100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

16 Randomly Random Facts About The Very Last Castle


The Very Last Castle, written by me and illustrated by the great Mark Pett arrives today. I hope you get a chance to read it. It received a starred review from Kirkus, and it was selected as a Best Book of the Month at Amazon. You can find it at these locations:

McLean & Eakin | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Just for fun, here are some random facts about the book:

  • The idea for the book came from my daughter, Lina, who asked “Are there castles anymore?”
  • I wrote down that idea at a gas station Jimmy Johns in Big Rapids, Michigan:


  • A little while later, I drew this crappy sketch while trying to figure out the story.

Castle Sketch

  • The book also takes some inspiration from The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. Except in this story, the little house is an immovable castle.

Little House

  • The name Ibb is a medieval name. I wanted a name that tied in with that era, yet was also original, easy to spell and pronounce.
  • The name of the teacher, Miss Wicks, was inspired by cartoonist Maris Wicks (she doesn’t know that yet).
  • Ever since I saw Lizard From the Park, I was hoping Mark Pett would illustrate The Very Last Castle.


  • I haven’t met Mark in person yet.
  • Mark Pett and I both appear in the book – on the same page:


  • Earlier drafts of the story were much more ominous. Shout-out to editor Tamar Brazis for working with me to get the tone just right.
  • One of the trickiest parts for me was connecting the sounds heard outside the castle to what was happening inside.
  • The sounds in the book follow the seasons – “snap” in the summer, “thud” in the fall, all quiet in winter, “hiss” in the spring.
  • There’s an alternate draft of the book where the guard is a girl.
  • The book is categorized in Royalty books on Amazon, yet there is not one royal in it.
  • The book sets a world record (at least I think it does) for Tallest Combined Height of a Picture Book Author (me), Illustrator (Mark Pett), and Editor (Tamar Brazis). We’re all pretty tall.
  • A clue about what’s inside the castle appears on the back case cover.

Thank you Mark Pett, Tamar Brazis, Stephen Barbara, and all the wonderful art, design, and marketing and publicity folks at Abrams.

Now that the book is out in the world, I’d LOVE to see how you’re using it. Let me know on Twitter or Instagram.

Thank you!

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.