cover image Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, Page

Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, Page

Richard Platt. Candlewick Press (MA), $21.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0489-9

The author of Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections: Castle uses a different approach to cover much of the same material in this fictive journal of an 11-year-old boy in the 13th century. Adopting a faux-medieval style--sufficiently different from modern English to evoke a historical setting, but sufficiently familiar to set readers at ease--Platt describes a year in the life of Tobias Burgess, a typical English page; he waits on patrons, learns lessons (Latin and the Scriptures, archery, horseback riding, and sword fighting), fights and plays with fellow pages. Tobias's wry observations focus as much on castle events as on his own role within them--the winter hunt (Tobias misses the kill, and what's more, gets lost on the way back to the castle), the springtime tournament (anxiously awaited, but a huge bore in the actual event), a summer visit from a high-ranked earl, etc. Riddell's (The Swan's Stories) abundant, adeptly detailed pen-and-watercolor illustrations are obviously not intended to pass for Tobias's work. Populating the pages of this oversize volume--in spot art, full-bleed and double-page spreads--his humorously dour characters are an inspired accompaniment to Tobias's less-than-glorious narrative. An informative and amusing introduction to the medieval world. Ages 9-13. (Sept.)