Castle of Books

Castle of Books

by Bernard Clavel, Yan Nascimbene
     
 

Benjamin dreams of building a castle. His father dreams of writing a poem. As father and son work independently to turn their dreams into reality, they discover that only with each other's help will they succeed. This whimsical tale, paired with beautifully textured illustrations, is a lovely and unique tribute to books and to the bond between fathers and sons.  See more details below

Overview

Benjamin dreams of building a castle. His father dreams of writing a poem. As father and son work independently to turn their dreams into reality, they discover that only with each other's help will they succeed. This whimsical tale, paired with beautifully textured illustrations, is a lovely and unique tribute to books and to the bond between fathers and sons.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An enterprising boy builds a castle out of books in this fanciful tale, which shouts with potential but never quite finds its voice. As young architect Benjamin works in secret, his bibliophilic father, busy writing a 4,512-verse poem, does not notice that the large castle taking shape in their small courtyard is constructed with tomes from his colossal collection. French author Clavel's story line progresses through lengthy chunks of text while Nascimbene's (The Beautiful Christmas Tree) watercolors excel at concisely linking the boy's lofty construct with its earthbound components. His rectilinear forms and contrasting use of light and shadow showcase the rising tower of books against the drab city walls. As Benjamin's father unwittingly removes books from the castle walls, he leaves a series of "slender beam[s] of light," creating an almost mystical scene of the castle interior. Despite the unique perspective and depth of the paintings, some seem incompatible with the text. For instance, after mice nibble the father's discarded-in-frustration poem, they recite it, but the facing illustration is of an empty, darkened courtyard. Following the recitation, father and son both realize that, "Like the books in Benjamin's castle, the words worked together to form something magnificent." Unfortunately, the illustrations and text of this quirky tale do not do the same. Ages 4-11. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Benjamin lives in a house so full of books that "Just getting around-exercise[s] his imagination and cause[s] it to grow bigger every day." His father, intent only on writing poetry, is unaware that, little by little, his son is removing the books to build his imagined castle in the courtyard behind the house. When the child finally finishes the structure, his father removes some of the volumes in order to retrieve words for his poem. But 4512 verses later, the poet is disgusted with his work and trashes it, while at the same time, a storm destroys Benjamin's castle. Only when mice eat the discarded pages of the poem and begin to recite it do father and son recognize their own and one another's talents. The picture of Benjamin on the title page reading a huge volume about castles gives readers immediate insight into the youngster's passion. Small, whimsical watercolor cartoons and text appear on the left, and large paintings bordered in white are on the right. Books and writing materials spill onto the pages, out of the frames, even up to the sky. Dark hues emphasize the father's discouragement and the storm's destruction. While the power of words and books to create beauty and fuel imagination is an important message to give youngsters, this story is a confusing fantasy that strains credulity. Offer them Sarah Stewart's The Library (Farrar, 1995) instead.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811835015
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
02/28/2002
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
1.00(w) x 1.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
1 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Bernard Clavel has published more than eighty books, and his titles have been translated throughout the world. He has received numerous literary awards. He lives in France.

Yan Nascimbene has illustrated more than thirty books, including A Day in September, Ocean Deep, and The Beautiful Christmas Tree by Charlotte Zolotow. He lives in Northern California.

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