Instead of a den, how about a castle built from books?

posted in: Bernard Clavel, Yan Nascimbene | 8

This time last week I was dismantling the book den I’d built out of books. This time next year, maybe I’ll be dismantling a CASTLE built from books: over on Twitter @storyvilled alerted me to a lovely little book by Bernard Clavel (the translation is not credited to an individual), illustrated by Yan Nascimbene with the enticing title Castle of Books.


Sadly both author and illustrator are now deceased. Clavel was a French writer for both adults and young people who began his working life as a pastry cook apprentice, not becoming a full time writer until in his 40s. Nascimbene was born in France but studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Specialising in watercolour, he illustrated over 60 books and 300 book covers. You can see lots of examples of his work here.

But getting back to my dreams of building a castle with books, Clavel and Nascimbene’s picture book is a quiet meditation on turning dreams into reality. Benjamin has always wanted to live in a castle whilst his father, a poet, is always looking for just the right word or turn or phrase to include in his latest work.


Living in a house packed to the rafters with books, Benjamin realises he has the bricks he needs for his castle on the shelves in front of him and so sets to work taking books from the back of shelves (behind the second row of books at the front) so that his father won’t notice what is going on.



Once the castle is complete his father visits and is delighted because he rediscovers just the books he was looking for to help him with his latest poem. gently removing those ‘bricks’ from the castle walls.


Without realising it, Benjamin has helped his father, by bringing books hidden from view out into the light (I recognised myself here for I definitely discovered some long forgotten favourites last week as I handled all my books).


A gentle flight of fancy, with subtle and soothing illustrations, Castle of Books (unfortunately out of print) is a charming vision of a father-son relationship, and a testament to the inspiration to be found in books.

I’m so grateful to @storyvilled, who blogs about books for children and young people at for telling me about this delightful book. If you know of a book you’d think I like, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

8 Responses

  1. sophie

    I do not know this Bernard Clavel´s book but when I saw the illustrations, I thought It would be great for the Baron in the tree. And, incredible, the illustrator has illustrated Italo Calvino´s book !!
    Thanks to make us discover this !

  2. @storyvilled

    So glad you liked it Zoe! Such an apposite tale for all us book hoarders. And Yan Nascimbene’s illustrations are so beautiful, since I discovered this I’ve developed a minor obsession with collecting his work

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.