What I’ve Read: I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant
This is one of the most powerful historical fiction books I’ve ever read.
It’s short. It’s simple. And it’s heartbreaking.
The book follows the attack on Pearl Harbor and shows the zeal of young American boys and their earnestness to enter the war. After landing in Europe, they soon realize the horrors and cruelty that await them on foreign shores.
As a writer myself, I must praise the craft with which this art was produced. It is exquisite. The words and phrases, the sentences, the story-telling are completely encompassing and will encircle you the moment you begin reading.
Last semester I had a middle school practicum with 7th graders. There was this one boy who hated reading — he despised it. I had to take him out in the hall to have him read to me, and the book he was desperately trying to read was so boring, he couldn’t get into it. It took him probably 5 minutes to read one page.
I went home that night and furiously tore through my stacks and stacks of books trying to find something that might interest him. He told he loved war stories — his grandpa was a vet and had given him all his war memorabilia and he enjoyed playing video games. I decided upon this war story for it’s graphic war descriptions, and young boy (someone he could relate to).
He loved it. I let him keep it. I hope, in my heart, that I created a lifelong reader.