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Come to the Castle!: A Visit to a Castle in Thirteenth-Century England Hardcover – April 14, 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3–5—In the vein of Laura Amy Schlitz's Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! (Candlewick, 2007), Ashman offers voices of several characters within the castle of a bumbling earl as he decrees that he will hold a tournament and a banquet. What this actually means is that his staff will plan the events and suffer the consequences as they clean up after the visiting nobles. The story is straightforward; what is interesting here are the multiple perspectives in rhyming poems that drive the narrative and the humorous artwork filled with period details. Schindler fills the pages with color, from the illustrations themselves to the illuminated borders and drop-cap letters that echo medieval texts. Ashman's poetry holds together well, only occasionally dropping the meter. Endnotes offer historical facts about the roles of each of the characters, from the steward to the "gong farmer," whose job was to clean the privy. In fact, the gong farmer is the most captivating character in the book: his poem and illustration are laid out length-wise to show the drop from the privy to where the mess eventually ends up. While for a younger audience and not as useful in a classroom context as Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, this book presents more details to expand on the period, and browsers will be enchanted by the illustrations.—Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
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From Booklist

What’s bored royalty to do? If you’re the Earl of Daftwood, you throw a party complete with a grand feast and jousting. And if you’re the Earl of Daftwood’s staff, you groan and fret because nothing is more troublesome than a party. Using various rhyming schemes, Ashman begins with the Earl and then shifts the point of view to his various underlings as each describes their preparations, and in doing so give a sense of what it was like to live in a thirteenth-century English castle. The rhymes have an appropriate leisurely pace energized by clever couplets such as this sentiment from the Cleaning Servant: “Scatter the rats. Now it’s perfectly clean— / Or at least good enough; we’re not serving the Queen!” The intricate artwork portrays the revelers as a bit grotesque and uses ornate framing and lettering to surround such humorous cutaways as the bedrooms of various social classes and the long drop-tunnel leading to the Gong Farmer (the guy who scoops the poop). Quirky, sarcastic, and rather educational, too. Grades 1-3. --Daniel Kraus
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 8 years
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Flash Point; 1St Edition edition (April 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596431555
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596431553
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 0.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #612,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is good fun to read and I learned a lot while reading. There are plenty of jokes in there to amuse... My only complaint would be that it's quite long and I'm not sure how many kids could sit through reading the entire book. That said, it's quite possible to read sections of it as different people within the castle are dealt with in turn. The rhyming is great and the illustrations depicting funny facial expressions of the staff and servants in the castle make it an enjoyable read. I love the Gong Farmer, who has to shovel the noblemen's 'waste', and the cook who makes a feast out of giblets and gizzards and doesn't worry too much if the meat is cold or raw. Very entertaining!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this for my 5.5yr old boy because we live in Europe and visit castles quite frequently. I like the idea of the book, explaining the different duties in a castle. But it was much to long for my boy (both the text on the page and number of pages) and he quickly lost interest. Plus it uses so many big and old-fashioned words that I had to spend a lot of time on each page explaining what was happening. I hope he'll like it more in a couple years.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fantastical, funny, exquisitely illustrated book, I bought it for myself (an adult!) it is like an illustrated manuscript with wicked humor!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After waiting eagerly for this book to arrive, I was extremely disappointed when it came. But then, I'm a romantic... I should have been born in the Middle Ages.

Linda Ashman has a talent with poetry, I'll give her that. I found a few of her poems online and purchased this book because they were so well-written. But, out of all the poems in the book, I only liked four of them! The rest were so blatant in their mockery of that time-period that I was disgusted by them: it seems the author went to great lengths to expose all the nastiness of the Middle Ages and to make fun of their idiosyncrasies. I wonder if she realizes how much they could make fun of us?

I guess if you like that kind of mockery, then this book is perfect. But I was really disappointed. I would return it, but I am using the four that I did like in my drama class this year, so I don't think it would be right to send it back.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is full of humor, energy, and great insights into castle life in the Middle Ages. An entertaining read.
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