Author: David Macaulay
Major Themes: Architecture, Castles, England, Europe, Feudalism, Middle Ages, Wales
Synopsis: When the King of England presented one of his nobles with land in Wales, a castle and village had to be built to protect the land.
Ever since discovering David Macaulay’s books about architecture when I found them in a library when I was in my late teens, I have loved them. Each one describes the details of how a particular building was constructed, and includes the history of the place and time, as well. I just read Castle with my boys, and quite enjoyed it.
Castle describes the building of a castle and village in Wales, beginning in 1283 when the king of England gave land there to one of his noblemen. Over the next 10 years, moats were dug, walls built, and the inner and outer wards of the castle were constructed. At the same time, the village, with its cathedral and a wall surrounding it, were built. Each step has a page with a detailed drawing as well as a paragraph or two of description, which makes it very interesting.
One thing we enjoyed was some of the humorous details in the pictures. My boys were especially fascinated by the way the toilets were set up. They also liked figuring out how the drawbridge and the top of the wall worked. One page shows the various tools used in the construction, which was quite interesting, too. And then, toward the end of the book, we get to find out how the defenses worked—was the enemy able to get in, or not?
This is not only a wonderful book to go along with a study of the Middle Ages, it is also great for anyone who is at all interested in architecture. It’s also just a great kind of book to leave laying around for people to pick up and look at. Even non-readers can get a lot out of a book like this!
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15