Thursday, January 19, 2006

Castle Books, part 3

Today, amidst Star Wars lego sets, xbox games and other post-birthday paraphernalia (as well as post birthday sugar jags) we did accomplish quite a bit in the homeschool classroom. We even read four more castle books. Here's our take on these books:
  • Eyewitness Books: Castle (by Christopher Gravett). Like all of these "Eyewitness Books", this is eye candy for the castle enthusiasts. Lots of great and unique pictures of all things medieval that have ANYTHING to do with castles. Such things as a gold lion water pitcher from Germany, clothes of the era, and different styles of castle architecture can be found in this book. This book has a great mix of authentic artifacts and modern folks dressed up to look like those of days gone by. The text is OK, but the pictures are well worth perusing the book.
  • Life in the Middle Ages: The Castle (by Kathryn Hinds) has splendid pictures and excellent text. Many sidebars make for fun facts -- including a recipe for homemade marzipan (which we will attempt next week). The pictures are primarily taken from period tapestries or paintings done in the Middle Ages. This is a heavy fact-based book that is pretty readable and the pictures are glorious.
  • The Age of Castles: How Castles were Built (by Peter HIcks) is a wonderful overview of the architecture of different types of castles from different countries and in different eras. Excellent photographs, mixed with detailed cut-away illustrations, complement the entertaining text. Plans for building a model castle -- using tightly rolled newspaper for the towers -- are included as is a very well-done timeline of famous castles (spaning 950 to 1708). A real boys' book of castles!
  • A Medieval Feast (written and illustrated by Aliki) is a wonderful story about the king and his retinue's impending visit to a manor house. The manor house gets all ready in preparation for the all-day feasting -- wonderful descriptions (highlighted by colorful and informative drawings) of the kinds of breads, meats, fruit and vegetables, herbs and seasonings, desserts and drinks that are served to the royal guests abound in this book. Aliki's illustrations are bright and colorful -- just begging for chidren to look closely at the "Cockentrice" and the stuffed and re-feathered peacocks, as well as all the other delicacies. This book really gives an excellent picture of just what they all ate back in the "old days".

We'll probably finish up this unit tomorrow but we'll carry the knowledge of castles with us for a long, long time!

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