by David Macaulay

Hardcover, 2013



Local notes

623.19 Mac (c.1)



HMH Books for Young Readers (2013), 80 pages


Text and detailed drawings follow the planning and construction of a "typical" castle and adjoining town in thirteenth-century Wales.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

80 p.; 8.5 inches


0544102266 / 9780544102262



User reviews

LibraryThing member dylantanner
A step by step view of a castle being erected with amazingly detailed illustrations showing everything from turrets to toilets.

Children's Informational

I remember this book from my own childhood. Macaulay's series of architectural books, with their rich facts and exquisite drawings hold up now, 20 years later. It's just so engaing to follow the process and see all the extra details.

I feel like Macaulay's books are a must have for every classroom. He does what no one else does and takes a history of building and makes it technical and accessible. There is so much to learn here.
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LibraryThing member LibraryCin
3.5 stars. England is building a castle and surrounding town in Wales in the 13th century, and Macaulay explains and uses illustrations to show how the castles and towns were built. He tells a little story to go along with the explanation.

The illustrations are very, very good and do a fantastic job of pictorially showing what he is explaining in the text. It’s very interesting to learn about how these castles were built and why they were designed as they were.… (more)
LibraryThing member arielaver
The text in this book is interesting, but it is the detailed illustrations that hold my attention. For children interested in architecture or history or what life used to be like or drawing or...lots of other things, this book would be a good friend.
LibraryThing member nathanmannn
The book is based on an the imaginary Englishman Lord Kevin and his town of Aberwyvern. Lord Kevin is granted land in Wales and begins to build a castle for military protection and conquest. The book then proceeds to initiate the reader in the details of building a castle and fortifying it for military conflict with the Welsh.The illustrations are phenomonal in detail and depict the entire process of building a castle and the tools used for its erection and defense. Eventually the two countries learn to live with each other and observe each others customs side by side.… (more)
LibraryThing member ianracey
Castle is a children's picture book--but it's a children's picture book that was good enough to get made into a History Channel documentary. It was a runner up for the Caldecott Medal, the most prestigious award given annually for the best illustration of a children's book.

Castle details the construction of a castle at the fictional North Welsh town of Aberwyvern as part of King Edward I's famous strategy of cementing his conquest of Wales by building a series of massive, impregnable castles throughout the strategic points of the Welsh countryside, supported by colonies of English artisans planted within their walls.

Castle's story is told through beautiful, crisp pencil drawings and cutaway diagrams, and through text that, while easily understandable to its intended audience, does not talk down to children in any way and therefore remains succinct and informative to adult readers. From the initial selection of the river headland on which the castle is to be built, we follow the early stages of the construction of the keep, the arrival of the English colonists, the building of the town wall extending out from the keep to enclose the small town the colonists build in the keep's shadow and protect it from the hostile native Welsh, the castle and town's trial by fire as it must withstand a siege from a rebellious Welsh prince, and, eventually, Aberwyvern's fate as a bustling market town in mediaeval Wales, where Welsh and English both pass freely through the town gates, by which time the castle has fallen into disuse and is used as a quarry by townsmen seeking to build sturdier houses and shops.

It's often said that the best way for someone who's curious about a particular historical time period to learn about it is to get a children's book on the period--a good children's book will give you a clear, concise overview, explaining the basics and showing you enough that you'll know what areas you want to research more. When people give you that advice, Castle is the sort of children's book they're talking about.
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LibraryThing member cshaw
In this book, Macaulay illustrates and describes the step by step process of building a castle and town in 13th century England. It is based on castles and towns which were actually built to help with the conquest of Whales between 1277 and 1305. The drawings and maps superbly illustrate this planning and building process. While this is not my usual area of interest, I found myself drawn in by the interesting details.… (more)
LibraryThing member kerry.wood
Very informational on the history, construction, and design of a castle in Medieval Times. A great source for children interested in this period of time or as a source in the classroom during a period study. Appropriate for children in grades 1-6. Highly recommended as a source of history and as a general information book.
LibraryThing member cleverusername2
I reread this book after nearly ten years; it remains a brilliant educational and entertaining book. Macaulay once more uses his plot device of describing a fictional edifice, this being a kind of Platonic ideal of the Crusader-era medieval castle, framed within proper historical conflict of England’s conquest of Wales in the Thirteenth Century. We see the castle itself, the city walls, and a thriving town rise from it’s foundations in these pages with delightful and realistic illustrations. Young readers will enjoy learning how much effort and difficulty goes into the construction, and the details of how it’s inhabitants lived and how the fortress is defended.

