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John Dante is so enmeshed in WW II’s patriotic fever that he can hardly wait for his 18th birthday, in 1942, to enlist. Meanwhile, his sister, stricken with empathy and concern, is engaged to two soldiers and pregnant by a third; Dad, a nuclear physicist, is called from Pittsburgh to California for secret research; and John falls sweetly, ardently in love with pretty Ginny, who urges him to become a conscientious objector. To John, her fervent pacifism is incomprehensible; but as he endures active combat, without relief, until 1945, stereotypes give way to the reality of the enemy’s humanity, and Ginny’s ideas become clear. Still, after his long immersion in horror, John never communicates with her again-until a message at the end of this novel, narrated in 1992 when he’s a retired professor in Canada: “I want you to know that I am really alive. And I still love you.” Yet John has not been “alive” as he might have been: a lifelong solitary, he was even driven from his home by the war (“I could not stay in America because America had not suffered”). Rylant depicts-with some irony and much insight and compassion-the tragedy of young men putting aside their true selves and fighting in a war in which they ultimately lose faith.

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Comments on: "I had seen castles – Cynthia Rylant" (137)

  1. I Had Seen Castles is a novel of a young and eager boy, John Dante, caught up in World War 2’s patriotic fever. Despite his enthusiasm to enlist the day he turns 18, many years later he realizes all too well how right his friend Ginnie was. Yet, by then it is too late. The insight into this tragic and emotional time, is written by the older and much wiser John reflecting back on his own mistakes. This tale has so many sides to it, it not only projects an emotional truth and a passionate anti-war message but also depicts a love story.

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  2. Olivia said:

    The novel ‘I Had Seen Castles’ is a great novel written in a retrospective way of the character John when he was an old man. He tells the story of his young self, a boy who was eager to go to war. He falls in love with a girl named Ginny and as their love unfolds, John leaves for war. War is nothing of what John expects, he faces hardship and horrors… but the rest is for you to find out.

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  3. I Had Seen Castles is a wonderful novel that tells the story of John Dante and his experiences through World War 2. John is a seventeen year old boy living in Pittsburgh with his mother, father and sister. When the Japanese bombs Pearl Harbour John is counting the days till he turns eighteen and can go and fight for his country. Along the way John’s family changes, he loses his best friend and falls in love with young wise girl. This book teaches you about standing up for what you believe in. I Had Seen Castles is heart touching book with a great moral. My favourite character is Ginny as she is so kind and wise beyond her years. This novel was a wonderful read and I would recommend it to everyone to read.

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  4. Geilee said:

    I liked the book because it gave me a further insight into what World War 2 was like. It also gave me a better understanding on how America helped in the war. It also incorporated a coming of age and love story. My favourite part was when John met Ginny because this was the start of his story and it was something that changed John’s life. My favourite character was John because his development throughout the story was interesting. My least favourite part was when John was at war because it was explicitly detailed the deaths. I would recommend this to anyone that wants to know more about World War 2 because it was the story of a man’s story through the war.

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  5. The novel I Had Seen Castles, written by Cynthia Rylant is set during World War II in 1942. THis book is about a young boy, John Dante, who is 17 years of age who really wants to go to war. John’s father has to leave town for a while for work, his mother begins to work in an artillary factory and his sister falls pregnant and is engaged to a man who has just left for war. John soon realises the reality of war and he should have listened to his friend Ginny.

    In year 9 we had to read this novel as part of an assessment. This is where I heard of the book and I am glad I did because it is a short novel and is actually really anjoyable.

    Although this book sounds intense it is a really interesting read. I would recommened this novel to high schools students.

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  6. I had seen castles is a great book. Its all about war and the effects that it give people in there future lives. It was not very interesting when I first started to read it. But it became a lot more interesting when I read on. I really enjoyed talking about all the propaganda in the book it made me think how today we are still victims of propaganda. It was a very sad book how it ended with Ginny not knowing that John loved her so dearly but I really enjoyed most of it.

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  7. Paige said:

    I Had Seen Castles, written by Cynthia Rylant, is a captivating novel in which shifts typical views associated with the historical yet tragic event. The novel allows readers to slip easily into the characters heart and souls, where the author successfully portrays the thoughts and emotions of her characters, in particular the protagonist John Dante’s emotions. He reflects on his life in a way that allows him to re-live the heartache, true love and loss of innocence when he is faced with such horrendous experiences. The scenes are particularly strong filled with dismemberment and death. It captivates the event of war in a way that is simple to understand, but the vast array of language really extends an individuals typical view on war. Rylant assisted in the development of my knowledge on the topic and history of war while causing me to reflect on my own life and how it contrasts to what life used to be like. It is a descriptive and engaging novel that I recommend to anybody who enjoys reading.

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  8. Although I read this book a few years ago, I can still remember my reaction when it was over – disappointment. I really loved this book and the way it entwined a love story and the reality of war. It is one of the best books I have studied at school and I hope one day I re-read it and enjoy it just as much. Year 9 was a good age to read this novel and I also believe ages above would enjoy it too. I rate it a 9/10 because sometimes it was a little bit boring.

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  9. obowker said:

    This book was by far one of the best books I’ve read at this school I absolutely loved every aspect of the book and how it surrounds the idea of war and how it was and what happens after through the eyes of the john who was in this traumatic experience where mentally he was forever changed.I also liked how the book was from a male’s point of view which is different to most other books I have read. I liked how the author portrayed what war was like and themes that were so important during that time. I also liked the romance in this book. There were many emotions shown in this book such as love, happiness, depression, excitement and sadness and these emotions were portrayed excellently through John’s point of view.

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  10. I recently read the book ‘I Had Seen Castles’ by Cynthia Rylant. I really enjoyed this book because of it’s anti-war message and I learnt a lot about war from it. My favourite character is Ginny because I love her strong attitude. I rate this book 9/10. I recommend this book for 14 and up.

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  11. We had to read this book to study in Yr 9 and it was definitely one of my favourite. It is about the life of John Dante and follows his struggle in the hard times of World War II. Everyone around him, his family and himself are all affected by the factors of war including jobs, money and family. I recommend this book to 13+ people as it has some themes that younger readers might not understand or find inappropriate. I rate it a 6/10.

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  12. I had seen castles is a great book that has an amazing moral. At first I was not excited about it, and did not love reading it. But when we began talking about it in class and with friends I realised the moral of the story and saw the true meaning of everything. It is a very heart touching novel and I thought it was a really good book and taught me so many things. The topic is very intriguing and interesting. The novel is short but has a very strong message and teaches a lot. I love Ginny so much and her wisdom is just amazing. I don’t usually enjoy war books, but I liked this book and am really moved by the moral.

