cover image Max’s Castle

Max’s Castle

Kate Banks, illus. by Boris Kulikov. FSG/Foster, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-39919-1

Imaginative Max, who first appeared in Max’s Words, discovers that a whole new world can unfold from one simple discovery—in this case, a wooden letter block. Using more blocks, Max builds an enormous castle. Max and his two brothers enact a kind of three- dimensional Scrabble game, in which the words they spell explode into life. “ ‘I will turn your sword into words,’ said Max. ‘And this spear will become pears.’ ” (Max, as king, has a pacifist streak.) The stern of an approaching vessel spells “p-i-r-a-t-e-s,” but with the flick of a wand, Max transforms it into a grinning rat holding “rat pies.” Kulikov’s chalky, boldly lit illustrations have a bright energy that feels almost improvisational, working in seamless harmony with Banks’s nimble wordplay. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)