Picture books are always a fabulous source for inspiring children’s imaginations and Kings of the Castle by Victoria Turnbull (published by Templar Publishing) does that perfectly.
It’s night time and we’re at the seaside with a little monsted named George and his dog, Boris. George wants to spend the whole night building the biggest sandcastle anyone has ever seen when all of a sudden a strange looking creature appears from out of the sea. But how will they communicate? They try speaking but that gets them nowhere. They almost give up hope until they realise that words aren’t always needed.
This is such a beautiful story of friendship and togetherness, all wrapped up in a dreamlike world of beautiful illustrations. The colour palette changes as the story moves from dusk through to dawn. Gorgeous shades of blues, purples and greens make way for warming oranges and yellows with a fabulous array of bright stars like pin pricks in the dark sky.
The story is told through a clever mix of text, speech bubbles, pictures and comic book style grids which perfectly reflect the development of the relationships between the characters who are communicating in so many ways.
This opens up so many avenues to discuss what is happening and what might happen. There is a lot left unsaid in this story; we don’t know what George is, where he’s from or what he usually spends his nights doing but that only serves to make this book more precious. You can really let your imagination run away.
I really love the way the friendships develop and this is my favourite image from the book; tired, content and oh so comfortable.
My three-year-old was completely entranced by the world that Victoria Turnbull has created. We read it at bedtime and I like to think he went off to sleep imagining these friends getting ready for their night out at the seaside. There is a double fold out page in the middle, I won’t spoil it by describing what it reveals but I wish I had recorded the reaction of my boy when we opened it. There was an intake of breath, then a small laugh as he couldn’t contain his surprise and wonderment. This is what sharing picture books with your children is about, you hope that they take it in, that their imaginations are being fired up but when you actually see it… well, to say it is truly heart-warming probably doesn’t even cover it.
Many thanks to Templar Publishing for sending a free copy of this book to review.Follow @Acornbooks