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  13. In class we have read the book ‘I had seen castles’. It is about the main protagonist John, who falls in love with Ginny. This story makes you feel mixed emotions. One minute your happy about John and Ginny, but the next minute your sad about the war. I really enjoyed this book and recommend everyone to read it. I rate it 9/10.

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  14. ‘I had seen Castles’ tells the lovely story of John Dante and his family living through World War 2. He lives in Pittsburgh with his mother, father and sister Dianne. John was aged 17 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour which then left him counting down the days until his eighteenth birthday so he could enlist to fight against the Japanese. Along the way, his family life changes, he falls in love with Ginny and also loses his best friend Tony. ‘I had seen Castles’ is written from the perspective of John as an older man looking back on his experiences at war. I highly recommend this book for anyone aged 14+. I hope you will love this book as much as I did! 8/10! Enjoy!

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  15. Thin Young Adult book with a big subject. Well-written account of what it was like to be a young man during the World War II era & the loss of innocence & internal change that war brings. Haunting but very positive in the end.t is about his struggles and the way that he faces them and how he grows as an individual and his out look on war is changed and his world is alternated forever. I have seen Castles is an outstanding book for many reasons because it gives a really good explanation about what World War 2 is like but it explains in a really good way.

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  16. Saskia said:

    I had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant tells the story of a young boy John Dante, during WW2. His whole world shifts when the news of the Pearl Harbour bombing was released, and America is brought into the war. One by one John’s friends leave for war, and John begins counting down the days until he too can enrol, his 18th. John can’t wait to join up and be apart of the spectacular ‘show’, as he calls it. John then meets a young girl, Ginny, who has very different opinions about war. In the short time until John leaves to join the war, Ginny and him fall in love, the two find it difficult to put aside their differences to savour their love. The book then follows Johns time as a soldier fighting the germans, and then a brief talk of his life returning after defeating the germans and the bombing of Hiroshima, and how he is not the same.
    This book in compelling and provokes emotion within almost everyone. It’s educational and shows the effects war can cause on families, relationships, countries, and soldiers.
    I absolutely loved this book, and am very grateful that I had to read it for school, as I would not have otherwise. It is one of the best school texts I have ever read.
    I would give it a 8/10.

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  17. This book is definitely one to read. The ending is so subtle yet so powerful. Even though it is short it gives us a great insight into what the war was like and how tough it was. The author is so clever and knows how to write such a fantastic ending. I read this for because we had to for our assessment but I really enjoyed it and would definitely read it again.

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  18. The book ‘I Had Seen Castles’ is a story about a young man named John and his experiences during WWII. I liked this book because it includes some drama, romance and sadness towards the ending. This book brings back the memories of year 9 English. It is a very easy read, and I believe it will attract people who enjoy the history side of war.

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  19. This book brings me back a lot of memories from year 9 and I did actually enjoy it
    We see how through age and maturity war changes Johns perspective on what he once thought as John first believed that war was a wonderful experience and that he would be named as a hero through enlisting into war. After what he sees and experiences he learns that war is damaging not only physically but also mentally and we see this, as he returns from war as a completely different person. Before his departure, Ginny his love who is against war tires to persuade him out of it as she knows just how horrible it is, but John believes that what he is getting told by propaganda is right and that it is best for him to go.
    At 67 John reflects back on his mistakes and what he wished he could say to Ginny now.
    I would recommend this book to anyone who is into war and its history. I give it a 7/10

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  20. The book ‘I Had Seen Castles’ is a tough, lyrical little book that leaves you humble. It is about a 17 year old boy named John Dante desperately waiting to turn 18 to go to war. He is wanting to fight in WW2 against the Japanese in Pearl Harbour. He is ready to lay his life on the line in the name of his country. Until he meets a girl named Ginny who influences John’s decision of going to war. She believes war is wrong and no body should have to put their own life at risk for another’s. She believes everything can be resolved without violence and everyone should be treated equally. As soon as John turns 18 he is sent to war where he witnesses some horrific events and begins to rethink his decision. He has left everything behind, his family, friends and girlfriend Ginny with doubt that he will be returning home. Along the journey he made many knew friends who were in the same positions as him but worked together to get through hardship and struggles. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in WW2 or Romance as it is a truely touching story including some true events.

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  21. I had seen castles by Cynthia Rylant was such a great book to read especially as a book we are starting to study in English. I really had a great interest in this book as the romance and history in this book really had me captivated. I didn’t want to put this book down as I read this in one day. It is a fairly short book which is one of the reasons why I like it as it doesn’t drag on. It is about young boy who is scared even though he doesn’t want to admit it. It is the World War 2 and he is going to be recruited to not look like a cowered even though the new person in his life Ginny is against war. Him and Ginny become very close after they meet pushed off a bus together. Ginny isnt your regular girl which is why they relationship flourishes so fast. Read it to find out what happens at the end. Does Ginny end up with the man he love?

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  22. I like the book ‘I Had Seen Castles’ by Cynthia Rylant. It is about a late teenage, early adult boy John who is dealing with the hardships of World War Two. He falls in love with a girl called Ginny who has a strong opinion about the war. He lives in a gloomy town call Pittsburgh and tries to live his life around the war. He then decides to join and this dramatically changes his life forever. I would rate this book a 3/4 because it can be very slow to read but it has good historic information. Overall I thought this book is okay and enjoyed reading it!

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  23. I really enjoyed the book I had seen castles. It stars John and Ginny, and it is a book we read for english. Read and see the hardship people faced during the first world war. How the war effected the economy and working class people. I recommend this book for people over the age of 10 because it has some fairly deep scenes.

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  24. Ellie said:

    I Had Seen Castles is a perfect book for anyone to read who wants to learn more about life during the war. It is very informative and educational, but also has an interesting backstory into the character’s personal life. Although it can be slow at the start, the book soon becomes hard to put down as the reader becomes involved in 17-year-old John’s journey. John experiences the sadness and tragedy of war as it tears apart his life and does not live up to the glamorous adventure he expected. This book is inspirational and shows what people will fight for, but also the waste of lives that war makes. I recommend it for people who enjoy a love story and are interested in wars, and are aged over 12. I rate it a 7/10.

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  25. I had seen castles is a novel about a man called John and a woman called Ginny. They fall madly i love right before John has to leave because he enlisted to go to the war. It is about the hardships they faced of the time and how the war effected everyone. It effected John’s mum, dad, sister, Ginny and all the girls like Johns sister, in the town who would go around and get engaged with several men because they would do anything to please them because most of America’s men were going off to war. I recommend this book for people 9ver the age of 12, as it does have some graphic describing scenes, and we read it for our year 9 english class.

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  26. What an amazing book, ‘I Had Seen Castles’ by Cynthia Rylant is such an incredible book and I highly recommend it to everyone in Secondary School and young adults. I Had Seen Castles is a 1993 novella for young adults by the American writer and Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant. It is a story about a young American named John Dante who enthusiastically enlists into the army in 1942 but soon comes to understand the horrors of war. It is an anti-war novel. I rate this book a 10/10 and highly recommend it to everyone at Sacred Heart.

