First, a bit of business: Kidliterate now has a Facebook page, and I am giving away books every time we get a hundred new followers. When we got to 100, I gave away a complete set of Emily Jenkins' TOYS series in hardcover! So go here to like us on Facebook. Don't worry - we don't post often, so we won't be clogging up your feed!
Longtime readers of this blog (or shoppers at my former employer, The Bookstore That Shall Not Be Named) will most likely remember how unhappy I was when I learned that DRAGON SPEAR would be the last of Jessica Day George's books about the superlatively awesome Creel. And you may also remember that said book made my 2009 Favorites list (and that I again expressed my unhappiness about said series ending). Now, Ms. George has a good sense of humor, as her comment on that entry shows, and she did produce an awesome sequel to the gorgeous PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL (called PRINCESS OF GLASS), and is writing a third in that series.
So even though I still want more Creel (MORE!), I can't possibly stay mad at someone who writes these books I love so much. Because, my friends, she went and did it again - and not in a Britney type of way. This time, she's gone and created Princess Celie, and darned if I'm not head over heels again.
Celie lives in Castle Glower, where Tuesdays are amazing. Why, you ask? Because on Tuesdays, the castle gets bored and changes itself. It might rearrange some corridors, or add a new room or two, or stick an entire wing on one end, or pop on some new towers. That door you take to get where you go? Might not be there on Tuesday. It was certainly frustrating to some visitors, but "Celie truly loved Castle Glower. She never minded being late for lessons because the corridor outside her room had become twice as long, and she certainly didn't mind the new room in the south wing that had a bouncy floor. Even if you could only get to it by climbing through the fireplace of the Winter Dining Hall." And Celie felt like the Castle loved her, too. Whenever she urgently needed to be somewhere, she could usually get there quickly. When she was sick, the Castle filled her room with flowers. It left her snacks when she was hungry and led her to fun places when she needed something to do.
Not only does the Castle change itself when bored, it also changes itself to alter circumstances or to help a situation along. The current King, Celie's father, was chosen by the Castle. If the Castle furnished a visitor's room poorly, the guards knew to keep a close eye on them. It seemed like the Castle truly knew everyone and exactly what was going on, all the time.
So when Celie's parents and older brother disappear and she and her sister and younger brother are left alone with a Council that doesn't seem all that broken up about the vanished royals, it is to the Castle that the prince and princesses turn for help. But when the situation turns ever more dangerous and even the Castle seems unable to help, will Celie be able to save her family?
This is a GREAT read-aloud. It's also perfect for kids who love Gail Carson Levine or Jean Ferris or E.D. Baker. This is younger than Ms. George's other books, though fans of DRAGON SLIPPERS will find much to love here. I love feisty, whipsmart Celie and the motley band of allies she assembles under the watchful eyes of the Council scoundrels. I love how she learns and grows during the book but the learning and growing is all wrapped in rollicking adventure and secret passageways and spying and the most awesome Castle in kids' books. I love her relationship with her siblings, especially Rolf, the king's heir. I love how when you read this book, you can go from heart-pounding excitement to loud laughter on the same page.
AND it's the first book of three, so we've got two to go, and then you can all be mad with me at the end. At least until Jessica Day George pulls another awesome heroine out of her seemingly endless bag of tricks. **Correction - Ms. George tells me that she doesn't know how many books there will be about Castle Glower, and that it's not intended to be a trilogy. Sad face. Well, I love this one, and will be hopeful of more!**