This enjoyable romp turns mischief into political action and a stone palace into a cunning character.
Castle Glower always chooses its own king, and its current is Celie’s father. Celie’s family knows the castle’s rules—for example, no matter where you are, “if you turned left three times and climbed through the next window, you’d end up in the kitchens”—so they navigate fine, even when Castle Glower gets bored of a Tuesday and grows a new room or hallway. When disaster strikes, the castle’s protective love becomes paramount. Celie’s parents and eldest brother Bran are reported killed in an ambush, leaving three siblings at home to fend off a foreign prince who’s trying to assassinate Celie’s brother Rolf and steal the crown. Pranks such as spreading manure on the soles of shoes and snipping threads so the baddies’ clothes fall off make the siblings (and readers) giggle, but underneath the capers lies a bit of deftly written grief and fear. Luckily there are comforting clues: If King Glower were really dead, wouldn’t this sentient, active castle have adapted heir Rolf’s bedroom into a king’s room? Instead, the foreign prince’s rooms become ever smaller and bleaker, proving the castle’s disapproval; but Celie and sibs still need to win the day. Never fear: These kids are clever, as is George’s lively adventure.
May pique castle envy. (Fantasy. 8-11)