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  27. I enjoyed the book I Had Seen Castles because it gave me a different view on the war as we watched through the eyes of John as he faced the trials and tribulations associated with war. My favourite character in the book is Ginny as she had to have an opinion and voice it which was a rarity from women in the time and still to this day is a really admirable quality. I would recommend this book to teenagers and older as it isn’t an easy read and has some truly eye opening scenes in it. I would rate this book a 8/10

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  28. I Had Seen Castles: Cynthia Rylant
    I Had Seen Castles is a classic book written about the war. It is a tragic love story between a man who goes off to fight and a women who is completely against the war. John decides to go off to war to fight for his country as he believes that is the right thing to do. He saw himself fighting to save and protect his country however upon arrival from the war he realised that this was not the case. During the war John saw things that no one should ever see and he experienced things no one should ever experience. He saw some of his best mates die in front of him or get blown up. Maybe the war didn’t kill John but it certainly broke him. Ginny was left at home waiting for John to come back however she was scared she had to move on as she might never see John again so that’s exactly what she did. When John came home he lost everything, the love of his life, his best mates and his family. When John returned home he realised that Ginny was right and war is not the answer. The Book was beautifully written and the story between John and Ginny was tragic but created an amazing story. 8/10

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  29. When time goes on and our experiences grow, our perspective of the past varies. ‘I Had Seen Castles shows us this in a variety of ways. We see John’s transformation, then, as a result of that, his realisations. The author of the novel ‘I Had Seen Castles’, Cynthia Rylanthas, incorporated different tenses appropriately to provide the readers with a fuller understanding of John’s journey. She reveals to us the different perspectives of John Dante as a 17 year old boy and as a 67 year old man. This technique was a risky way of writing this book, as people can easily get confused, but it worked to her advantage and had a strong effect. Cynthia uses honest language that draws the reader in, and wrote in first person so we feel like we are on this journey with John. This is a good way to connect to the readers’ emotions. Context is a very important part of books, so the readers don’t get lost. The author of this novel has written in context well, so that it was easy to relate to on some level. As a result, in this novel, Cynthia has given us important information about John’s journey, including his family, Ginny and war, in an interesting and unique way. This book teaches us heaps about WW ll and it’s effects. I think it’s a very worth while book to read:)

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  30. I Had Seen Castles is a very sad, dull and bleak story, set in America, surrounding the events of the second World War in the eyes of a young boy who has registered in the war. The short novel explores the themes of love and adventure before the war. This is shown through the character of Ginny who gives John the experience of a love to live for, something that he’ll want to come back home for. We are then shown the impacts war has made on the lives of many army recruits and their loved ones. The tragic story through the eyes of John is definitely worth a read as it’ll leave you wanting to know more about the history of World War II. My favourite character would have to be Ginny as her eyes are open and she really does believe that the War is bad. I would rate this book 8/10 as it can be quite confronting at times, but I still really enjoyed reading this book.

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  31. I loved the book ‘I Had Seen Castles’ by Cynthia Rylant. It was a very heartfelt and emotional book to read which made it great. It made you feel a lot of things as well. My favourite character was Ginny as she was so outgoing and confident in a time of such devastation. I loved the story about John and Ginny and how their different opinions didn’t separate them. I give this book a 7/10.

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  32. I Had Seen Castles is a book that we are required to read in Year 9 English. It is a book about John Dante and his experience of the World War and America’s participation in it. He at first doesn’t have an opinion about it and just follows and believes all the propaganda and talk proposed by the public, until we are introduced to Ginny. Ginny changes his life forever. Ginny is definitely my favourite character because she is very honest about her opinion and respects everyone else’s as well. She is very influential to John, before he goes to war. She doesn’t want him to go to war but he still does and we know that he regrets it for the rest of his life. This book is really good and I absolutely loved it. It is educational, but also touching with romance and information about the war at that time. It is a superb book that I would recommend to others who aren’t already going to read it. It is suitable for all ages above probably 13 years old, even though I think it is meant for elderly people because of the type of language used in it, but it is still a really enjoyable novel that I will soon read again! 8 out of 10!

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  33. linara said:

    The book I had seen castles is a very good book because I think that many people don’t realise what it felt to be in war. When you read this book you get all the feelings of what their parents are feeling and I think that unless you read this book you don’t really know what it is like to go to war and fight. People know that it is war but they don’t know how much suffering there is for these people. I think that everyone should read this book as it gives a understanding of how hard war is.

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  34. I love it when individuals come together and share views.

    Great blog, keep it up!

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  35. N.Reid said:

    I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant is a great book full of teenage romance, adventure and war. John is a young 17 year old boy who desperately wants to be recruited for the army to prove his manliness. His new girlfriend named Ginny tries to talk him out of it because she is deeply in love with him and doesn’t want him to leave. John goes to war but soon realises that it was nothing like he expected, but instead it was full of horror and suffering.
    This book was very enjoyable, as it was short, simple and sweet. I would recommend it to anyone over and high school age. 7/10.

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  36. I absolutely love this book because it has a bit of everything in it. It includes drama, sadness, romantic parts and many more. I loved this book because it was never boring. It always kept you hooked and interested in what could happen next. My favourite part of the book was when the main character John and his girlfriend Ginny go on their first date. They both have never done this before and just the pictures in your mind create this amazing feeling. My favourite character was John simply because he is the narrator of the book also. The story is him writing about his life leading up the present day. John is full of wonder and experiences many emotions in the book. If I could change something about the book, it could be including more characters other than John’s family and his girlfriend Ginny. I would definitely recommend this book for others because it is a short simple but wonderful book that keeps your hooked. I rate this book an 9 out of 10.

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  37. ‘I had seen castles’ is a great novel about propaganda and war, and how it can influence the young people and how they think. Cynthia Rylant truly shows the frustration and regret one must feel after experiencing the bloodshed and emotions of war through the eyes of the main character, John Dante. I’m not usually interested in historical and war tripe books, but surprisingly this book was quite interesting. However I didn’t like young John all that much as his main motives for going to war just seemed to be ‘because everyone else does’ and I don’t usually take a liking to characters who just do what everyone else does. But I really liked his girlfriend Ginny as she had a lot of depth and colour to her character. She was also wise and knew what was best for John. Overall this is a good read and depicts what it was like for a young boy and his family in ww2 excellently.

