The Castle in the Attic. A fantastical kingdom, magic castle, a true knight, fiery dragons and amazing adventures? Absolutely! This magical story is grounded in the reality of William’s life, a ten-year-old boy who is sad to see his British nanny move back to her homeland after taking care of William for so many years. But her final gift is a castle, handed down through generations – and a lead knight which never came to life for her, but suddenly the legend is real and William holds a tiny, brave and fiercely alive knight in his hands. William has many choices in front of him. With magic, he figures out how to make things shrink, becoming part of the castle world. He also has to say good-bye to Mrs. Phillips. What will he do? And once he makes his choice, will he be able to fix things and make everything right again?
There are several great things that I love about this book. First off, it is an enjoyable and readable adventure that keeps the reader guessing. William is a likable and interesting character, leading readers into his story. Another plus with this book are the lessons learned – William learns many valuable and important character lessons along the way, but never heavy-handed and always an integral part of the story. The lessons he learns are authentic. Young readers will immediately pick up on the things he learns and the changes he undergoes as he tries to solve the problems he encounters (and sometimes creates, oops!). This is definitely a great read for kids in the 3rd-6th grade range and will appeal to boys and girls alike.
What lessons does William learn along the journey? What does Mrs. Phillips teach William?
- The power of honesty.
- A true friend is always your friend, even if they are far away (and sometimes you have to let a friend go on their own journey even if you want them to stay).
- Kindness and helping others is always important.
- Sometimes you have to trust other people.
- Practice is important – just because you don’t get something right the first time is no reason to quit.
- Confidence is something you have within yourself.
Fabulous Quotations for Discussion
- “‘But I’m here so that lady can go free,’ William said, his voice powerful in the silent room. He took another step toward the mirror. It no longer scared him. It showed him only what he already knew.” (page 158)
- “You must find your own way through the forest, William. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you all along. In this one and our old one.” (page 103)
- “You have within you the weapon you need. The heart and soul of a knight in the body of a squire. No other weapon will serve you as well as that knowledge.” (page 104)
- “A truly courageous person is the one who must first conquer fear within himself.” (page 173)
Castles on the Web This website is great for all things castle related – photos, glossary of terms, myths and legends, weapons and supplies, even a castles for kids page.
The Castle in the Attic has me thinking more and more about fantasy books at the middle grade level! What are your favorites?