The Girl in the Castle inside the Museum,
by Kate Bernheimer; illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli
Schwartz and Wade
reviewed by Kelly Herold
Castle is a beautiful pearly-white onion. This dreamy picture book, aimed at readers ages three to seven, invites children into a layered world, and moves them from observer to participant in incremental stages.
The Girl in the Castle inside the Museum opens as a fairy tale would: "Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived in a castle." Then we discover that the castle is in a museum, inside a glass globe. "When children came to the museum, they pressed as close as they could to the glass globe in which the castle quietly sat. "
Once we look inside the globe, we learn more. The girl inside is sometimes lonely, but her world is beautiful and she takes pleasure in its beauty. She also dreams and tells stories. Sometimes she even dreams about the reader and invites her into her world: "Now in her room and in her dreams, inside the castle inside the museum, inside this book you hold in your hands, you keep her company in a magical world. "
And the reader will want to keep the girl company. Berheimer's text is dreamy and rhythmic, drawing you in as the layers of the onion are peeled back to its core. And Ceccoli's illustrations? Swoon. Ceccoli's illustrations are heartbreakingly lovely and she has composed them with a childlike perspective--from above and looking in to the center. She has created a magical world a child will only be too happy to join. It's a world of lush browns, oranges, greens, roses, and grays. A world of Escher-like staircases and rooms with animate toys jumping and spinning around its center. A world with a magical, beautiful princess just looking for a friend.
I dare you not to enter the castle inside the museum.