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  38. We red the book I had seen castles for school so we could create an essay about it. I don’t normally enjoy reading books about war, but after reading this I grew quite an interesting in it. I also went home and watched pearl harbour. My favourite parts of this book was when John Dante’s said the quote ““It is almost impossible for a parent to hold a secret from a child. Children, without the skills of language, spend years developing instead an intuition. By the time they are fifteen, as I was, they are masters of a kind of clairvoyance that tells them, He is depressed, He is frightened, He is pleased.” I liked this because it relates to the readers. My favourite character is Ginny Burton because she was different to the other girls of that time. Ginny is an independent thinker and a free spirit, and John finds her to be a remarkable person because of these qualities. I can not relate to this story on a personal level, but I have heard many stories about the struggles of war and in some cases how it helped people. My least favourite part of this book was when John left Gennys letters behind, I found that heart braking. I thought they were soul mates and that they could over come there strong opinions and forgive each other. That would defiantly be the part I would change. I would make them end up together and forgive each other. I make john except Genny opinion and she was right earlier. I would recommend this book to people 13+ because it could be a hard read for people younger and it may not make sense to them. You should defiantly read this book though, it turned out to be better then what I expected.

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  39. ‘I had seen castles’ by Cynthia Rylant is the story of John Dante, a young man who gets sent off to the second world war. The book explores many powerful themes and gives plenty of insight into how life was at the time. It is a fascinating tale that contains a very important message. I studied this book in year 9 and I throughly enjoying reading it. I would rate it a 7 out of 10, and would recommend it to anyone wondering about war, the 1940s or just wants to read a book filled with adventure, sadness and love.

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  40. Georgia said:

    I Had Seen Castles was a great book that gave me mixed emotions. it gave me a backfill on War in a way that was interesting. Throughout the book the main character John experiences loss, in all different ways. He looses his dad because he has to work, he looses his mum because she has to make money and work at the factories. He looses Ginny because he enlisted to war and most importantly he looses himself. Before war John was innocent but because if the retrospect point of view we learn in the book that John ha learnt and become more mature. When John looses Ginny it made me really sad because this would have happened to so many people in this time. I think that this book should be read by people who are mature enough to understand the concepts and what happened in this time, 1942. I recommend this book to people 13 years and older because it requires great knowledge and understanding. I rate this book a 8/10

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  41. I Had Seen Castles is a novel based on the life of a soldier in World War 2 in America looking back on his life. I loved the way it was written, and the meaning behind it. If I had to have a favourite character it would definitely be Ginny because she had so much courage throughout the novel. Her ability to speak her mind and not be afraid of being judged or looked down upon is truly inspirational, and the way she conducts herself in front of John before he goes to war is something you can not forget. This novel about John’s struggles and the way that he faces them and how he grows as an individual and his out look on war is changed and his world is alternated forever. I have seen Castles is an outstanding book for many reasons and I recommend it to anyone that enjoys learning and reading about the war, with a little romance added.

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  42. ‘I Had Seen Castles’ is an amazing book about the life of a young innocent boy that is forced with propaganda into war, as he grows older he learns from his experiences and values the things in life more. I loved this book so much, it made me have a better understanding of the impact of war time and the lifestyle in 1942. This booked helped me connect more with my Nonno who was at war as well. This book was sad at times but I couldn’t help but read more of it. I would rate this book at 9 out of 10 because I liked how Cynthia Rylant set the scene when John was a kid then when he was at war and then back to him being a kid and and old man. I suggest this book for 13 year olds and above. Over all, this was a great book, I loved it and i’d read it again!

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  43. I read “I Had Seen Castles” as my term 1 novel in english and found it amazing! The start, admittedly was a bit boring but as the events in the novel carried out and war came it got a lot more interesting. I had no idea war was so horrific for the soldiers and this book really opened my eyes. Through this novel the hardships of losing friends, family and loved ones is highlighted clearly as John looses Ginny, Tony and all the soldiers of his squad. I recommend this book for anyone who likes romance and emotional experiences. I would rate it 8/10 because even though the book got better and better the start didn’t pull me in straight away.

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  44. I had seen castles was is a wonderful book! I really loved the way it was written it is engaging, yet quite an easy read. Johns reflections and coming of age really showed me how much one person and one bad choice can effect the rest of your life I never understood what PST was until I read this book I gained knowledge not only about the war and its effect but the era the book was set.
    I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read that is interested in history.

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  45. The brilliant novel “I Had Seen Castles” is such a great book that shows the shocking truth of war. Cynthia Rylant has written this novel really well, in a way that expresses how war impacts everyone involved in it and how society is so easily swayed by propaganda. The story is set in World War II and focusses on John Dante, a young man only 17, who is so certain that he would never go to war if ever called upon those duties, but as soon as America is bombed, the country loses its innocence and John is soon caught up in the patriotic fever, along with thousands of other naive, young men. Before John enlists, he meets an extraordinary young girl named Ginny, who he falls in love with despite their views of war. At the age of 17, John doesn’t realise why Ginny was so extraordinary, but when he looks back on their time together he realises why; Ginny had the courage to speak out in such a cowardly time, and it isn’t until after having experienced the traumas of war that John realises how right Ginny was about war because it doesn’t solve anything, and it is just a bloody battlefield of dismembered young men, whom were fed the false hope of a quick, easy war and who were told that the enemy were not humans when they were purely just shooting other boys like themselves. Overall, this is an exceptional novel that projects emotional truths and is written with heartbreaking honesty. I would definitely rate it 10/10 as it is also a short and sharp read that gives you so much insight into the horrors of war.

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  46. I Had Seen Castles is a fantastic book written by Cynthia Rylant. It shows different views on war you might not have thought of before. It’s short and sweet and follows the story of a young man called John. My favourite part of this book is when John meets Ginny because it adds some spark into the book. This book also gives you some knowledge on war. I rate this book a 8/10 and recommend it !!

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  47. This book is incredible. Probably the best book an SHC english class has to offer. It is a novel that both educates you and breaks your heart. When John meets Ginny, he falls in love at an instant. His world is rocked as he admires an independent, progressive young woman, who knows what she wants. The only problem is, she has a completely different view on the big issue of the time; WWII. While young 17 year old John wants to go out and fight for the freedom of his country, Ginny disagrees the idea of the war, calling the American’s patriotism “propaganda”. While this does cause friction between the young lovers, they spend their remaining few days together, before John leaves for the war. While he experiences many damaging things throughout the war, Ginny becomes John’s reason to carry on the fight, to pull through and to survive. He never forgets her. While this story is touching and does tug on the heart strings, it is an amazing tale, and I defiantly recommend for 10/10 people.

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  48. Annabelle said:

    This was a very emotional and sad story about World War II in 1942. It’s based on a 18 year old boy named John and his adventures around this horrible time. The book is about John, enlisting for war and his relationship with his family and his Girlfriend, Ginny. Read this book to learn about how life was back then and how John went during the World War II.
    This is such an amazing book that I would rate 9/10 and recommend it to people 12+.

