I am really very excited about this review, it’s true. There have been many spectacular picture book releases already this year, but this one, this one feels a little bit special.
It is Kings of the Castle, written and illustrated by Victoria Turnbull and published by Templar.
I had picked up on some gentle yet excitable whisperings about this book floating across Twitter. It seemed it was stirring people up quite a lot, so I was extremely happy when, curtesy of Templar Publications, this very book landed with an elegant thump on my door mat.
This is a simple story of George, who, at the beach one day decides to build an amazing sand castle. His pet, Boris, however completely scuppers George’s grand plans. As George sits and sulks, out of the sea comes a very strange looking creature, Nepo. Initially communication proves a problem between them and George decides they won’t get on. But with a little persistence and a helping hand from Boris, they soon overcome this, showing that barriers need not prevent friendships. Together, with friendship, hard work and a sprinkling of imagination, they build a sand castle to make all monsters green eyed with envy.
It’s a truly lovely and sweet story. I know working in a library I often see young children, some too young to talk, some speaking in different languages become friends and play quite happily together. It’s a lovely thing and this book is the perfect example of this. An ideal way of demonstrating how we can come together regardless of our differences.
Victoria has written the book in a very simple and straightforward style. Though don’t be fooled into thinking this would be easy to do. Every word serves a particular purpose with no unnecessary waffle. She just tells the story as it is, and it works so pefectly! Reading it out loud is very calming and relaxing, but the addition of speech bubbles used sparingly throughout allow you the option of adding character to any readings of this book to children. Perfectly balanced.
I have to say though, that the first thing that struck me about this book, without question were the illustrations. I’m not going to mince my words here, they blew me away! I feel like I recognise the overall look, yet I’m struggling to put my finger on where from. If anyone has any ideas please do comment and let me know! They certainly seem to have a certain retro feel to them. And the sea illustrations reminded me a little of The Great Wave of Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai. Soft and full of atmosphere. My photos seriously do not do them justice.
The muted colour palette throughout the book is lovely, and again adds to the calming and gentle feel of this book. But the lighting is just incredible. Carefully placed shadows and subtle change in colour scheme create a very special and magical feeling to the illustrations as the story progresses through night until dawn. It feels unique to the picture book world, I’ve certainly not come across one in this style before.
Each page of Kings of the Castle is a breathtaking work of art making it my favourite illustrated book of 2016 so far! Coupled with expert and gorgeous storytelling this is one for every picture book fan’s bookshelf, young or old!
You can find Victoria Turnbull lurking around the internet on this lovely and beautifully illustrated website:
Thank you for reading this rather special Book Monster review.