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Castle Paperback – October 25, 1982

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Editorial Reviews Review

Imagine yourself in 13th-century England. King Edward I has just named the fictitious Kevin le Strange to be the Lord of Aberwyvern--"a rich but rebellious area of Northwest Wales." Lord Kevin's first task is to oversee the construction of a strategically placed castle and town in order to assure that England can "dominate the Welsh once and for all." And a story is born! In the Caldecott Honor Book Castle, David Macaulay--author, illustrator, former architect and teacher--sets his sights on the creation and destiny of Lord Kevin's magnificent castle perched on a bluff overlooking the sea. Brick by brick, tool by tool, worker by worker, we witness the methodical construction of a castle through exquisitely detailed pen-and-ink illustrations. Children who love to know how things work especially appreciate Macaulay's passion for process and engineering. Moats, arrow loops, plumbing, dungeons, and weaponry are all explained in satisfying detail. This talented author also has a keen sense of irony and tragedy, which is played out in the intricacies of the human story: a castle can be built as a fortress, but ultimately it becomes obsolete when humans discover that cooperation works best. (Ages 9 and older) --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"What David Macaulay can draw -- churches, cities, pyramids -- he does better than any pen-and-ink illustrator in the world. Castle once again goes through a brick-by-brick assembly, employing cross-hatches and thin black lines to evoke a medieval place and period." Time Magazine

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1180L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; English Language edition (October 25, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395329205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395329207
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.3 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Macaulay is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books have sold millions of copies in the United States alone, and his work has been translated into a dozen languages. Macaulay has garnered numerous awards including the Caldecott Medal and Honor Awards, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Christopher Award, an American Institute of Architects Medal, and the Washington Post-Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award. In 2006, he was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, given "to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations." Superb design, magnificent illustrations, and clearly presented information distinguish all of his books. David Macaulay lives with his family in Vermont.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
In this book, text and detailed drawings follow the planning and construction of a "typical" castle and adjoining town in thirteenth-century Wales. Macaulay recently added the title "Mosque" to his series of large constructions such as "Castle" or "Pyramid". It is nice to see the man being so prolific. This book would appeal to the child who likes to know exactly how things are created. Going step by step, Macaulay explains each leg in the process of creating a castle. More importantly, with each construction the author goes even further, explaining the purpose of that piece. The reader never looses sight of the fact that castles were both antagonistic and defensive. Children today that have seen the Lord of the Rings movies might be very interested in knowing more about the construction of these structures and how difficult they were to defeat. Macaulay's drawings are just as interesting as his text. Pencil drawings label and list every tool, brick, and worker. Undoubtedly, this is not a book for everyone and it would not be much use beyond serving as a reference guide for interested students. However, should a teacher wish to bring it up, they might wish to show the video Macaulay narrated of this book. Also, it might go well with Avi's "Crispin: The Cross of Lead", as a look at a castle from a peasant's point of view.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on August 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
Of all the wonderful books written and illustrated by the great David Macaulay, this is my favorite. It was also the first of his books to which I was introduced. I was about seven and I read and re-read this book while pressing my face close to take in every feature of its lovely illustrations. I hope children in all times are as lucky as I was to meet a special book like this one and have it carry them off to a magical world between its covers.

All that said, let me tell you something about Castle. Castle, like most of Macaulay's books, tells the story of all features in the building of a great work, in this case it is Aberwyvern, a forbidding castle King Edward I is constructing on the Welsh frontier. Macaulay leads us through the selection of the location for the fortress, the clearing of the earth, the setting of the foundation, and the building of its mighty walls and skyscraping towers. He introduces us to the masons and laborers, soldiers and nobles who will live and work at Aberwyvern. And just when the castle is done, Macaulay shows us a Medieval seige in all its brutal depth, as the native Welsh fiercely battle the invading English and seek to bring down their imposing castle.

This book is truly one for the ages, and I cannot imagine anyone, small child through adult, would not love what they see here! I still have the copy I got when I was little and I get it down from the shelf to read at least a few times a year.

I hope this review was helpful and I hope it leads at least one person who might not have known about Castle to the library or bookseller to discover this special book!
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By on January 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read this book when I was about twelve and fell in love with it. It wasn't only the pictures that captured my imagination, but also the story. When I was older, I traveled to Wales and was amazed one day when I saw Lord Kevin's castle out of my car window! The castle in Caenarfon, North Wales is almost identical to the one in the book. When I walked through it (they let you roam anywhere in the castle you want to) it was like walking in this beautiful book!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
'Castle' gives a remarkable look a the creation of a medieval castle. The specifics of date, place, and people are all fiction, but the details of planning and construction are facts.

The narrative starts before the first shovel was put to earth in the project, with the political situation between England and Wales at the end of the 13th century. This may sound like a bit much for a child's book, but it really isn't. Without going into excessive detail, it brings out the fact that castles were built with reasons. And with money - even the financing of this project gets a few lines.

The largest part of the book describes the various phases of construction, from the first earthworks and defensive ditches forward. Macaulay describes construction, step by step, including the different kinds of walls and their places in defense of the castle. He describes the homely facts of kitchens, chimneys, and human waste. He mentions the different trades involved, and their tools. Once the castle is built, Macaulay even describes a battle, including the sappers' attacks on the walls we just saw under construction.

And, in the end, he describes the castle as a ruin. Once its purpose is served, it is abandoned and let to fall. Its stones are taken for new, peaceful uses.

This book truly brings the castle to life. I don't mean the people and society within it, but the building itself. We see its birth, its life, and even its valor in battle. Then, we see its death. This book is sure to inform, and even encourage a child's curiousity. If we know what's behind the walls of the castle, then what's behind our modern walls?

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 1997
Format: Paperback
I received this book as a gift when I was 13 and it remained a cherished favorite of mine for years. I now 'read' the same copy to my 3 year old who loves the pictures.
Like all of David MacAulay's books, Castle is a great way to introduce your child to art, architecture, engineering and history.
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