Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Reads: Tuesdays at the Castle

I ended this week with Jessica Day George's juvenile fantasy novel Tuesdays at the Castle. The story is about the royal family who reside in Castle Glower, a castle that has a mind and magic all its own. It's the castle that chooses the line of succession--oftentimes by physically expelling interlopers from its grounds--and the young princess Celie seems to have a particularly close connection with the castle. When Celie's parents are ambushed on their journey back to the castle, they are pronounced dead by the head of the royal council. Turns out, though, that despite acquiescing to crowning Celie's brother Rolf the new king, there are members of the council who seek to secure the throne for a cruel foreign prince. It falls to Rolf, Celie, their sister Lilah, and a few others loyal to the siblings' parents to defend the crown, and with it the castle.

The story in and of itself is a good, fairly exciting one. I do think the pacing was a bit lopsided: the buildup of action was lengthy compared to the quick resolution at the end. While that format and the more subdued action of the story might not suit young readers of high fantasy, though, I'm confident it will appeal to readers who appreciate quieter conflict and action. I'd suggest this book to young readers who may be hesitant to read anything with too much violence; who enjoy stories involving magic; and who may be looking to relate to the 11-year-old protagonist in her trying situations.

Also read this week: Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin. This juvenile/YA biography of the composer/conductor explores the boyhood and school years leading up to Bernstein's rather remarkable debut at Carnegie Hall at an historically young age. The book discusses Bernstein's father's criticism of music as a career path, Bernstein's dedication to music in every aspect of his life while growing up, and the instruction and support he received from musical greats. While I'd love to read more about what happens following that momentous concert at Carnegie Hall, I did enjoy getting to know more about the young man that became one of the most talented and recognizable figures in 20th century music.

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