Double the trouble, double the fun

Did you ever watch those cheesy Double Mint chewing gum commercials with glowing pics of identical twin girls doing ordinary things while they popped their stick of gum?  And, of course, some super impressed teen boy doing a double take.  I don’t remember when they aired, but I get a sappy eighties vibe from them. Anyway, today I’m doing a double feature!  This because I couldn’t decide whether to discuss the first or second in Jessica Day George’s lovely books about Castle Glower and young Celie, the princess who knows the castle best. tuesdays at the castle cover Wednesdays in the Tower cover I discovered Jessica Day George when my daughter fell in love with Dragon Slippers (or, maybe I picked it up, and she stole it from me?) and have been a fan of her books since.  I haven’t read a book she’s written that I didn’t enjoy, and though they vary quite a bit in tone and tenor, they somehow all still hang together as books with Ms. George’s particular touch.  That said, I think her latest book, Wednesday’s at the Tower, was best at making me crazy to read the next.  A third book in the series which, unfortunately, is not written yet.  And I’m also finding myself feeling for the Glower children the way I do about my nieces and nephews, or the children of my dear friends.  As if they are a little mine, with just one step removed, and I have a vested interest in their future and seeing that they grow up well. This is a peculiar degree of attachment, even for me, and so I decided that it was past time they get a spotlight on the blog. So, what are the books like?  Well, they’re all about a family of four siblings, who have parents (most unusual in middle grade fantasy, I know!) but are nonetheless out of the picture in both books enough for the kids to have adventures.  Part of how this is managed is through the castle itself, which is both sentient and a semi-active participant–you might say instigator–in the children’s adventures.  The stories are both told from the perspective of Celie, the youngest of the four, but still feels very much as if they belong to all four Glower princes and princesses. Part of the charm is the interaction amongst the siblings, which is both sweet and endearing while also realistic in that they don’t always entirely get along, and they are all very different from each other with their own unique hopes, dreams, strengths and foibles.  Another plus of the book is it’s ability, rather like the Harry Potter books, to take familiar fantasy tropes and known adventure groundwork and add that particular twist which makes it all feel new and interesting.  In this way, the framework and world feel almost as familiar (to a lover of fantasy) as our own world.  And yet, there is still the tingling sense of discovery and fresh imaginings that we so love in our fantasy stories. But in the end, these are books which are hard to dissect and pare down to their essential ingredients, from which a divisible tally is reached.  They are more than the sum of their parts, and that’s probably why I love them. Now, let’s see what Apricot-kitty has to say: ??????????????????????????????? “These children exhaust me.  How can they have so much energy?  If they’re not outsmarting villains and taking on advanced castle cartography, they’re breaking new ground in fashion design and learning new languages, all while raising and training unspeakable beasts from legend and myth!  What this family–and this castle–needs is a good long nap.  I shall set them an example, and hope they have the wit to follow my lead.”     Yes, well, there is a fair amount of running around and clover shenanigans, but how else are four kids–even royal ones–supposed to win the day against all odds?  And as for the castle taking a nap, I think that’s the last thing it needs.  Rather, it should teach my house how to add a room every week, and rearrange itself according to my needs.  If you could redesign your house once a week, with any addition or change so long as you were willing to live with it from then on, what would you change?

For more MMGM fun and recommends, check out Shannon Messenger’s blog.  And happy reading!

MMGM2

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