother wants a piece of YOUR discovery. Such was the case with me and Diana Wynne Jones. I was perfectly content to keep a large Diana Wynne Jones section in the children's library where I work. I'd recommend her to any child who was suffering from Harry Potter withdrawl. Then "Howl's Moving Castle" was made into a film and everything changed. Now she's the hottest item since sliced bread and everyone wants a piece of her. I wouldn't be surprised if "Archer's Goon" gets turned into a mini-series and "Dogsbody" ends up animated on Saturday morning cartoons. Until that happens, however, I'll continue to read and recommend her works. "Castle In the Air" is actually the sequel to "Howl's Moving Castle", and is in many ways more readable than its predecessor. There's nothing quite as delightful as discovering a new book by your favorite author. Even if everyone else in the world thinks that author's cool too.

Abdullah leads an unremarkable life. He's one of many carpet dealers in the city of Zanzib and he does what he does rather well.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 17, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of Diana Wynne-Jones' less impressive works, "Castle in the Air" is nevertheless a funny and entertaining read, full of memorable characters and tight plotting. A little too tight in places, but never quite becoming irritating. Mediocre Diana Wynne-Jones is still exceptional.
Abdullah is a dreamy young carpet merchant with a slew of nosy, overbearing relatives and a prophecy made at his birth; they see him as wasting his life, which is quite humble to say the least. But his fortunes change when he is sold a magic carpet by a mysterious stranger. The carpet takes him as he sleeps to a secluded garden, where a naive, beautiful young woman called Flower-in-the-Night is. Unsurprisingly, Abdullah and Flower-in-the-Night fall deeply in love. Unfortunately, her rich father wants to marry her off to a prince.
Abdullah tries to elope with Flower-in-the-Night, only to see her carried off by a hideous djinn. He ends up on the run from her father with a mercenary soldier, the flattery-hungry carpet, a malicious genie who makes every wish go wrong somehow, and a mother cat and her kitten. Soon they end up enmeshed in a bizarre tangle involving wizards, djinns, demons, genies, dogs smelling of squid, and a slew of princesses with minds of their own.
Though this is a sequel to "Howl's Moving Castle," the characters from that book take over half the book to show up. Instead, we are treated to Wynne-Jones' entertainingly skewed version of the "Arabian Nights," with the hapless and sweet-spoken Abdullah slogging to the castle. Jones manages to affectionately poke the Middle-Eastern setting and its various customs, while spinning the story outward to encompass "Howl's Moving Castle" as well.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By T. Hooper on April 13, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"Castle in the Air" is supposed to be the sequel to "Howl's Moving Castle", but I didn't feel that the connection between these two books is very good. First of all, the main characters of "Howl's Moving Castle" don't appear until the end of the book. In addition, when the characters finally do appear, its seems as if they had undergone a personality change. Speaking of personality, I didn't feel that the characters were well developed. In fact you never really care for the main character of this book, especially after you learn of his urges to kick cats. Whether he finds his princess or gets turned into a toad, it's all fine as far as the reader goes because the reader never gets a chance to feel any sympathy for the character.

As far as the action goes, it never develops into a coherent story. It just seems like an endless stream of minor incidents thrown together. When you finally get to the end, you'll groan at the simple trick used to resolve the final confrontation with the villian. Not even an elementary school student would fall for it, but it works in this story.

In the end, my recommendation is to pass on this book. If you haven't read "Howl's Moving Castle", I recommend reading that instead. If you have, don't get this book. It doesn't add anything to "Howl's Moving Castle". It shouldn't be labeled as a sequel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sondra on June 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I VERY much enjoyed this book! It is full of detailed and mythical encounters that I loved to read! Her description and creativeness in going about the plot made this book one I highly reccomend.I did enjoy Howl's moving castle a little more but I felt that The Casle in The Air was almost as good!I do not regret spending my money on this book and if you enjoyed Howl's moving castle I could almost garuntee you'll like this book!
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