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Book Review: Build! A Knight's Castle

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40c626ac7e252d62103fcb4c85a48b2f.jpgMeet the team - Oscar (9), Harry (10) and Primrose (6). Their mission? To help me review the new papercraft book, 'Build! A Knight's Castle', written by Archaeologist Annalie Seaman, published by Ivy Kids and retailing for £12.99

First to get his mitts on the book, Harry had a good flick through before his friends arrived. He was pleased to find a table of contents and a glossary to help him find his way round the book and understand some of the unfamiliar words and terms, such as crenellations, radiocarbon dating and geophysical survey.

When Oscar and Primrose arrived, the three of them unsurprisingly wanted to go straight to the back and get on with building the castle, but I insisted we have a look at the information first. The book is well laid out and organised and kids will get more out of it if they read the text first. The first two sections will give them an understanding of how the castle should be laid out and what the various parts are for.  

In a nutshell, the three sections are:

1.All about Archaeology & Medieval life.

2.The parts of a Castle

3.Instructions and parts for building your own Castle.

Boys being boys, we seemed to spend a lot of time learning about Sieges! It was Horrible Histories all over as we discussed the table of Attackers Battle Tactics and how each tactic could be counteracted by the Defenders’. But to be fair, we were ee624fb6c65899cdd8fb48b6d3256a32.jpgall equally fascinated and found plenty of stuff we didn’t already know. It was frustrating at times that the glossary didn’t have more words in it.

I’m pleased to report that once I let them loose, the various components were easy to pop out, while being sturdy enough to withstand three excited kids pulling and popping simultaneously. However once construction begins, a much more delicate approach is needed.

Building the castle does require good fine motor skills and probably an adult to help, depending on the age of your children. There are some parts that are extremely fiddly like the garderobe and portcullis (both in the glossary I’m pleased to say) so a good dose of patience and perseverance is needed. It was definitely a team effort and will need to be done in chunks. I wasn’t surprised to find the boys slinking off to play lego after a while, leaving Primrose and I to happily carry on. The picture on the right shows what we achieved in a couple of hours, which included reading all the information first. We probably have another couple of hours work left before we can start playing knights and damsels or sieges and battles.

This book would make a great Christmas present. It’s aimed at children from 7 years up, and certainly the older boys did seem to get more out of it, but Primrose and I enjoyed it too. Perfect for a post-Christmas dinner or Boxing Day family activity.

Helen Murray

Helen Murray

Local Mum of 2 (& Godmother of 1). Editor of Raring2go! Salisbury since 2009.

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