About the Book
Author: Gerda Weissmann Klein
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 258
Synopsis: When two American girls, Alysa and Julie, visit London's Windsor Castle, the day turns into a much bigger adventure than expected - they find themselves locked in for the night. Taking refuge in the royal bedchamber, the girls meet some famous (and not-so-famous) figures from English history and get a crash course in heraldry. Then things turn nasty as they come face-to-face with a pair of thieves . . . This delightful, gentle and magical story by Gerda Weissmann Klein brings alive the fascinating pageantry of English history.
When 8-year-old Julie is invited to spend summer vacation in London with her cousin Alysa (whose also American, but living abroad) she is elated. Convincing Julie's parents to let her fly over 5,000 miles away takes some convincing, but once travel companions are established for the young girl the eventful journey begins.
After arriving in England, Julie can't wait to take in all country has to offer. She's eager to see the castles and palaces and even hopes to meet the Queen. So when a visit is planned to Windsor Castle, Julie and Alysa are anxious to be among royalty. The girl's are drawn to Queen Mary's Dollhouse and the adults allow the girls to continuing exploring while they visit St. George's Chapel. Upon returning to the meeting place Julie and Alysa can't find Alysa's parents anyway. Fear sets in the girls frantically search for the adults only to be caught in a downpour. Seeking shelter the girls find an unlocked door leading back to the State Apartments, but once inside they find there's on way out. Exhausted the girls take refuge in the Royal Bed Chamber and begin a night of restless slumber dreaming of history lessons given by insightful guides, appearances from remarkable creatures, and a few peculiar incidents that leave them a little shaken. Will the girls ever find a way home?
One of the things I liked most about the story are the outtakes by a "good luck" Lincoln penny who highlights important facts from the story. He's also quite witty and reminds us to take time and recollect all the possible adventures that penny in your pocket has encountered (just as he has while hiding out in Alysa's purse). I liked the vast amount of knowledge that's shared through the young characters' overnight castle hiatus. Reader's are introduced to a variety of people and aspects of English history that I found utterly intriguing. I even took time to expand my knowledge through some of the recommended website from the story. Another fun aspect was the introduction to unusual English words that constantly confused Julie and added a bit of humor. The author is very knowledgeable about English history and does a magnificent job of spinning a well penned tale for readers to enjoy.
I highly recommend picking up a copy. Available onAmazon.