New Favorite: Tuesdays at the Castle

Princess Celie’s favorite day is Tuesdays. That’s because Tuesdays are the day that the castle most often gets bored, and grows a new room. Every Tuesday, Celie goes looking for these new additions, so that she can add them to her maps. Sometimes it’s a new room, sometimes it’s a shorter connection between rooms that are already there. Sometimes entire rooms or wings vanish, for no reason. No one knows why Castle Glower changes, just that it does. It doesn’t always happen on Tuesday, and it doesn’t happen every Tuesday, but it’s frequent enough so that Tuesdays are Celie’s favorite.

Even though Celie has an older sister and two older brothers–Princess Lilah, Prince Bran and Prince Rolf–Celie is the only one of her siblings who is interested in mapping the magical rooms of Castle Glower.  Everyone else, from the royal family to the chambermaids and stable boys just follow the two rules of the castle.  Rule One: The Throne Room is always to the east, and Rule Two: If you turn left three times and climb through the next window, you’ll end up in the kitchen, where the helpful kitchen staff will help you get to the Throne Room.  Celie is the only one who tries to figure out how Castle Glower works.  And it seems that the castle loves her for it…she gets flowers in her room when she’s sick, and comfortable furniture when she need it. In fact, everyone acknowledges that the Castle knows what’s best for the kingdom and for the royal family.

When Celie’s parents go away to attend Prince Bran’s graduation from The College of Wizardry, Celie, Lilah and Rolf must remain at the Castle.  None of them are very happy about it, but members of the royal family have a duty to the people, and that includes making sure that they aren’t all exposed to danger at the same time.  Unfortunately, even the much-loved Glower family has enemies who would enjoy taking over their kingdom.  Celie continues to work on her maps, tease her sister and have adventures with Rolf while they await the return of their parents and oldest brother.

But then the unthinkable happens. One of the soldiers returns with news of an attack in the forest: the King, the Queen and Prince Bran were all injured, and the rest of the soldiers were killed.  When the royal guard returns to the site, there is no sign of  the bodies. The King, The Queen and Prince Bran are declared dead, and Rolf, who was happily heir apparent, is suddenly to be crowned King Glower the Eightieth. Although Celie, Rolf and Lilah all staunchly declare that their parents and brother cannot be dead, Ambassadors from neighboring kingdoms start showing up at the castle, invited by the Royal Counselors.  The Counsel wants to crown Rolf as king immediately, marry off Lilah to a prince of a neighboring kingdom, and declare themselves regents.  No one quite knows what to do with Celie.

This is fine with Celie, because she seems to be the only one that notices that Castle Glower is changing. Secret passageways, new turns, even a brand new tower room supplied with spy tools, supplies and several mysterious objects have appeared overnight. Castle Glower is preparing to fight!  And so is Celie. Can a magical castle and one young princess , with the help of her brother and sister, several loyal servants and a few new allies manage to save the kingdom?  They are sure going to try!

* * *

I loved, loved, loved Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George.  It has twists and turns and magic…and that’s just the castle!  It also has a spunky young heroine and a great cast of characters.  There’s humor and mystery and political intrigue, as well as dangerous situations, creepy characters and even some slapstick comedy.  It’s a great read!

Jessica Day George has written several other popular titles: the Dragon Slippers, Dragon Flight and Dragon Spear trilogy, as well as Princess of the Midnight Ball and Princess of Glass, based on the fairy tale story  The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  She has been one of the authors whose books I’ve enjoyed very much in the past; but Tuesdays at the Castle is my new favorite.

If you’re a fan of books by Diana Wynne Jones or Patricia Wrede, you’ll love Tuesdays at the Castle. It’s a wonderful book that stands alone, but I’m crossing my fingers that we may see more of Celie, Rolf and Castle Glower in the future.  I’d recommend it to fantasy fans in grades 4 – 6, and it would be a great read-aloud for slightly younger kids.

So try Tuesdays at the Castle, and see what you think!

::Kelly::

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