If you are teaching about
the Middle Ages or have a student/child who is interested in castles or
illustrations, these two books are just what you're looking for. Both include
illustrations---the type of
illustrations that beg to be poured over and pondered.
bring the era to life and communicate the
immensity and majesty of medieval castles and cathedrals...as well as
what a tremendous undertaking it was to construct them.
Using this book in a
class activity could be a little tricky unless you have an Elmo or some
other way to project the illustrations on the screen. If you can
overcome this obstacle, however, these books will be tremendous
Castle by David
fictional story of the construction of a magnificent castle in England,
strategically built on a bluff overlooking
the sea to assure continued domination over the Welsh. Readers witness
the castle's methodical construction in intricate pen-and-ink pictures.
Moats, dungeons, weaponry, and more are
explained in detail. In the end, the citizens and leaders of this
fictional castle community find weaponry and
defenses unnecessary, favoring cooperation instead.
Level: Grade 5+
Level: young adult
Lexile Measure: 1180L
people of a fictional French town plan and build a
cathedral after their church is destroyed by lightning. The reader
witnesses the construction of the beautiful edifice from viewing the
plans through the final addition of the towers. Accessible text is
paired with Macaulay's trademark highly detailed illustrations.
are sample pages from inside both books. The first two
illustrations are from Castle
and both demonstrate how the highly detailed illustrations are contain
numerous educational components. For example, in this first picture of
the castle's cathedral under construction, Macaulay has cut away part
of the roof to illustrate how it is made, plus included men at work
with ladders and pullies and scaffolding to show different construction
methods and materials.
The spread below shows and describes the gatehouse
sections of the castle walls. This was the most important part
of the castle's defenses due to their vulnerability, so great care was
taken in the construction of these structures. Macaulay includes a
cut-away view and describes the various defensive features such as the
heavy wooden door, the arrow loops, and the 'murder holes.'
The illustrations at right and below are from Cathedral, and
while these small versions should give you an idea of what the
illustrations look like, you really do have to see it in full book-
size to appreciate the intricate detailing involved.
The illustration at right depicts the unfinished cathedral during the
winter months. In the book, the page opposite this one describes the
work that was carried out
in small workshops during the winter months as well as which
activities had to be put on hold until spring. Integrating the impact
of weather on the cathedral's construction helps to further
fact that constructing a cathedral in the Middle Ages was not an
undertaking of months or years but decades and sometimes even
The spread below occurs early in the book and shows the floorplan
(left) and wall elevation (right) of the planned cathedral. Macaulay's
integrates many diagrams, unique angles, and dissected views of the
cathedral's various components (aka cut-aways). This allows the reader
to understand at a glance how buttresses worked, how the floorplan was
made to resemble a cross, how the foundation played a crucial role in
the integrity of the overall structure, etc...
The suggested reading level for these books is grades 4/5 and up. While
that range may seem too wide, Macaulay's books have a unique ability to
meet the level of the reader. These two books are full of
illustrations that communicate to various levels of reading ability.
Older readers will be able to take in more details and perhaps read
more of the accompanying text, but younger readers will glean a great
deal just from simply pouring over all the many detailed illustrations.