Volume 20 Number 6
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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