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  49. Annabelle said:

    This was a very emotional and sad story about World War II in 1942. It’s based on a 18 year old boy named John and his adventures around this horrible time. The book is about John, enlisting for war and his relationship with his family and his Girlfriend, Ginny. Read this book to learn about how life was back then and how John went during the World War II.
    This is such an amazing book that I would rate 9/10 and recommend it to people 12+.

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  50. Georgia said:

    I thought that I had seen castles was a good book. It had a lot of themes in it, including, war, romance, mystery, and it was sad. My favourite part of the book was when John meets Ginny because normally you wouldn’t be falling off a bus and I liked how different Ginny was to the other girls in that time. Ginny is my favourite character because she is nice and is not afraid to say what she thinks but also is strong and is never put down by other people. My least favourite part would have been that at the start of the book was quite boring and didn’t hook me in. I would recommend this book to people 12 and older. and overall, it was a good read. 7/10

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  51. This novel displayed the naivety and disillusionment of the population during war time brilliantly. I really like how it is written, and how Ginny’s difference of opinion at first troubles John. I’m glad that they gave us this book to read for English because it had good quotes and was easy to write an essay about because it had so many topics throughout it. My favourite Character would be John because his life is a great example of how certain people and events can change an individual into someone so different. Anyone above the age of 13 should be able to understand and enjoy the book. I would rate this book a 6/10.

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  52. I read the book I had Seen Castles. It is about a boy called John who ives in the time of WW2. He experiences many challenges which he must face coming from his family and the love of his life, Ginny. John realises that as we age, our view of the past changes and end up as things we later regret. I loved this book. It took me a while to get into it but once I did, I couldn’t put the book down. I would rate this book a 9/10 and I would recommend it to people who are above the age of 13 other wise they wouldn’t understand the context of the story. Overall I believe it is a great book which gives you a greater perspective on life.

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  53. As part of a school assessment we were told to read the book ‘I Had Seen Castles’ by Cynthia Rylant, at first I was very hesitant and kept putting it off and off. When I finally began reading it I couldn’t put the novel down as I just wanted to read it more and more. I did get a bit confused when it kept going back and forth to different eras but soon along it became clearer. This is not normally the genre I would read but I was really interested in it, though the type of language was not something I enjoyed reading. This novel taught me many life lessons as well as history about the past. Though this novel is very short it gave a lot of details about what was going on. I recommend this book to anyone who is interest in war and a bit of romance, I rate the book a 6/10 .

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  54. After at first not being to sure about this book, after I finished the last page I realised what a truly amazing book it is! It is very descriptive over the events that John has lived through and how war impacts him and all those who were also apart of the war.
    We see how through age and maturity war changes Johns perspective on what he once thought as John first believed that war was a wonderful experience and that he would be named as a hero through enlisting into war. After what he sees and experiences he learns that war is damaging not only physically but also mentally and we see this, as he returns from war as a completely different person. Before his departure, Ginny his love who is against war tires to persuade him out of it as she knows just how horrible it is, but John believes that what he is getting told by propaganda is right and that it is best for him to go.
    At 67 John reflects back on his mistakes and what he wished he could say to Ginny now.
    I would recommend this book to anyone who is into war and its history. I give it a 7/10

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  55. I recently read the book, ‘I Had Seen Castles’ and really enjoyed learning about people’s experience on war. ‘I Had Seen Castles’ is an interesting novel about the effect of World War Two on soldiers and their families. I found the book very interesting and would recommend the book to people over the age of 12 and if they are interested in history and war. My favourite character is Ginny because she is a strong independent girl that is not persuaded by anything or anyone. I would rate I Had Seen Castles 7/10 because at some stages, the novel got boring but for most of it, I was interested in what was happening in the book.

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  56. I didn’t really like this book because there wasn’t really a major event. It was this same the whole way through the book. I enjoyed unpacking it because it open my eyes to new things but the book wasn’t very exciting. It didn’t take long to get into the book it was sort of straight to the point which I liked. I liked how the author used retrospect to help us understand the book. This book was sad but exciting as well. You felt really involved with how the characters were feeling. I would rate this book a 5/10 and I recommend it to people over 12.

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  57. I Had Seen Castles is such a fantastic novel. Short and easy to read, it was such a pleasant book with witty and intelligent characters and beautiful descriptions.

    Set in America during WWII, John is a young man who wants to go and fight. He is in love with Ginny who doesn’t believe in war. Their differences eventually mean that they drift apart. Both John and Ginny define each other as a coward and don’t realise this until later.

    I Had Seen Castles is one of my favourite books. It shows that the War was not a good time. All the hero stories aren’t really true. It was hard and strenuous. It also demonstrates that War takes its tole on relationships and families, and many soldiers lost the love of their lives. At the end of the novel John says that he still loves Ginny and he wants to tell her she had been right. Right about not going to war and why it was wrong.

    This is a very beautiful book and whoever reads it will love it. 5 / 5

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  58. I Had Seen Castles is a very well written novel and as a reader, you start to learn about the characters a lot. I really loved how this book is based about a young boy and his journey throughout the war time period. I really have an interest in this topic and I really learnt a lot. The way it is written is very clever as Cynthia Rylant shows the different purpose of characters. My favourite character by far was Ginny as she was an exceptional character and throughout the story you can see how well her character is displayed and how important she is, especially to John. I would rate this book a 9/10 as it is very well written and we are able to have a clear understanding of the true effect of war and it is just a short, enjoyable book to read. Anyone in high school and older would be able to read this book as you would need a good understanding of war and the aspects of it that this book is presenting itself with.

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  59. In class we have recently studied the book “I had seen castles” by Cynthia Rylant. I loved that we could explain every aspect and discover new bits of the books that I might not of picked up on if I read this book for pleasure. John is living in Pittsburg a place that is black and smells of coal but john accepts this because he has a nice house and a wealthy family. There is heaps of propaganda about the war that John believes 100%. As John is catching a bus one day he falls of and gets picked up by a stunning girl by the name if Ginny. They fall in love but have one difference. Ginny can’t see why John has to go to war. John tries to explain that it’s “for the country” but it’s no use. Its like talking to a brick wall. John does end up going to war and after, when John understands Ginny was right never keeps in contact with Ginny again. It’s a short love story with a sad ending. I really enjoyed it!
    8/10

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  60. This book was amazing. I loved every aspect of it. The love, the war and all the characters. This is the best school book I’ve read. It has amazing power and gives a whole new outlook on war. The end was all I wanted. . The novel is only short so it’s really easy to read.Its a really good book and i would recommend it to veryonne because it shows the real impact of year on people and family and how we can grow from that impact

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  61. This was a very good book in my opinion. Though this sounds like a very sad and dull book it is actually very good. It taught me a lot on what I was interested in on the topic and history of war. I can’t imagine what life would have been like then but i know that i would have hated it, I didn’t like how there were so few characters in the story. I would have liked to see more interaction with friends and family. I did enjoy this book but I am not much of a reader but the book was good. I rate this book a 7 / 10

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  62. I read this book for school this year and enjoyed it very much. I gave us an insight into how life was before they war during the and after the war. It showed us how the war affect boy and there families. It was interesting how Cynthia Rylant wrote the book like John is writing it as he remembers how his life was back then before, during and after the war. I recommend this book to every one how like reading about the war, I give this book a 8 out of 10.

