Saturday, May 5, 2018

Review: Catalina and the King's Wall by Patty Castello

by Patty Castello
Illustrated by Diane Cojocaru
Eifrig Publications
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 7

One day Catalina overhears the king planning to build a wall and fears her family will never be able to visit. Catalina tricks the king into building walls that droop, drip, swirl, and swoosh away. But now the king demands a wall that will outlast even a Twinkie. Luckily, Catalina has the perfect ingredients to bake up a family reunion!

A wonderful story of inclusivity and compassion perfect for initiating conversations with kids in today's world.


Through a fantastical story and loving illustrations, this fairy tale gently touches a topic important in today's world.

Catalina loves to bake. Even the King enjoys her treats. One day, she over-hears his plans to build a wall between his and another kingdom. Unfortunately, this means that Catalina will have more trouble visiting her family, who resides in the other kingdom. Maybe she'll never see them again. So she devises a plan.

I love the fairy tale atmosphere in this book, which reminds more of the traditional tales. Catalina has a wonderful hobby and is very satisfied with her life. Her only regret is not being able to visit her family more often, since they live in the neighboring kingdom. When she meets the King, he never comes across as evil despite his silly thoughts. He comes across as being simply misguided in his own way. There's a warmth to the tale even when Catalina does her best to come up with various ways to work against the King's wall. There's a definite determination to Catalina's actions, but she never is unkind in how she handles things, nor is the author unkind to the King and how he's presented. In other words, it's a masterfully woven balance.

Catalina's plans are very unique and fit well to the intended age group. There are a few small logical areas which made my kids wonder, but nothing which hurt the flow of the story. Catalina's attempted solutions are imaginative and fantastical, bordering on their own form of magic.

The illustrations are done with a very personal touch and much love. The colors are bright, and it's easy to follow the story just through the pictures. The text is only a few lines on each page, and fitting for the intended age group. Depending on the background, the words are sometimes placed in a white rectangular area of their own, while other times, are directly on the illustration. While reading the book aloud, this distracted a little (not sure why.) But the tale does make a great bedtime read or is great for a quick story time during the afternoon. Even kids who are a little more sure of reading on their own will enjoy picking it up.

While subtle, the message rings clear and nestles in perfectly with the concerns of racism in today's society. Although this is a cute fairy tale, it also is a gentle way to open up a discussion with children about how they view people of different races.

And here she is. . .

Patty lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, a zany awesome toddler, a dog named Pippa, and a dog named Spencer. She grew up in the Twin Cities and is a Minnesotan at heart (you betcha!). She has a BS in Psychology from the University of St Thomas and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. She currently works in higher education. Her first book, Catalina and the King’s Wall, released May 5th, 2018 from Eifrig Publishing. At all hours of the day (and night) she can be found standing at her desk, helping her university run smoothly and working on her next children's book. For fun, she likes to trail run, mountain bike, cross country ski, and hike. She is also a voracious volunteer for various local organizations.

A link to include:

To assist adults, Patty Castello has a list of various
resources related to talking to kids about race.

Books – for Kids & Adults
·        Nurture Shock by P. Bronson & A. Merryman
·        What if I say the Wrong Thing?: 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People by Verna Myers

Discussing race
· - “White Guilt” episode #135
· – “How to Not (Accidentally) Raise a Racist” episode #116

Implicit Association Test

Other Related Resources:
·        Embrace Race
·        My Reflection Matters
·        Raising An Advocate
·        Take the Raising an Advocate course


Laura Roettiger said...

This book has such an important message! Excited to share with my friends and children in my life!

Patty Costello said...

Thank you for the thoughtful review! I've very much enjoyed this opportunity. Very well written too. ~Patty

Stacie Theis said...

Thank you for the wonderful review!