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Castle Paperback – October 25, 1982
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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?
Like all of David MacAulay's books, Castle is a great way to introduce your child to art, architecture, engineering and history.