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  63. I had seen castle is a book you read in 9. I have read the book and working on it in class and I can tell you one thing, it is an awesome book. This book is about a 17 year old boy named John who wants to go to war. His sister Diane, is a girl who dates a lot of young solider men. John meets a girl named Ginny and he madly falls in love with her but there are a few problems with Ginny. John wants to go to the war but he than changes his mind. If I was in Johns position, I would not be happy to go to war because you could be killed in a minute and you could never see the people you loved again. I give this book a 9/10, when you go to year 9 or if you have already read this book, you know why it is such an amazing book.

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  64. I have just finished this book, and I loved it!! It is a great and sad story that gives a really good insight into world war 2. This book is about a boy/man named John. The book switches from John as an old man to a teenager. It is about John retelling his story of the war. I really like the way this book is told. I also love the fact that it gives an inside on the Pacific war and not just the European war. Many historical things are mentioned in this book, Pearl Harbour, Germany surrounding and the force of the Japanese. This book also gives a great insight on how everyone was effected during the war. John’s mother is forced to work in a factory while Johns father is away working on the U.S bomb. His sister Diane is caught up with five boys wanting her. John is effected by his family and the fact that when he turns eighteen he will have to sign up. Ginny also plays a big role in this book. Ginny is John’s only true love. Ginny and him of on many adventures and the ending with Ginny made me quite sad. I give this book a 7/10. It may be a short book but good things come in small packages.

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  65. The first chapter of I Had Seen Castles was really confusing. It was a bit dull and I didn’t understand what was trying to be said. But after I started reading through chapters two and three I started to really enjoy reading this book. I have always had an interest for war stories but this one was different. Exploring the thoughts that John Dante had before he signed up to join the war and after he was finished serving and came home was interesting. I didn’t have a favourite characters or a favourite part in the book. I liked certain traits and elements of each characters and had times when I didn’t like them at all but then they would do or say something and become one of the characters I liked best. Overall, I really liked this book because it was well written with a great story line. I rate this book a 4 out of 5.

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  66. I read “I Had Seen Castles” by Cynthia Rylant. This book is about war. I normally wouldn’t of picked up this book to read but because it was for school I had to. But I am very glad I had to because it was a very good book! It was never boring or dry, it had exquisite detail and a very thrilling plot. My favourite character would have to be the main character, John. I like John the most because all through the book he shows persistance on how he wants to help his country by going to war. Even though I new quite a bit about the war, this book educated me about the topic a little bit more. I would rate this book a 7/10 because it was a little bit predictable. I would recommend this book for 13+ because some of the parts in the book could be found inappropriate. Great book!

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  67. I read this book last year for one of my english texts. It was an awesome book because it gave us a little bit of an outline how how war was and how they kind of coped. I really like how this book was set up and how the old man wrote diary entries every now and again telling what he remembered from his war experience. I would recommend this book to people that love war and are interested it that history type of thing. I rate it a 7/10.

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  68. This book, I had seen castles is a book about a young boy named John who begins off as a 17 year old boy who wants to go to war, but has to wait until his 18th birthday. While John a waits his 18th birthday he meets this girl called ginny, who he falls in love with. When John is finally 18 he goes to war, but it is then that he realises that this is not what he wanted and that he knows he will never be able to sleep again knowing that so many innocent people died right before his eyes.
    This book was very interesting and sad at parts but I would defiantly recommend this book to people who love war books.

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  69. I thought that I had seen castles was a good book. It had a lot of genres in it, including, war, romance, mystery, peace and is also quite sad. My favourite part of the book was when John meets Ginny. I thought it was quite a funny conversation, and I liked how different Ginny was to the other girls. Ginny is my favourite character, because she is quite nice, and is not afraid to say what she thinks, even if it is against the majority of the population of America. I agree with Ginny that it isn’t right that America should go to war, but I also think that it would be wrong of America to not retaliate to the bombings of Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. If I could change something about the book, it would be amount of time that they have in the book that is before the war. I started to get a bit bored, because it was taking forever to get to the war. There was virtually nothing about when he came back after the war either. It was also a bit difficult to understand, because one minute he is 17, and the next minute he is an old man. I would recommend this book to people 12 and older. Overall, it was a good read.

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  70. I Had Seen Castles is a fantastic mixture between a war and romance novel. Through the eyes of John’s past, we see his experiences leading up to war and the life he lived beforehand. My favourite character was Ginny, as Rylant portrays her as a wise character and someone that knows a lot about life and war. Ginny’s view about war is similar to the view many people have about war today, which makes I Had Seen Castles an interesting book and one that the audience can connect to. The book is laced with the history of war, and how the propaganda influenced young male’s decisions to enter the front line – because someone had to. It provided an insight for the people who may ask ‘But why didn’t they just say no?’. Although an educational text, I Had Seen Castles is an entertaining, emotional book that teaches the audience about life and love. 8/10.

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  71. This was a fantastic book that I would recommend for anyone over the age of 13. ‘I had seen castles’ is eye opening and confronting at times but the author Cynthia Rylant has done this in a way in which you can enjoy the book. The romance aspect makes you want to keep reading and never put the book down. My favourite character is Jinny because she has a warm and unique personality. I would rate this book an 8 out of 10. I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘i had seen castles’ and would recommend reading it!

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  72. Casey said:

    I Had Seen Castles, by Cynthia Rylant is an amazing story that involves love, adventure and war. We read this book in Year 9 for English. It is about a 1y year old boy called John who goes to war in order to protect his country. The book explores what happens before during and after the war. I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well written and gave the reader a clear idea of how war was for young boys like John. I recommend this book to 13+ and I rate it a 9/10

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  73. This book was amazing. I loved every aspect of it. The love, the war and all the characters. This is the best school book I’ve read. It has amazing power and gives a whole new outlook on war. The end was all I wanted. When reading it in class, the whole room was left feeling warm inside and content. The novel is only short so it’s really easy to read. This book was so beautiful and there were so many sentences that just took my breath away. I would highly recommend for anyone.

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  74. I Had Seen Castles is a great book which deeply explores what wartime was really like, it makes the reader not want to put the book down as it is so captivating.
    Reading the book I learn’t so much of what the war was like, and it all was really touching and a bit sad as well
    The author had made such a great job in her research for this book and did a fantastic job putting the book together.
    I have to say I really like Ginny, she is really wise and has a mature opinion on war, she knows what it is really about and what really happens.
    The whole book teaches you about propaganda and the tricks it can play, I would recommend this book for teenagers as it has such great lessons in there for them and can educate teenagers on what the war was like.

