National Trust: The Castle the King Built

National Trust: The Castle the King Built

By Author / Illustrator

Rebecca Colby, Tom Froese


Picture Books

Age range(s)



Nosy Crow Ltd




Paperback / softback




Find out exactly what goes on inside a medieval castle in this impeccably stylish picture book from the National Trust. How many people does it take to build a castle? And what exactly does each person do? Discover masons to merchants and bakers to blacksmiths in this unique take on the classic rhyme 'This is the House that Jack Built'. Explore what happens inside the castle the king built with striking retro artwork from illustrator Tom Froese and a carefully researched rollicking rhyme from author Rebecca Colby.



The Castle the King Built is a great text allowing for the discovery of people and jobs involved with building a castle. You'll learn about mason and bakers, knights and servants through rhyme and detailed retro-styled illustrations.

The tale gives an insight into who worked in a castle and what life might have been like in the past. The text follows the same pattern throughout, similar to that of 'This is the House that Jack Built' naming the trade and explaining what the job role is, with repetition to engage even the youngest of listeners.

The clear, colourful illustrations add so much more detail and depth to the story, and really open up conversation and discussions about what is happening. For the children with an extra eye for detail there are hidden extras in the pictures that can lead to further discussion and predictions for the story and character feelings. For example the blacksmith has a bent nail on the floor - "Why is it bent? What will happen to that now?" Whilst the bakers are busy in the kitchen, a mouse is heading across the floor towards its mouse hole - "Why is it moving away from the cat? Why is there a mouse in the kitchen?"

This is a great resource for history topics and PSHE. Children will really enjoy listening and responding to each page of this book. Some versions come with a stories aloud QR code to allow young children to engage with this text independently.

Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Maria Faithorn, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 5+


The Castle the King Built is a great story, with a mix of non-fiction. It is the story of how the King built his castle and all the different people who either helped build it or help with the day to day running of the castle. We meet the stonemasons, knights, servants, minstrels and of course the King himself!

The rhyming text mimics the nursery rhyme, This is the House that Jack Built. I liked the way in which the story was simple and used repetition to build up each part adding on another role within the castle, which is easy for children to follow and also read.

The way in which the author has also used the proper names for each group of people within the castle and not simplified the language and used the correct terminology is more appealing and ensures learning is taking place is a smart and simple way. This is then explained at the back of the book with each person explaining what they did and who they were.

The illustrations by Tom Froese are beautiful, colourful and full pages, giving you lots to look at and you are able to see what is happening in the life of a castle. This is a lovely and well-presented mix of historical fiction and non-fiction and a great collaboration with The National Trust.

Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 5+


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