The Very Last Castle

by Travis Jonker (Author) Mark Pett (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A curious little girl watches the man who guards the last castle in town. Every time she passes by him, she tries to catch his eye.

While the other townspeople fear what may be locked up inside the mysterious castle, the girl finally gets up the courage to knock on the door and find out what's really behind the gate.

A story about overcoming fear of the unknown, trying new things, and reaching out to make new friends, The Very Last Castle shows that bravery comes in packages both big and small.

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Publishers Weekly

There's an old castle in the middle of the town, a vestige from a time so distant that all that's known about it is hearsay. Snaps, thuds, and hissing emerge from its walls, and community members surmise that it must be filled with monsters or giants or snakes. But a girl named Ibb is skeptical. "Maybe it's something terrible," she thinks. "Or maybe it's something else." She bravely reaches out to the lonely guardsman who patrols the walls and discovers that not only is he charming and friendly, he presides over a marvelous topiary garden. In short order, Ibb agrees to carry on the guardsman's legacy and helps him make new friends in the town, and they turn the garden into a public space. Librarian, blogger, and debut author Jonker and Pett (Lizard from the Park) opt for low-key and thoughtful in words and illustrations. Minimal, unadorned text mixes with watercolor and pen-and-ink pictures to create an appealing protagonist who has an admirable, self-possessed curiousness and always wears big yellow boots--readers can almost hear her clomping confidently through the pages. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Stephen Barbara, InkWell Management. Illustrator's agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (Oct.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2-There is only one castle left in the world and it stands in the middle of a small town with a lone guard in its watchtower. Nobody comes out of this imposing structure and nobody goes in. Enter Ibb, an adventurous young girl with a healthy dose of curiosity. When she asks what lives behind the walls, she gets a variety of frightening theories. Her teacher believes monsters reside there, a friend opines it must be giants, while her grandfather insists on snakes. Ibb entertains these fantastical thoughts (and the illustrations do them justice) but she maintains a sense of optimism that it "could be something else." With mounting tension, Ibb knocks on the castle door and then runs away in terror. Shortly thereafter, the girl receives an invitation to visit the castle. Readers soon learn that while monsters and giants do live there, things are not quite as they were envisioned by the townsfolk. Instead, there is a delightful garden with topiaries shaped like dragons and a garden bursting with good things to eat. In the end, Ibb convinces the guard to venture out and share the fruits of his labor. Appealing illustrations done in pen-and-ink and watercolor round out this stellar read-aloud and add to its subtle humor. VERDICT This debut picture book deserves a place in most collections. Strongly recommended for purchase.--Amy Nolan, St. Joseph Public Library, MI

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian and creator of 100 Scope Notes, a kidlit blog hosted by School Library Journal. He was a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. Jonker lives with his wife and two children in Zeeland, Michigan. Mark Pett is the author/illustrator of many books for children, including This Is My Book! and The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes. Before books, Pett created comic strips. He lives in Utah.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2018
Age Range
4 - 8 years

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