EYFS Activities: Sharing books… Kings of the Castle

As part of her series exploring books for babies and children, Penny Tassoni has ideas for sharing Kings of the Castle, by Victoria Turnbull (Templar Publishing 2016).

The book is picture-led, with minimal text
The book is picture-led, with minimal text

This is an imaginative story about a friendly monster, George, and his pet, Boris, who live by the sea. One night George and Boris are out playing when they come across a sea creature. Their early attempts at communication fail because they do not speak the same language.

With help from Boris, they start to draw pictures and suddenly they can understand each other. The rest of the night is spent building an elaborate sandcastle. When the morning comes, they go home together, having become friends.


This book should work well with children aged three to five. In particular, they will enjoy pulling back the centre pages of this book to look at the enormous sandcastle that the characters have created. Older children, once they are familiar with the story, will be able to look at it independently. As this book is set at night, parents might also like to share this book when it is dark with their children or at bedtime.


Younger children may need help to understand what is happening within some of the illustrations. For example, you may need to point out that when Boris starts to dig a hole, he is upsetting George’s plan to create a sandcastle. Older children will enjoy spending time analysing what is happening in the pictures and creating narratives. This makes it a good book to leave out after sharing it with children, so that they can return to it when they wish.


Personal, social and emotional development

This book is focused on relationships. At first, George wants to build a sandcastle, but Boris is not interested. We can explore with children how George feels about this and talk about how it is not always possible to play in the way that you want.

The book also looks at co-operation. When George and the sea monster, Nepo, start to work together, they are able to create an amazing sandcastle. You could ask children to think about ways in which they can co-operate with other during their play.

At the end of the story, George, Nepo and Boris are friends. You could also encourage children to think about what it means to be a friend and how also to be a good friend.

There is also the theme of languages to explore. Nepo does not use the same language as George, so you could talk to the children about how people may speak different languages. You could sing a nursery rhyme in a different language or say ‘hello’ in a variety of languages. You may also find toys or books that ‘speak’ a different language.

Language development

This book has relatively little text, making it a useful story to encourage children to talk about what they can infer from the pictures. An example of this is where George’s attempt at building a sandcastle is being accidentally sabotaged by Boris. Within the text, there are some expressions and words that children may be unfamiliar with, such as ‘green eyed with envy’. It is worth talking about the meaning of these and giving children equivalent words such as ‘jealous’.


Early reading This book has many features which may be new to some children, such as speech bubbles on several pages. The illustrations are also laid out in ways that can help children learn about how books work. Some illustrations go from left to right, others from top to bottom.

Early writing We see that George and Nepo start to write in the sand to help them communicate. You could create a mark-making opportunity by providing a large tray of damp sand and some sticks. Some children may also like to experiment with different mark-making tools in the sand tray such as brushes.

Understanding the World

The monsters in the story only come out at night. What are the features of night time? You could look at what other animals come out at night. This could develop into a chart where children stick pictures to show which animals are nocturnal.

Expressive Arts and Design

The book is set at the seaside, and some children may be unfamiliar with elements of a beach such as deckchairs and beach balls. You could create a beach for children to play on by pouring sand onto a sheet of tarpaulin and providing buckets, spades and a deck chair. This would allow children to experience sand as if they were on a beach.


Over the course of this monthly series on sharing books with children, Penny Tassoni will look at a range of fiction and non-fiction titles, from rhyming books for babies to picture books that adults and children can explore together.

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