Wednesday, February 18, 2009


by David Macaulay

This is kind of a non-review. More of a discussion.

This picture book was the only book (other than The Way Things Work) that my husband enjoyed reading on his own as a kid. We bought it when we met the author at a signing recently, and I finally got around to reading it.

As an adult, I can appreciate what the book is trying to do: teach you how castles were built in England long ago. As a kid I am 100% sure I would have hated this book. The pictures, while fabulous, are black and white sketches, as opposed to full-color disney-style pictures. As a kid black and white = adult = boring. While I can appreciate them today (and I actually did enjoy them quite a bit), I would not have appreciated them even a little as a kid. And the story, really isn't a story so much as a description of each section of the castle as it was built. It's well done, but even today I found it a bit dry and ended up reading it in two sittings.

Contrast that with my husband who, as a reluctant reader, devoured this book. He checked it out every single time they went to the library. He read it over and over, and today he still thinks it's fabulous (and thinks I'm strange and offensive for differing from his point of view!).

I guess my point is to show how getting the right book in the hands of a reluctant reader might be all it takes to help turn them into a reader. This book would have done nothing for me as a child, but to my husband it opened his eyes to building and castles. Two of his most favorite things, even today. And, what higher recommendation is there than that?

PS my husband wants me to note that he doesn't consider Castle the book that helped him become a reader. At least if you define a reader as one who seeks out new books. That didn't happen until he discovered epic fantasy (Tolkein, Eddings, Jordan) in middle school. This book just encouraged him to practice at (and begin to really learn) a skill that he was lacking in and further fed his imagination.

1 comment:

Janssen said...

Isn't that interesting how it can totally work for one reader and fail so completely for someone else?

I think this book would have failed for me.