cover image The Very Last Castle

The Very Last Castle

Travis Jonker, illus. by Mark Pett. Abrams, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2574-6

There’s an old castle in the middle of the town, a vestige from a time so distant that all that’s known about it is hearsay. Snaps, thuds, and hissing emerge from its walls, and community members surmise that it must be filled with monsters or giants or snakes. But a girl named Ibb is skeptical. “Maybe it’s something terrible,” she thinks. “Or maybe it’s something else.” She bravely reaches out to the lonely guardsman who patrols the walls and discovers that not only is he charming and friendly, he presides over a marvelous topiary garden. In short order, Ibb agrees to carry on the guardsman’s legacy and helps him make new friends in the town, and they turn the garden into a public space. Librarian, blogger, and debut author Jonker and Pett (Lizard from the Park) opt for low-key and thoughtful in words and illustrations. Minimal, unadorned text mixes with watercolor and pen-and-ink pictures to create an appealing protagonist who has an admirable, self-possessed curiousness and always wears big yellow boots—readers can almost hear her clomping confidently through the pages. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Stephen Barbara, InkWell Management. Illustrator’s agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (Oct.) [/em]