Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Castle Corona
By Sharon Creech
Illustrated by David Diaz
Most enjoyed by 4th through 8th graders

"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."

So begins this tale by Sharon Creech. Does it sound a little like 'The Tale of Despereaux'? It does, and in the first few chapters, they seem very similar. But the stories are actually quite different. While 'The Tale of Despereaux' is a fairy tale, 'The Castle Corona' feels almost like reading a legend.

Pia and Enzio are fetching water at the edge of the river when they hear the King's guard rushing by shouting 'Thief! Thief!' They hurry to hide in the trees only to discover a brown leather bag bearing the King's seal hanging from a tree branch. Could this be what the thief stole? Meanwhile, in the Castle Corona, life continues in it's slow way. King Guido longs for a nap whenever trouble arises, Queen Gabriella longs for quiet to ponder the world, Prince Gianni can't trouble himself to learn his lessons, Prince Vito wishes only to use his sword in fighting an enemy, and Princess Fabrizia worries about her looks and her dresses. When word of the thief reaches the castle, it's residents are shaken from their quiet, dull lives. As the King tries to find the thief, Pia and Enzio try to decide what to do with the stolen pouch. What it contains, and the mystery of the thief's identity keep the characters in pursuit until the end.

If you like stories from long ago, tales of princes and princesses, royalty and peasant, rags to riches, you'll enjoy 'The Castle Corona'. It is unlike Sharon Creech's other books which tend to include more life-like characters and situations. But the tale is still enjoyable, so enter the castle gates and see what lies within.

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