by Jessica Day George
Conditional Recommendation: 11-year-old Princess Celie and her siblings strive together within their magical castle to protect themselves and their kingdom.
Awards: Utah Book Award for Children’s (2011), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award for Grades 3-6 (2013), California Young Readers Medal for Intermediate (2015), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award (2015)
This is a book of suspense, political intrigue, family, and a dash of magic. After a mediocre start, this book takes off as event after event conspire against the royal children while they try to protect each other, their castle, and the future of the kingdom. This is the sort of good book that you try to read as fast as you can to discover what happens next.
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.
Hardship and uncertainty bind the siblings together, producing in them the fruits of teamwork, mutual care and respect. I loved the solidarity of their family unit and how they were always better together than alone—each person playing their part to support and strengthen their shared goals. My favorite aspect of this family is how they root for each other to overcome their enemies. Family is a strong theme in this book.
11-year-old Celie is the star of the show and I absolutely love how she grows from childish behaviors into a capable young lady who thinks of others, takes risks for her family, and does what’s right by her servants, her siblings, and the castle. She is an example of how trials can turn us into gold.
The fantasy element of this book can also be considered a character—the castle. It adds this wonderful element of surprise and mystery to the story and by the end of the book it feels like a friend. It operates as this all-knowing presence that has a will, preferences, and the power to influence the lives of the people within its walls. It’s an interesting character and one I think fantasy readers will enjoy.
The plot of this book is excellent—the pacing of the rising tension throughout the book is perfect and creates the enjoyable suspense readers crave from books. I was on the edge of my seat anticipating how the Glower children were ever going to prevail as problem after problem arose. Readers will enjoy the twists and climactic events of this hook-you-in plot.
After all the suspense and anticipation throughout most of the book, the ending feels sudden—but, sudden like the moment you fall into bed after a busy day, ready for a good, peaceful rest.
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