“A treat for fans of the genre as well as a captivating introduction to it.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Long ago and far away” in the Castle Corona lived King Guido, Queen Gabriella, and their children: Prince Gianni, Princess Fabrizia, and Prince Vito. They were all spoiled and bored and longed to be free of duties and obligations. In the nearby village, Pia and Enzio lived in a shabby hut with a miserly master. Pia and Enzio yearned to be free, to eat well, and to see the magnificent Castle Corona. One day there was a thief and a stolen pouch, and the lives of the royals and peasants soon became intertwined.
Castles have been swirling in my mind since I was young, when I climbed trees and imagined I was a sentry, guarding the castle. During the nineteen years I (as a grown-up) lived in Europe, I saw many castles, most in ruins, and I always wondered who had lived there and what had happened within those walls. Every Saturday my husband, children, and I did our weekly shopping in Windsor. Windsor Castle, part-time home to the Queen, stands in the center of town. Often I wondered what was going on inside those castle walls.
When I returned to the States, in the small town of Mayville, New York, I was running errands. In the center of town stands the jail. I wondered how the prisoners felt and what similarities there might be between castle dwellers and prisoners, both encircled by strong walls. When I began this book, I didn’t know whether it would be serious or humorous, but once I met the royals, ho! They made me laugh.
The artwork: My editor and publisher, Joanna Cotler, and I have long discussed the relationship between word and image, and of the book as art object.
For this story, we both wanted art that reflected the story’s medieval setting. Joanna’s particular vision was for something that resembled sixteenth century illuminated manuscripts. She and David Diaz refined the approach and David came up with lush artwork: full-color iconic emblems backed by decorative flourishes for the beginning of each chapter.