Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
October 25, 2011; Bloomsbury
Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Cute. Sweet. Fun. Review finished.
Well, maybe not totally finished. You've probably read enough of my reviews now to realize that I am biologically compelled to use at least 20 words to say what could be said in 3.
Tuesdays at the Castle is an adorable middle grade fantasy novel. It is everything a book for late elementary through middle school girls should be. Whimsical, positive, adventurous, and featuring a strong female protagonist.
I loved Celie. She is the youngest princess in a happy royal family. She is kind, smart, funny, and self-sufficient. She's not so unrealistic that she doesn't sulk a little if she doesn't get what she wants, but she isn't the kind of girl who stays down. Celie is a loyal and loving little sister to Rolfe and Lilah. She is an excellent judge of character and has good intuition about what's right or wrong. I loved her tenacity, her ability to find creative solutions to challenges, and her knowledge of how best to respond to the castle's subtle messages. A lot of plucky girls like Celie come off as so precocious that they're annoying, but I never got that feeling from her. This is a little girl who I would love to know.
Rolfe and Lilah, Celie's brother and sister play major roles in the novel. The three characters work together, along with trusted friends, to discover whether their parents are still alive and who caused them harm. It seems like most books focus on sibling rivalry and arguments, so it was refreshing to see a story where the family gets along.
Celie is technically the star of this book, but really the hero is the castle itself. The castle is definitely a highlight of the novel. Reminding me greatly of Hogwarts, the castle changes itself, mostly on Tuesdays. I wonder what kind of building material it takes to create a castle with god-like omniscience. The castle is like Santa Claus: It knows when you've been bad or good - and it doles out toys and coal accordingly. I loved how Celie could tell who was a good or bad guy based on the size and condition of his room. Bad guys had tiny, plain room - which shrank the longer they stayed there, while the good guys relaxed in the lap of luxury.
Like many children's books, the plot arc in Tuesdays at the Castle isn't a big surprise. We all know how it's going to end, but the journey to get there is a lot of fun. There were never any big surprises, but the various twists and turns flowed smoothly. For the most part, the characters were very clearly good or bad. I would have liked a little more gray area, but that's not something I expect in a middle grade novel. Although I must say the level of badness of the guys trying to usurp the kingdom surprised me. Nothing comes to fruition (not a spoiler...you know nothing really bad is going to happen), but their intentions were definitely worse than a lot of children's novels.
Tuesdays at the Castle is a delightful book. If you're not used to reading middle grade novels, it may take some time to adjust to the different themes and characteristics of the genre, but once you do, the book is easy to enjoy. It features the best qualities of a fantasy novel for girls. I highly recommend it.