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The Castle in the Attic Paperback – November 1, 1994

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Crystal Keepers  by Brandon Mull
Crystal Keepers by Brandon Mull
Trapped in a world where magic is powerful and dreams are real, Cole continues his quest. Learn more | Check out the series
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The Castle in the Attic + The Battle for the Castle + The Indian in the Cupboard
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Corners Dog Earred edition (November 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440409411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440409410
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A magical replica of a castle transports William to adventures in another land in these companion novels. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6 A satisfying quest fantasy with a strong element of modern realism which will appeal to a wide range of readers. Ten-year-old William is so distraught at the idea of his beloved housekeeper/nanny Mrs. Phillips returning to England that, with the aid of a magic token, he shrinks her into the size of the toy knight which inhabits a wooden castle that has been passed down in her family for generations. To undo his rash deed, William must be miniaturized himself and accompany the silver knight, Sir Simon, on a quest to overthrow Alastor, a wicked magician who long ago usurped the throne of what should have been Sir Simon's kingdom. William's pure and gentle heart enables him to triumph over both the magician and his own childish yearning to possess Mrs. Phillips. The plot is carefully constructed. William's real-life situation is a strong component of the story rather than a device whereby he can enter the fantasy world. His too-busy parents and his struggle to be mature enough to let Mrs. Phillips go are juxtaposed with his quest and struggle to defeat Alastor. Both William and Mrs. Phillips are sympathetic, well-developed characters. In contrast, William's pediatrician mother and architect father are sketchy, both in William's emotional life and in the author's realization of them. Adults may find the theme that a pure heart can triumph over evil is a bit overstated, and fantasy buffs may desire a more fully developed fantasy world, but for young readers new to fantasy this will be successful. Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, N.J.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

It is a book I recommend for both children and adults.
This was one of my favorite books as a child; I read it over and over.
E. S. Charpentier
Loved this book as a child, now my 8 year old son loves it as well!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
We are in the third grade at an all boys school and we just finished reading The Castle in the Attic. We highly recommend this book because it has magic, wizardry, knights, castles, dragons and time travel. We also enjoyed this book because some of the story is fantasy and some is reality. Each character does one special thing in the story. For example, William's special ability to defeat the dragon. The adventure was very exciting! We think the author's use of adjectives is great. Boys and girls would love this book! If you want to read this book by yourself, we recommend it to any student in the third grade and above. However, anyone over 6 years old might enjoy listening to this tale. This book is magical!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By M. Heiss on June 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this book out loud to my family of boys over the span of one week. They liked it very well -- even the littlest brother could follow the story, even though there are no illustrations.

It's a story of adventure and hidden strength, as a beloved nanny gives William a play castle with a surprise inside -- a miniature, living knight! The nanny and the 10-year-old child become miniaturized as well, and the adventure to rescue the kingdom from an evil wizard commences.

There was a long, slow build-up to the action in this story -- lots of school days, and afternoons in the attic, and gymnastics practices, and long discussion. Only the final 7 chapters detail the real adventure -- the first 10 are just warm-ups.

Parent notes:

*A lot of lying. A *lot* of lying. William (the child protagonist) lies almost constantly through the beginning of the book.

*Absent parents rely on a nanny so they can pursue their careers. In fact, the son makes pointed remarks about how the dad never keeps his promises.

*Great knightly values: Be compassionate to the needy. Neither squander wealth nor hoard it. Never lose your sense of shame. If questions are asked of you, answer them frankly but do not ask too many yourself. Be manly and of good cheer. Never kill a foe who is begging for mercy. Be ever loyal in love.

*William seems totally unfamiliar with the interiors of churches. He meets Sir Simon in a chapel and acts as though he has never seen a cross or smelled incense or noticed how altar candles flicker. Being in the chapel makes William feel small and quiet, and he recognizes it as a holy place, but that's it.
Read more ›
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
What I would describe as early-fantasy, a book for kids who are getting into the genre. Snappy and well-paced, the book is also dotted with sweet moments that may bring a tear to the eye.
William lives in a nice suburb with his ever-busy parents (I found it sweet how he still loves and treasures his parents, despite their frequent absence) and the nanny/maid, Mrs. Phillips. William receives shattering news: Mrs. Phillips intends to return to England. As a consolation gift, she gives him a toy castle with accompanying knight, and a tiny metal charm.
Then the knight comes to life. The tiny silver man, Sir Simon, soon befriends William as the young man goes to desperate lengths to keep Mrs. Phillips. But a knight can't forget his duty, and soon William becomes entangled in the clutches of Alastor, the evil wizard. But how can a physically unimpressive ten-year-old defeat a powerful magician?
William is an enjoyable character, made more so by his anxiety over Mrs. Phillips and general decency toward his fellow man. I also enjoyed the comparisons using his gymnastics lessons as examples of self-control and discipline.
Mrs. Phillips was a lovely character, very compassionate and caring, but firm in her intentions. Alastor was pure evil, while Sir Simon was a thoroughly likeable and decent guy, without being too perfect or anything like that. I found Calender to be a rather sorry character, and was glad of the resolution written for her.
The plot is pleasantly original, though I wish less time had been spent in "our" world. The writing style is rather ordinary, the first half a bit slow, and the descriptions somewhat underfleshed. However, the simple yet effective plot and good characterization overcome those problems. Without a doubt, kids should check out this book, and also the even-better sequel "The Battle for the Castle."
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
I think this is great book, and if you get the time to read it, you just might find it's one of the best books you have ever read. In the beginning it is somewhat slow, but if you keep reading, the book will get a lot better and the plot will unravel. There is a little boy who gets a toy castle and a knight from his housekeeper who is moving away. After playing with the castle and the knight the kid starts to see that not everything is normal, and that his world is about to be turned upside down! I hope you read this book for I know you'll like it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jane James on January 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
It's not overly long, and it's written in simple enough language that my 8 and 9 year old children had no trouble reading it.
It's a very engaging, sweet story, which introduces the concepts of chivalry and bravery. I actually think this book is very good for boys to read - it's about knights and fighting for one's honor, and demonstrating loyalty, but it's also about being able to cry when you need to, and being able to express love for others.
In this story, the little boy's nanny is moving away, because he's growing up and doesn't need her, and he has some trouble accepting this. I think it's a wonderful, simple way to address some of the issues all children face when approaching their teenage years.
I definitely recommend this one to parents and children.
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More About the Author

ELIZABETH WINTHROP (, the author of over sixty works of fiction for all ages, was born in Washington, D.C. Her award-winning titles for children include The Castle in the Attic, Counting on Grace, The Red-Hot Rattoons and Dumpy La Rue. Her short story, The Golden Darters, was a selected by BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES by Robert Stone. Under the name Elizabeth Winthrop Alsop, she is the author of the memoir piece, Don't Knock Unless You're Bleeding; Growing Up in Cold War Washington. She is currently working on a personal history about her parents' love affair during World War II. The daughter of Stewart Alsop, the political journalist, she divides her time between New York City and the Berkshires.

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