Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Rating: PG; 5 stars
Summary: Castle Glower is not an ordinary castle. Every Tuesday, it grows and changes, sometimes adding adding rooms, sometimes a whole wing! Celie, the smallest of the royal children, is the only person who has ever tried to map Castle Glower. Unknown to Celie and almost everyone else in the castle, her detailed knowledge of the castle's layout will soon become important to the survival of Castle Glower!
Opinions: This book was nothing like the blurb said it would be. To start, it was a lot darker. When you *SPOILER ALERT* kill off the beloved King and Queen (Dad and Mom, to our young protagonists) in chapter 4 *END SPOILER*, things are going to be a little darker than your average middle-grade novel. I got the impression, based on the blurb, that this book was going to be more about how no one understands Celie's interest in how the castle grows and changes. This impression was...rather off. BUT. Do not let that deter you from reading Tuesdays at the Castle. This is an excellent book.
The writing style in Tuesdays at the Castle reminded me a bit of The Tale of Despereaux; it contained that same magic that makes Despereaux so loved. I dunno what it is, but I'm suddenly finding a whole slew of fantastic middle-grade books that are all written with this same magic. I don't know if it's the audience, or the genre, or what, but I like it!
I found the characters in Tuesdays at the Castle to be well developed. I was consistently surprised by how they reacted to different things, but not in a bad way. The book is pretty short, so there wasn't really a lot of room for character back-story. Still, George managed to write logical character responses that still managed to surprise, which is no small feat.
I loved the twists and turns of the plot. At times, I felt that I was actually in Castle Glower, because the plot took me in so many interesting directions that I never would have suspected. I suppose this is in part because of how I misunderstood what the book was about, but I do think that the majority of it was simply a very skillfully handled plot.
I gave this book a PG rating because it is a little bit dark. There's a bit of violence and general darkness that really small kids might not be able to handle very well. However, I firmly believe that any child who is old enough to read chapter books would fare fine with Tuesdays at the Castle. I would recommend not reading it to a three-year-old. I gave it 5 stars because I really and truly enjoyed this book. I read it essentially in one sitting, and I enjoyed every page of it. This is a wonderful book, and I think it would make an especially good family read. If you like fantasy for children, Tuesdays at the Castle is a lovely, fun little book.