Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Castle in the Attic - Elizabeth Winthrop (audio)

Another quick and sweet audio, selected at the library without much knowledge on its plot. From the description on the back, it reminded me of "The Indian in the Cupboard" which is one of my favorites.

Ten-year-old William lives a relatively normal life. He loves gymnastics, he gets good grades, he likes to hang with his BFF. He doesn't see a whole lot of his parents due to their work schedules, but has his nanny, Mrs. Phillips, to keep him on the straight and narrow. But when Mrs. Phillips decides it is time to return home to England, William is inconsolable. As a going-away gift, Mrs. Phillips presents William with a beautiful miniature castle, complete with a working drawbridge, stables and a silver knight. One day when William visits the castle, which is kept in the attic, the silver knight, Sir Simon, comes to life, and explains that an evil wizard has put a curse on him, keeping him the size of William's index finger. Sir Simon has a magical coin that can shrink others to his size, but doesn't work in reverse until the wizard's spell is broken.

Hmmm...William starts to scheme, and decides to shrink Mrs. Phillips to keep her from leaving! As one might imagine, Mrs. Phillips is not happy. William guiltily admits he must do whatever it takes to reverse the wizard's curse, in order to free his beloved nanny and Sir Simon, and save them both from a life cooped up in his attic eating crumbs and roasting mice.

William allows Sir Simon to shrink him, and enters a magical fantasy world of a vicious dragon, an evil wizard, a greedy old hag, and humans that have been turned to lead. William bravely battles all obstacles thrown in his way, freeing everyone living under the wizard's curse. He even learns to believe in himself along the way.

While this is not a unique story...it is reminiscent of all of our favorites...it is sweet and entertaining. It is safe for all ages, although the teen crowd would probably think it silly and too juvenile. My kids, ages 9 and 11, however, loved it. The audio has a cast of characters that do a phenomenal job of narration, which I think was the highlight. There are positive messages, an escape into fantasy, and no marginal language I have found recently with the kids' audios. There isn't even a hint of an innocent crush. Very refreshing!
3.5 out of 5 stars


Melody said...

I love the premise!
I can't imagine living in a small world! Must be real terrifying!!

Unknown said...

Did this author write December? They both have the same name, but I can't work out if they are the same person.

I think I'll leave this one - at least until my boys are old enough to listen to it.

Beth F said...

Sounds like a good one -- I'll keep it in mind for gifts when I have someone to buy for who is of the right age.

The Bumbles said...

Hmmm, I would just like to know how Sir Simon got his knighthood if he couldn't take care of the wizard's curse himself. I do think it is funny that the nanny was shrunk to keep her around. I would think usually kids would want to shrink someone to punish them or feed them to the pet! You can see the kind of children's books I would write ;0)

Jeane said...

I know a long time ago I read a book about a kid who shrunk so he could go inside the toy castle in his room- but I'm not sure if it's the same book. Mostly because I don't recall a nanny. Did he go up a staircase made of books to get into the castle?

bermudaonion said...

This sounds so good. I wish I'd thought about audio books for car trips when my son was young.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should say that! When I saw the cover, the first book I thought of was "The Indian in the Cupboard" - great review!

Sandy Nawrot said...

It has been one of those days folks, so I am quite sorry it has taken me until 9:27 to respond!

Melody - it is like a kids' dream come true, isn't it?

Jackie - I have no idea what this author's other works were. It was an impulse grab at the library. I would say kids over 5 and under 13 or 14 would love it.

Beth - I was entertained, and the kids loved it. Plus it is a quick one!

Bumbles - Well, now that is a good question! Apparently there was a prophecy that stated only a young boy could break the curse! You can't fight prophecy, man! I think I'd like to read your children's story!

Jeane - it wouldn't surprise me to find out there are many combinations to the general plot out there. I don't think there was a staircase of books...

Kathy - I have found this to be the way to go. When you get hold of a good one, they are rapt, no fighting, no whining!

J. Kaye - I guess I'd say that Indian had more meat on its bones, but we thoroughly enjoyed this little romp!

Toni said...

Sandy I think this sounds great. I am adding to my list of stories to share with my grandson. Thanks for the reminder of The Indian in the Cupboard also.

Unknown said...

Oops living in small world is horrible i can't just imagine..
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