If I could find one complaint it is how he speaks of the conflict in rather glossy terms, describing the inevitable way the welsh will mix with the English and how both will benefit from the stability the castle and it’s new associated town provide. Reality is far bloodier, but he does do us the favor of depicting the violence of welsh revolts in an exciting way that will draw in young readers.
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LibraryThing member jasongiles
Castle tells the story of the construction of a defensive castle and town. Macaulay creates a fictional story surrounding the construction. This helps move the book from a technical article to an engaging story.
In addition to outlining the construction and subtleties of the design of military castles it provides perspective on everyday life in a remote medieval England.
The text is well done, but the illustrations steal the show. The ink drawings are very readable and fun to study.
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LibraryThing member detailmuse
Castle is the story of building a castle and town in late-13th-century England. While I thought Macaulay's Cathedral was excellent on architecture, I wanted more context, and here he includes both. There are fabulous drawings, in perspectives from bird’s-eye to worm’s-eye and everything in between. And there’s background about the purpose of a castle (i.e. military, and not just defensive [to “resist direct attack and withstand a siege”] but also offensive [strategic “placement along important supply and communication routes” e.g. in the conquest of Wales]) and the purpose of the accompanying town (to “provide a variety of previously unavailable social and economic opportunities” that would benefit both the English and eventually the Welsh and promote peace). Excellent!… (more)
LibraryThing member Stbalbach
David Macaulay's Castle has been around since 1977, like an old castle it continues to have timeless appeal and will be a fixture in the reading landscape for generations. Castle architecture is a complex business and Macaulay chisels away at some of the interesting features, it's not as complex as Cathedral or Mill (my favorite), but accessible to young readers and interesting enough for adults. The fictional back-story restores important context that is often lost when looking at historical buildings: castles were built for a particular purpose, by a certain person, at a particular time -- having long outlived those times and people, they remain in our lives as permanent reminders of fleeting mortality.… (more)
LibraryThing member kateweber
Amazingly detailed black and white drawings accompany informative and interesting information about a fictional medieval castle and town in Wales. Information includes how the castle was built, how the toilets functioned, and how a siege against the castle might play out. The reading level seemed more for adults than children, but I guess if the interest is high enough, kids will comprehend the info. This is one of a series of books about different topics by David Macaulay.… (more)
LibraryThing member Harrod
I love this guys work
LibraryThing member mcivalleri
This "story" is really just a vehicle to relate much information about castles: how they are made, what they contain, why things are as they are, what use are they to a town and to a far away king, and how they can be defended. The details are numerous, but because the book is told as a story, it is not dry...I am fascinated by drawings of "how things work" so I loved the book. I think anyone reading this book will be interested in the specifics of how castles work, and enjoy reading it because it is presented in story form. A good book for a school library.… (more)
LibraryThing member JanelleVeith
An informative and interesting way to read history.
LibraryThing member nbmars
David Macauley has written a series of informative books about architectural wonders. Castle describes the construction of an imaginary castle in Wales, in order to illustrate the methods of the actual construction of actual castles built to aid in the conquest of Wales between 1277 and 1305. The imaginary town in which he locates his castle is also based on actual towns in that place and time. He writes: “This combination of castle and town in a military program displays both superior strategical skill and the farsightedness required for truly successful conquest.”

A glossary is included in the back of the book.

Evaluation: This book will more than satisfy both kids and adults curious about the amazing steps taken to create such enormous buildings without any modern equipment. Fine pen and ink drawings add to understanding the process.
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LibraryThing member npetzold
This is David Macaulay's book about the architectural process of building an English fortress. He goes through the steps with all the details, tools, people and possibilities involved, drawing amazing pictures to help you better understand. He includes dates that follow a timeline of the construction of Lord Kevin Le Strange's fortress which was completed and even resisted destruction.… (more)
LibraryThing member scote23
I thought it was okay. I'm not a huge architecture person, and I must admit I didn't read it with a lot of focus. The illustrations are awesome.
LibraryThing member gryphondear
Wonderfully detailed line drawings with explanations of why castle builders designed their buildings that way. Not just for children. A resource for architectural afficianado, historical novelist and/or D&D gamer.






(201 ratings; 4.3)
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