Shadow Castle-Marian Cockrell - 1945

     This little book is a favorite of mine and has been for many years. Not only for the story itself, but also for the special memory attached to it. As I sit in my office at my desk, I only have to turn my head slightly to see the bookshelves where my small collection of books resides. Shadow Castle sits on the second shelf (where it always sits) encased in a clear plastic bag. On the cover is a picture of a blonde long haired princess standing in front of a sitting red haired prince. In the background is their castle. Flip to the back to read:

              “In the middle of a deep, dark forest there is a castle. Only shadows live there –  shadows of kings and queens who are waiting.

              They have been waiting for hundreds of years. They have been waiting for   someone to break the enchanted spell that was cast upon them.

              Then one day, a girl named Lucy wanders into this shadow land….

While it is the stuff little girls dreams are made of, if you flip to the inside cover, you will see the cause for this being my favorite book from childhood.

In a typical young adolescent script are the penciled (and another in red pen) words:

Dimples Wishon

Grade 6th

Feb 25, 1964

On the opposite page in pencil: Deanna Gwenn Wishon

     I remember my aunt Dimples reading this book to me when I was a little girl. Over and over again when I would spend summers with my grandparents. She was my young girl crush because she was kind, smart, beautiful, taught me to sew and more importantly, rode horses. The summer I was 16, Dimples committed suicide by driving her jeep off of a mountain. She was 29 years old. I was given her book as remembrance. In all my family; she is the only one I resemble. After 34-years, I still have tears in my eyes writing and sharing this. The story does not end there….

     Four years later, at the age of 20, I began reading this book to my 2-year old son. Over the years, it was the story he (and his younger brother later) would ask for time and time again. Once my oldest had children of his own, he searched out and purchased Shadow Castle for himself. All three of his children do the same; asking repeatedly for the story of “the princess and the elves and the goblins”.

     Last summer, by request of my eldest, I recorded Shadow Castle so that he (and my grandchildren) could listen to me read the story time and time again. Because it is on a shared dropbox site, a disabled friend (who passed away recently) also had the opportunity to listen to the story.

     Its funny how I listened to the story as a girl, loving not only the characters and the dramas that befell them, but also loving the sound of my aunt's voice as she brought each one to life. Later reading it on my own, many times I would hear her voice speaking the words as I read them. Reading the story later to my sons (and then as a recording) I was reminded just what a impact a simple book can make. Perhaps my favorite thing about the book (aside from the sentimental value it holds) is in the simplistic honesty of the characters involved. I can picture the described but not over done scenes in my head as I read it. The story is just as wonderful when I was a girl as it is now. Marian Cockrell demonstrated that a story, though simple, if told in a well rounded way, could stand the test of not only time, but of generations as well. I have learned, as a writer, that sometimes simple is better.

     This little 45¢ book, Shadow Castle, in its plastic protection, has held such a legacy in my family and will continue to do so.


     There is an extended version now. I downloaded the extended version (Kindle) to my iPad. I'll keep the original one from my aunt Dimples (yes that was her real name) encased in plastic.

© Avie Layne 2012