Middle grade books are great palette cleansers between rich fantasy series. When I stumbled on this little gem I couldn’t help consuming it quickly… check out why…
Tuesdays at the Castle
Castle Glower #1
by Jessica Day George
Published October 25th 2011
Princess Celie is 11 years old and the youngest daughter of King and Queen Glower. She loves Castle Clower and has developed a special relationship with their home while creating an atlas of all the changing rooms added every Tuesday. When her parents refuse to allow her to accompany them to her older brother’s graduation at wizarding college she is quite put out to be left at the castle with her good-natured brother, Rolf, and bossy sister, Lilah. The 3 siblings work together with the castle to prevent neighboring kingdoms from taking over their country.
To be frank I fell in love with this book during the first chapter! The premise captured me right off. It is just what I would have consumed as a girl! The castle is sentient and has chosen its royalty back to their great, great, great grandfather the butcher. The castle knows the best way to freeze out those that do not have the country’s best interests at heart. I also loved how the castle would and could change at a moments notice and that there were special paths to get places the fastest.
What kept the book from getting boring is that the siblings each played their part as a bigger whole that is their family. Rolf had to assume the position of king and work to keep the diplomats in check. Lilah worked behind the scenes doing all the things that needed doing, basically all the grunt work it takes to care for a staff as large as theirs. And Celie worked with the castle to gather the information they needed to stay safe. This entailed many interactions with the players endangering them. They had to determine who was a threat and how to combat them. The castle played a major role in indicating to them key ideas, ideas they had to work out through the clues given them. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story.
There is a large cast of characters that are villains and would be villains. It isn’t cleanly black and white but some of the characters make bad decisions and then repent of their actions while others appeal to have other motivations but due to Celie’s charm chooses to help her. Despite this large cast everyone was easy to keep track of – the descriptions were that good! The plot was simple but not basic. There were definite advances and obstacles along that way that they had to deal with together as well as through help from their allies. Sometimes their actions were all that three children could do where adults have taken control and I loved that! No kids acting like grown ups in this book, though they were quite brave, discerning and worked together.
Really every child should get to experience this book… not because Celie has the typical family with one mother and one father but because she shows what it means to be part of a family. When she loses her father and mother and older brother she keeps it together, she doesn’t take out her feelings on her family but works to act in a manner befitting a princess who loves her castle and her kingdom and can’t see it in the hands of bad men. The only problem I see in this well written story is that everything ended up well with the family and the castle, it may appear to be too pat.
BOTTOM LINE: A strong family adventure saving one’s home!
Celie was exactly the right POV to follow! I really enjoyed her narrative because she was so passionate about the castle and her love was quite evident. She was willing to tackle any task and yet she was still a child, she knew she couldn’t do everything alone just to be the hero so she used her judgement and trusted the castle’s signs. She made the whole experience quite suspenseful and while the end was clear cut and perhaps obvious with her winning the day we didn’t take the straight path but meandered around the castle!!