Title: Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess
Author: Richard Platt
Major Themes: Castles, Knights, Medieval Life
Synopsis: A young boy, sent to live for a year in his uncle’s castle, describes his life there.
I have read Castle Diary several times now, as part of Sonlight Curriculum’s history program. I still enjoy it! This is a delightful way to learn about life in a castle in England.
Eleven-year-old Tobias is sent to live for a year with his uncle in his uncle’s castle, to be a page. His mother sends him a journal, with instructions to write down everything that happens so he can tell her all about it when he returns home. He describes the school lessons he and the other pages must do, the tasks they are assigned, the fun they have, and the hunt he was allowed to go on. In the summer, he met a villager, who turned out to be a poacher, and witnessed the poor man’s trial. Throughout the story are goofy illustrations which bring the Toby’s accounts to life. This story certainly does not romanticize life in a castle—it was hard, cold, and uncomfortable. It also shows how hard life was for the people who did the work in the fields.
Castle Diary is a good supplement to a study of the Middle Ages. It offsets the romantic picture often presented by King Arthur stories or other stories about knights and castles. And, it’s quite interesting.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12