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  75. I didn’t except it but I quite enjoyed this book as it was a book I had to read for english I didn’t think I would like it but I did. My favourite part of the book was when John left for war. He went through all the towns and he was being treated like a heroic figure but once he got to war he realised that wasn’t the case. I liked this part as it was really deep and interesting to read. My favourite character was Ginny as she was a independent and courageous figure. She stood up for what was right and was frighten by what others thought of her. She was a really strong and inspirational figure in this book. One think I didn’t like about the book was that at the end John didn’t try hard enough to see Ginny so if I could change the book I would make John see Ginny again at the end of the book. I recommend this book to 12+ as although it was an amazing book it might be a bit violent for anyone younger. Definitely a 10/10.

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  76. As this is a book that was needed to read for school, I did not chose to read it myself. This is a book that takes a lot of understanding of words and phrases as it is based on the time of WW2. It is very emotional and informative book of what time was like back then. It holds many important aspects of what soldiers did do during war and what families were like in such a terrible time. John continually wishes he could go back in time to when he had no troubles or worries. He wishes he had listened to his girlfriend Ginny and never got involved. When arriving home from war after all the death and suffering he had seen he didn’t feel as if he belonged. He couldn’t see himself as an innocent 17 year old anymore. He then goes to live in France because he believes America had not suffered. He felt he needed to be with those who had been through the terrible ordeals he had. John goes through a lot during his time at war and so do people around him. Heartache, sorrow, loss and hurt are experienced all throughout the book. I love this book and everything about it, I suggest that you read it and I give it a 10 out of 10.

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  77. I have always found books about war really interesting so naturally, I read this book the very day I got it for year 9 English this year. It was unlike any other book about world war II that I have ever read, the way it was narrated by a 67 year old man looking back on his naive 17 year old self, reflecting on everything he did. It is an inspirational book that shows us that war doesn’t solve problems, it creates more. John thought that war would be a romantic adventure, not listening to Ginny’s plea and being swept up by all the propaganda around him. Instead, after a month on the front line, John knew it to be what it was – a hellish war, killing not the sub-jungle creature enemy, but young boys like himself. This book teaches us a lesson of not to be swept up by what everyone else around us is doing, but to stand true to what you believe and to be a conscientious objector, and stand up for yourself and your own individuality.

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  78. This is a book that I had to read this year for English, and honestly at first I really wasn’t looking forward to reading it. But when I started reading I couldn’t stop and read it in no time at all. I thought that this book was very interesting and gave me a real insight on what the second world war was like. This book is written in a way were it is from an old man perspective and is written like his journal, him reflecting on his life and his experience before and after World war 2. I am also currently enjoying really learning more about the book and studying it during my English lessons. I throughly enjoyed this book and thought it was overall a great read.

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  79. Hayley said:

    I Had Seen Castles is an eye-opening book to the harsh realities of war. It tells the story of John and his journey through the time of war. He leaves the love of his life, Ginny, behind as he begins his journey through trenches and war zones, even though she begs him not to go. His desire to not become a coward, overpowers his love for Ginny and only realises his mistakes 50 years later. This book it really interesting, especially for History buffs! It tells a heartbreaking yet exciting story of John and how he tries to survive through the war and not only physically, but emotionally. This is definitely a good read!

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  80. As this is a book that was needed to read for school, I did not chose to read it myself. This is a book that takes a lot of understanding of words and phrases as it is based on the time of WW2. It is very emotional and informative book of what time was like back then. It holds many important aspects of what soldiers did do during war and what families were like in such a terrible time. This book is based on the one boy and his life going to war and how his family, friends relationship and every day life activities changed after going to war. I had trouble understanding some parts of the book that I needed to search the definition of. I enjoyed it very much as it was a book that you wanted to keep reading and didn’t want to put it down. I would love to read it again to receive the real understanding of what is truly going on and able to clearly reflect on what I had read. I would recommend this book for ages around 14+ as there are many things that are hard to understand. I would rate this book a 7/10 🙂

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  81. I Had Seen Castles was one of my favourite books that I read in Year 9. I love reading stories about the war and this one was from the point of view from a soldier so that was even more interesting. This book actually taught me a lot about the propaganda that is involved in the war and how much life has changed for us since WW2. It was incredible to read this book and think that real people actually went through this and it isn’t all fictional even though we would hope it to be. I enjoyed reading about the love story involved with Ginny and John and how they came together and spread apart. This book was really well written and i thoroughly enjoyed it! I rate it 9/10.

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  82. This book was my absolute favourite to analyse for year 9. It was actually quite interesting for a war story because it had insight into John’s love life and thoughts/problems. The book also had a good history into how propaganda shaped John. Ginny is an interesting character because she is very individual and her thoughts on war make you think about the book when you’re not reading it. If I were writing the book I would have Ginny’s point of view more but other than that the book is great. Maybe even a second one to see how he is now. It’s quite a sad book with not always the happiest of endings but I think that makes it interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone in year 9 and above because it starts off with John our age and ends in him very old. I give it a 8/10

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  83. Sophie said:

    This is quite a sad book but it is not a bad read. It is about a young boy called John living in a time of war. His opinions on war are straight however determined by propaganda. It isn’t until he meets Ginny that he questions what he believes in but still not enough to stop him from going to the war. Once he is in the war he realises everything he thought he was fighting for was wrong that Ginny was right but it is too late. John becomes a bitter and resentful man because he is angry that he was tricked. It is quite a depressing book because John because a very sad man loosing himself and many other things. I feel quite sorry for John because the choices he made when he was a young 17 year old changed his life forever. However this book has many interesting issues and it very interesting to study. I suggest anyone over 13 could read this book and I give it a 7/10. 🙂

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  84. This was definitely my favourite book for the yr 9 reading list as I absolutely loved it. I read it in one sitting during, and physically could not put it down. My favourite character was Ginny, the headstrong girl from Bart who wasn’t going to let her time and place effect her. She was able to see through the propaganda when most people weren’t, but most of all was able to love John in spite of their differences. Although this book is about war, it is about so much more; innocence, love and becoming a victim of your time a place. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to read and become completely immersed in the book.

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  85. This is definitely one of my favourite books. It took me a while to get into it as at the start I was a bit confused as the book it written in a very different way to most books. Throughout the book it swaps between the past and the present day. In this book John is actually an old man but he is reflecting back on his life when he was 17 years old and then when he went to the war. I feel very sorry for John throughout this book becuase of all the things he went through. The war affects him very strongly and he comes out of a war as a different person. As an old man looking back on his life he has so many regrets. This book is such a good book and I would definitely recommend it to others. It is such an interesting book and it gives you a really good insight into what life was like in the war.

