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Julie Lawson
Illustrated by Frances Tyrrell
Don Mills (Ont.), Oxford University Press, 1992. 32pp, galley, $16.95
ISBN 19-540842X. CIP.

Kindergarten to Grade 6/Ages 5 to 11

Reviewed by Edith Strocen.

Volume 20 Number 6
1992 November

What a beautiful book! Julie Lawson, author of The Dragon's Pearl, has patterned her story-poem on the familiar "This is the House that Jack Built." The setting is the seashore and the items that accumulate are sea things: sand castles, moats, shells of all kinds, anemones, starfish ... the list goes on. Lawson has used rich, descriptive words to enhance the rhythm and to fire the imagina­tion. The rhythm of the story flows easily and happily and reinforces the feeling of a care­free beach scene.

A little blond girl, wearing a white sun-suit, serves as the main focus for the illustra­tions. She digs in the sand, builds castles, decorates the castles with found shells and sea glass, and visits the anemone pool.

The illustrations by Frances Tyrrell are delicate, detailed water-colours with the blues of sea and sky and the browns of the sand predominating. The illustrations on the right of the double-page spreads are all in colour, while the majority of the ones on the left are in a greyish-blue shade. The reader soon realizes that the left side shows reality while the right is an imaginary scene projected by Kate. The sand castles and moats are more elaborate, a whale and mermaid come to visit, and the castle actually increases in size so that Kate can enter. Each illustration is framed with shells or snails.

Physically, Kate's Castle is a comfortable 20.5 x 26 cm, with an eye-catching front cover and sandy-hued endpapers.

Kate’s Castle would be an excellent book to add to a school library to use as support material for thematic teaching on the sea and summer season, and as a good patterning book. Its heaviest use is likely to be in the Primary grades.


Edith Strocen is a librarian at Greenway School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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