When I was a child, the pictures and illustrations were my favorite part of any book. The more pictures the book had, the more I liked the book. Because I was dyslexic, pictures were often the key that made it possible for me to fully understand the story.
In my latest book, The Lost Castle Treasure, book 2 in the Sir Kaye series, there are two illustrations that I’d like to share with you. They both involve a medieval library, lots of illustrated books, and a young dyslexic boy named Reggie that loved every one of them.
The story begins as recently-knighted 12-year-old Sir Kaye Balfour and his best friend Reggie journey to the castle as guests of the queen and her nephew, Beau. For Kaye, this is an opportunity to prove himself to be a worthy knight like his father, Sir Henry. For Reggie, it’s not only the adventure of a lifetime, but best of all, it’s a chance to get away from the lone lineup of expensive tutors that his wealthy wool-merchant father insists on providing for him—or so Reggie thinks.
Reggie doesn’t enjoy any of his tutors. None of them ever stay very long since Reggie seems unable to learn. After all, in medieval times no one knew anything about dyslexia—tutors and Reggie were like oil and water. But Reggie was definitely in for an extraordinary adventure which, to his chagrin, would also include a new tutor.
The first illustration I want to share today is of the grand library at the castle. This color illustration is featured on the cover of The Lost Castle Treasure. In medieval times, books were rare, and outside of monasteries, whole libraries were even more rare. Many books cost more than the average person earned in years. This particular library was one-of-a-kind. The former king of Knox had loved books. Over the years he collected a tremendous number of them, but by the time he died, the library had fallen into disrepair and books were scattered about. Even so, you can see what a grand library it was. Reggie had never actually seen a library. Just imagine, as you read Reggie’s description of his first glimpse of the library how you would react seeing such wealth and beauty for the first time.
Excerpt from The Lost Castle Treasure:
“I heaved the door open. It made a horrible screech that echoed all the way down the hall while my heart turned over like a cartwheel in my chest. Stepping cautiously inside, I passed under the watchful gaze of a large wooden falcon perched over the door. I tiptoed a little further into the room, lifted my candle high in the air, and turned in a big circle. I had found the library!
Bookshelves lined all the walls. A balcony ran along all four sides of the room. Stairs led up to this balcony, and there were more bookshelves up there, draped with thick cobwebs, each one trapping years’ worth of dust. Some of the shelves had collapsed, leaving books scattered everywhere.”
This brings us to a scene in the book that is near and dear to my heart. This is after Reggie returns to the library to check it out in more detail. I imagine that his response to all the beautiful handmade and illustrated books would probably be the same as mine would be. In this scene Reggie is sitting amidst a big pile of books carefully reviewing each one, admiring the wonderful craftsmanship and artwork.
Another excerpt from The Lost Castle Treasure:
“Digging through the piles of books, I found a small book with gold covers set with blue and green gems. It was too pretty to read, so I didn’t bother trying. Instead I hid it behind one of the bookshelves. Then I found a real treasure, a book full of stories about Sir Gregory, the most famous knight in the history of Knox. It had big pictures of him slaying a dragon and climbing a tower and doing other knightly things. I hid it in my secret spot so I could try reading it later.”
As you can see from this picture of an actual medieval book, these books were each carefully hand-crafted and beautifully illustrated. Since they were handmade, no two books were alike.
I hope you enjoyed this preview of illustrations from The Lost Castle Treasure. The book has a total of 16 illustrations throughout to enhance the reader’s experience. I’m so grateful for the meticulous work of illustrator Dave Allred. Thanks, Dave! In Part 3 of The Making of The Lost Castle Treasure we’ll give you a sneak peak at the book.