Note: This post is part of a series on School Library Media/Materials for a course
Platt, C. & Riddell, C. (1999). Castle diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, page. Cambridge: Candlewick.
Summary: Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, Page follows eleven year old Toby Burgess as he travels from his family’s home to his uncle’s Strandborough Castle to learn the ways of being a page in hopes of becoming a squire and eventually a knight. Toby has many new experiences in his twelve months at the castle including participating in a hunt, watching jousts, and learning the people and events that are required for the successful running of Castle Strandborough. This is Toby’s introduction to formal medieval society. Toby also learns the interplay between the Castle and the village and villagers as well as the medieval judicial system when these elements collide. The book includes notes for the reader, glossary and index as well as a list of sources for further study.
Quantitative reading level: Lexile Level: (from Lexile Find a book): 1010L; ATOS Reading Level (from AR Book Finder) 5.8. Recommended interest level: Upper grades 9-12.
Qualitative reading analysis (Text analyzed using SCASS/Achieve the Core Literature rubric)
Text Structure: The organization is in diary format and so is clear and chronological. This is also a picture book that contains a significant amount of text. The use of imagery and illustrations is actually more complex than the text in that the captions for the illustrations often extend the story or meaning of the text even further and providing clarification for parts of the text.
Language features: Conversationality is largely explicit and fairly easy to understand. While the vocabulary is familiar and conversational, its sentence structure (arrangement and word order) does lend to less familiarity for modern readers, but it does not make the text necessarily more complex.
Meaning: The meaning and theme are obvious and revealed well at the beginning of the story.
Knowledge demands: The life experiences portrayed are entrenched in the time period of the 13th century but would not be wholly unfamiliar to the reader. Cultural knowledge is more complex; however, owing to the elements of life and society of medieval England.
Content area: Historical fiction-13th century; Fiction-Middle Ages, Picture Book-YA
Content area standards:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
Applicable California Social Science/History Standards:
Students evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past, including an analysis of authors’ use of evidence and the distinctions between sound generalizations and misleading oversimplifications.
Students compare the present with the past, evaluating the consequences of past eventsand decisions and determining the lessons that were learned.
Curriculum suggestions: History (Middle Ages), supplemental and/or supportive text. May be used to introduce students to medieval life during world history units. Castle Diary could be incorporated into “Fiction Friday” lessons to support ongoing history curriculum.