Behind the Walls
'The Very Last Castle' by Travis Jonker, pictures by Mark Pett, has a Willy Wonka feel to it. The book centers on the very last castle that stands in the middle of a small town. No one ever comes out of it, and no one ever goes in, yet a man stands guard, bringing a decent amount of curiosity to interested passersby. Yet one little girl named Ibb is the only one who truly begins to question the castle and the mystery that surrounds its walls. Everybody speculates as to what is inside, as people are wont to do when they don't know about or understanding something well. Everybody would much rather think the worst than learn what truly is going on and how they might be able to take part in learning more.
When Ibb decides to enter the castle's walls and discover the truth, she finds that perception is an interesting thing. The guard is taking care of the castle, making sure it is treated well, and Ibb, despite being a little girl who probably should not wander off on her own into mostly abandoned castles, finds that the truth she was looking for has led her into an unexpected friendship with the guard. As she joins him in exploring the castle grounds, he reveals his wish for the castle, and Ibb helps him see that it is possible in ways he had never considered.
A sweet story that is made even better through the themes of friendship, curiosity, and truth, 'The Very Last Castle' is a lovely tale with colorful illustrations that only enhance the storytelling.