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Castle: How It Works

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  192 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Take a tour of a medieval castle.

Every part of the castle has a function. Walls keep the enemy out. Towers protect the lord and the soldiers. From the moat and portcullis to the great hall and dungeon, see how a castle works as an enemy army tries to storm the walls.

Castle: How It Works is a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2012
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by David Macaulay Studio
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  192 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Cynthia Egbert
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
If you have a child who has any interest in castles, knights, kings and queens, or history, this one is a terrific read. The illustrations really make things clear and the author outlines all of the most important parts of the castle, even the "bathrooms". ...more
Michael Fitzgerald
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: easy-readers
Surprisingly informative - a great introduction to the subject.
Very educational, and I would imagine it would be well received by its young intended audience. All aspects of life in the castle are covered, including the things that would interest kids, such as invaders and how they might attack the castle using a catapult to throw a dead flaming pig over the wall (with lovely illustration to boot) as well as details of life in the castle including where you went to the bathroom, where your poop went (with illustrations of the chute built into the wall,with ...more
Stephanie Pieck
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: print-braille
Bravo to an author who manages to make medieval history and engineering both engaging and fun to learn about. My favorite fact: "The priest is one of the few people in the castle who can read." I was also intrigued by the way rainwater was collected on the chapel roof. And at last, I have a clear understanding of a portcullis. I hope National Braille Press, the organization that produced the print/Braille version of this book, produces the author's volume on the cathedral. ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5-8, nonfiction
This book is constructed to educate children as to the importance of castles and what they are used for. It explains that castles were served primarily as military purpose that held lords and kings. Interesting book that will keep children engaged and eager to learn about this specific time in history.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like this book because castles are my favorite thing in the whole-wide history and I like them because murder holes, but I don't know what murder holes and I would give murder holes four stars. ...more
Very good nonfiction series for kids.
Lynn  Davidson
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting and educational, especially for anyone fascinated in medieval history (or movies) or knights and castles. Superb illustrations.
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
As an intro to a specific time in history, I thought this was excellent. Clearly the highlight was the page with the castle toilet.
Mar 12, 2021 marked it as read-to-jp
Single evening independent read.
Cathy Knight
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Categories/Genres for this class fulfilled by this book: Non-fiction, easy-reader

Copyright date: 2012

Estimate of age level of interest: K-3

Estimate of reading level: Dewey: 728.8; Int Lvl: K-3; Rd Lvl: 3.1

Brief description:

Identify at least 2 characteristics of this genre and subgenre and discuss how they appear in your book.
One characteristic of this genre is reduced vocabulary. The sentences are short and the vocabulary is simple. The illustrations clearly support the text with great detail.
Jordan Brown
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-etl-2368
Castle: How It Works
Author: David Macaulay
Reading Level: ages 6-10

Macaulay, David (2012) Castle: How It Works London: Macmillan

This book is a non-fiction look at how life was like inside a medieval castle. Also, the book focuses on the exterior and interior of the castle, and it's many defensive components. I have a particular taste for all things medieval, so this book really catches my interest.

First off, it's very informative and breaks down the infrastructure of a castle down brilliantly. T
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: early-chapter
Yay! A book my science-minded 8-year-old wants to read! It is hard to find a book that will keep him in his seat. But when our daily reading time was over today, he stayed put and kept turning pages. I love that this book has a higher reading level, without an overwhelming amount of text. Maccauley does an excellent job of assembling intriguing facts and infusing them with the perfect amount of story-telling. For example, he begins the book with the idea that a castle is meant to keep people out ...more
Jeanne Adamek
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely wonderful book to read to or with children that are interested in the past and castles. David Macaulay has a phenomenal way of explaining without talking down to a child. The illustrations are fantastic, very scrupulous done so that the child can follow with the pictures as well as with the words.

For me, it was the pleasure I got while looking in the bright eyes of my eight year old grandson as we were reading this together.

