Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech (2007, 5 hrs.)

"Once there was a Castle, high on a hill,
and a King who longed for a nap
and a Queen who yearned for solitude
and a Prince who loved poetry
and a Princess who loved herself
and a Spare Prince who loved his sword
and a Hermit who was wise.

And there was a Village, down in the valley,
and a Peasant Girl who dreamed of flying
and a Peasant Boy who dreamed of horses
and a Master who dreamed of turnips
and an Old Woman who kept secrets."

Well, those verses pretty much cover this story, but of course I can ramble on a little more. This was a fable-like fairytale that was not wowish (surprisingly this is actually a word--no spell check underline), but homey. The story contrasts the lives of the inhabitants of the castle with two peasant children, Pia and Enzio, and how their lives come together due to a mysterious pouch that the children find and a couple of wise hermits. It is gently humorous at times and sprinkled with morals. I would suggest experiencing the actual book rather than listening to it as I did--after looking at the book at Amazon, I realized that there are beautiful illustrations that would make the story more enriching, and give it that medieval feel that all fairy tales deserve.

I must admit that I often view children's books mostly as tools to teach children values, and so that is often what I base my judgment on, more so than an exciting story. (Of course a good story helps put the lessons taught in an appealing package!) The Castle Corona touches on empathy, responsibility, and the power of imagination. It is one that I would read aloud to my children, with the beautiful illustrations to show.

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