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Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, Page

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cover art Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, Page
Scholastic, Inc.
Castle Diary, by Richard Platt, is an oversize book for 9 to 13 year olds. It is filled with lively and accurate illustrations by Chris Riddell. The book purports to be the thirteenth century journal of a child, 11-year-old Tobias Burgess, and covers the year 1285, which he spends as a page at the castle of his uncle, John Burgess, Baron of Strandborough.
Castle Diary, a 60-page book is profusely illustrated in ink and watercolor and features a number of detailed full- and double-page illustrations. These include two-page-wide (measuring 13" by 19") colorful renderings of the castle, the hunt, a tournament, and the wheat harvest, as well as numerous full page and smaller illustrations featuring the inhabitants of the castle.

The size of the pages in Castle Diary and the quality of the illustrations make the book an excellent choice for a classroom or group. Because it is divided into daily journal entries, it also works well for students as a read-aloud that can be read in segments. The medieval period is one that tends to capture the imagination of children and adults alike.

The author, Richard Platt, who has written a number of nonfiction books for children on related subjects, provides a great deal of accurate historical information, which is reinforced by the illustrations. Notes at the end of the book provide interesting background information on "Toby's World." A glossary and index add to the book's usefulness for your child.

Toby's language is distinctly different from today's English, immediately setting the scene for the medieval period. The book, while written in diary form, also has chapter headings highlighting Toby's activities, such as learning the tasks of a page, his first hunt, a joust, archery practice, and Christmas festivities. While the text is not as lively as the artwork, it, too, paints an interesting picture of life in a medieval castle. The hardcover edition of Castle Diary was published by Candlewick Press in 1999, with the softbound edition published in 2001. While I particularly recommend Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, Page for children 9-13, I also think it's a good read-aloud for younger children intrigued by the time period and castle life. You should be able to find this book at your public library. A reprint edition is also available. (Candlewick Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780763604899)

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