This book was recommended by my Goodreads friend Lorraine,
Christina Fisher
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Castles, because they are rarely lived in anymore and provide such grandeur to behold when inside, provide a very captivating book for kids of all ages. The author, David Macaulay, gives great insight using cutaways of castles (the inside and outside of them) so that kids can see what they are truly like and what the purposes were of their different features. The illustrations are realistic and show the castle being used, so that readers will know what life was like inside a castle. The drawbrid ...more
very informative in the David Macauley style; plenty of information to keep the young reader interested, and the illustrations add tremendously.

also, no glossing in this non fiction book, e.g. infected pig is ready to be catapulted into the castle.

book will challenge the adult reader b/c there will be plenty of questions.

although focused on the early/beginner reader, the text may be too difficult, and the print is too small.

but, enjoy, high quality work, by an excellent writer.
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Twin Text: The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

I chose these texts to go together because of the obvious castle tie in that is in both of the books. I like the fact that the non-fiction book gives you a somewhat tour of a castle during their prime time of existing, while the fiction book talks about forging a castle back up to try and escape it. I feel as if David Macaulay's book would give an insight about castles that the reader probably didn't know before picking up their fiction book t
A book about castles and how they work geared toward children. My son greatly enjoyed the pictures as it isn't quite reading yet.
The sentences were so short, they were almost choppy sometimes. Though I know it's for child readers with a little experience under their belts.
It was cool to learn about the outside of the castle and its fortifications and it's inner workings. I don't think it necessary to include information about a guy crapping, picture included, as well as 'murder holes', IMO. This
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how successful this will be as an easy reader, but I love it as a non-fiction title. The added color may make it more accessible to contemporary readers, but it retains all the great elements of the original. There is still the picture of the man on the toilet which was my kids favorite part, but now you can see that he pile at the bottom of he chute is brown--gross! Can't wait tot try this out with my kids. ...more
Lu Benke
As easy readers go, this isn't bad. It's just sad that the fun and detail of Macaulay's illustrations get chopped down to the size of easy reader format. The font, too, seems to be the wrong size (too small), and the lack of white space seems to make the pages look crowded and unclear. Still, the text is fun and fascinating and informative. Seems like it would have been better to keep everything in the original format. But then there wouldn't have been a whole new series to market... ...more
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Like some reviewers here, I also missed the richness and depth of Macaulay's illustrations, but there was still enough to intrigue. Also, it was refreshing in these days of political correctness to see a catapult hurling a dead, infected pig and and explanation of "murder holes." I very much like the concept of a nonfiction easy reader--the subject matter might inspire a reluctant reader to try a more challenging book about the same subject. ...more
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book fascinated our preschool and kindergarten set. Diagrams outline every aspect of a medieval castle in well drawn detail. Be prepared to answer the many questions that arise as children compare modern life and amenities to castle life. Reading and studying the book numerous times resulted in translating the drawings into amazingly well constructed sand structures! A strong contender for one of the best summer books brought home from Grandma's Library Run. ...more
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
The only thing standing between this book and a five star rating is my feeling that this is not really a book for a beginning reader. Easily a third grade reading level. That said, it is the best nonfiction castle book for early elementary I have ever read. And it will be appealing and informative even for those kids who are challenged by the syntax and vocabulary.
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, reader
Yea!! A Castle book just right for beginning readers. With a Lexile level of 500 this is a great read for the youngest grades.

Boys will especially like the description and drawings of the castle toilet. And the instructions on how to lay siege to the castle and breach the walls will most certainly be acted out many times, complete with catapult contents I’m sure!
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book for independent young readers, filled with fun and informative facts about castle defense. Students will learn so much about what obstacles an invading army would have to overcome if they wished to lay siege on a fortress. Castle, How it Works is perfect for additional elementary history curriculum, or for a nightly reading assignment.
An easy reader tour of a castle. Many vocabulary words are introduced and detailed illustrations make it easy to find the part of the castle being described in text. A fantastic book that will likely inspire further interest in the subject.
Perfect for 2nd graders - L read aloud to me, holds enough interest with a girl who loves watching Jane and The Dragon. Also we have recently watched the Narnia movie and were able to make quite a bit of connections.
Sara Wirth
Sep 19, 2013 rated it liked it
The pictures correlate beautifully to the text. Would be a lot of fun to pick apart the illustrations with kids. My only issue was with how the text was broken up. The flow of a sentence was often disrupted, which made it hard to concentrate and understand the information.
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was a great fit for Robby; although not technically an 'early chapter' the content was a bit more challenging than a typical PICTURE book...he loved how descriptive the text was and noticed many small details in the illustrations. Hope to find more like this at NCTE this year. ...more
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
This "Step reader" allows a person to take a tour of a castle while learning about the culture as well as the structure of a castle.

The appropriately simple text explains how each and every part of the castle serves a function.

The pictures are simple but effective.
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David Macaulay, born in 1946, was eleven when his parents moved from England to Bloomfield, New Jersey. He found himself having to adjust from an idyllic English childhood to life in a fast paced American city. During this time he began to draw seriously, and after graduating from high school he enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). After spending his fifth year at RISD in Rome on ...more

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