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  86. This was a very good book in my opinion, regardless of my pre-formed opinions about it. It took me a while to really get into it, as I found the first two chapters quite boring. Cynthia Rylant used so much descriptive language in this book, and it made me feel as though I was actually in the book, experiencing the events from right beside the main characters. Her words brought such vivid images into my head, something not many books can do.
    My favourite character was Ginny, because she was brave enough to see through the propaganda and to have her won opinions on everything.
    I thought that there was not enough in the book about the actual war, because the whole time John was at war only took up about 5 pages.
    I would definitely recommend reading this book to people over the age of 12, because I could not put it down and it left me speechless, and I hope others find the same enjoyment in reading it. I rate it a 10/10.

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  87. I Had Seen Castles is a novel based on the life of a soldier in World War 2 in America looking back on his life. The story rides through the highs and the deep lows of War and how it effects the individual, family and friends. There was so much meaning in the book and so much said about the difficulty soldiers had not only seeing people destroyed before their eyes during the war, however after the war how broken they became. It displays the difficulty of trying to get back to your old life when they “went into the war as boys and came out as men”. John, the main character, is able to find truth and love before he leaves for war which changes him in ways that other boys going through the same situations did not. It is a great book for seeing the eyes of those who were soldiers in World War 2 in America. I would rate this story 4 out of 5 stars and I hope that others can get as much out of it as I did.

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  88. I enjoyed the book I Had Seen Castles because it gave the reader a different view on the war as we lived through the eyes of John as he faced the trials and tribulations associated with war. My favourite character in the book is Ginny as she wasn’t afraid to have an opinion and voice it which was a rarity from women in the time and still to this day is a really admirable quality. I would recommend this book to teenagers and older as it isn’t an easy read and has some truly eye opening scenes in it.

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  89. I Had Seen Castles is a novel based around a soldiers pre and post life he lived as a result of World War II. The book is very different to any other books I have read because of the way it is written. The first time I read this book, I didn’t enjoy it at all as I didn’t really find there was any meaning to it, however after reading the book for a second time and after studying the story closer and with more detail in class, I developed a very different opinion. Although I didn’t love the book originally to start with, it grew on me. I would recommend this book to young adults or older as it maybe be for people, like myself, difficult to get the meaning of the story.

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  90. Tylah said:

    This book is very creative in the way it is written. I really enjoyed seeing through the eyes of a young solider it was quite eye opening and insightful which gives me great gratitude. My favourite character in this book would be Ginny as she stands up for what she believes in and doesn’t let any propaganda get in her way she thinks for herself and does not let other do for her. Although this is not my favourite book I think it is still a great read for all the knowledge it gives you. I recommend the book to an older audience as it is a difficult read.

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  91. Makayla said:

    I didn’t really like I Had Seen Castles. I loved the way it was written, and the meaning behind it but the plot line really put me off reading the book for a second time. If I had to have a favourite character it would definitely be Ginny because she had so much courage throughout the novel. Her ability to speak her mind and not be afraid of being judged or looked down upon is truly inspirational, and the way she conducts herself in front of John before he goes to war is something you can not forget. I Had Seen Castles really gives you an insight into what it was like to be a man going to war, and all the other aspects surrounding it such as education and family. I did not like I Had Seen Castles that much but I do commend the way you can develop an emotional connection from it. 7/10

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  92. Claudette said:

    I had seen Castles is a lovely read. It is pretty sad but also a very enjoyable story. It’s a novel that shows lots of different views and attitudes during the time of war, and how certain peoples beliefs can be impacted by certain opinions. I loved studying this book last year and I recommend it to anyone over 13-14 years old. 8/10 🙂

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  93. This is a really lovely book. It has been written well and through that is both enjoyable and easy to read. It shows us a lot about attitudes and views at that time and how people were feeling. It has some focus on romance but is still mainly about the war. The main character John, tells the story of this life during the war and we learn about his family and friends. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about the war and books were the main character reflects on his past and retells a story. I would rate it an 7.5/10 because its not the best book although it is good.

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  94. This book was a really enjoyable read for a school book. It was interesting with a romantic story line. The ending is just so perfect and I love it. How he falls in love with someone and than has to go to war, this emotion shown through-out the whole book would be very related bale to many people of that time in war, and gives us a really good insight into how people felt. It also taught me what the teenage boys went through at war and how it impacts someones life forever. From the horrible scenes at war we see how john changes and how the impacts his life after war. I loved this book and rate it a 8/10

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  95. Holly said:

    This is such a great book! It really taught me we teenage boys actually wanted to fight in the war, and also how much fighting in the war, and then surviving it, impacted their whole lives. My favourite character is Ginny because she is strong minded and kind. I would recommend this book to anyone over thirteen. I also give it an 8/10, because even though it taught me a lot, it wasn’t a REALLY enjoyable book and it was a little short.

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  96. Eibhlis said:

    I know that we had to read this book for year 9 English but it left such a mark on me after reading it that I was glad I’d read it. The book is set around the time of World War two and what I really liked about it was that it wasn’t from the point of view of an Englishman or a German it was from an American point of view. I found that perspective very unusual at first because I never knew that they Americans were very ‘in’ the war and that it affected them too. The author showed how the boy was feeling and how pressured he was about going into the war, the mixed emotions he was feeling and other the time of the book how his thoughts and feeling about the war had changed. The author showed his excitement about being a soldier at last as he had been waiting to go but his fear and dread at the possibilities at what might occur to him. I was so intrigued on his love for Ginny, it was so different. She fascinated him and angered and frustrated him at the same time. She did not believe in War and was upset and angry at John for joining. Encouraging him not to sign up and stay. But despite that anger and hurt she loved him as much as he loved her. This book sought of leaves you in the lurch about these two in the end but I like that kind of ending. It’s only a little book and it doesn’t take long to read but it’s worthwhile and the writing is quality. It really opened my eyes as to what the soldiers really went through in the war, the gruesome sights and I have a new found respect to those who fought in the war.
    I rate this book 9/10.

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  97. This novel brilliantly displayed the naivety and disillusionment of the population during war time. I really like how it is written, and how Ginny’s difference of opinion at first troubles John. The patriotic fever that swept the nation at the time drove many young boys to give themselves for their country. Propaganda fuelled opinions and actions, people were unaware as to the brutal realities of war. I like how the name of the story; ‘I had seen castles’ relates to the point where John comes to realise the reality of war. He sees bloddy sheep in the meadow near a castle, and he realises that no one is exempt from war. I really like how Ginny’s difference of opinion is in the minority, confidently standing up against what everyone else has been lead to believe. She knows that war doesn’t solve difference and know what really goes on. I love how after war, and through his reflection, the words of Ginny ring true for John. He comes of age and realises that war is not fun, you’re not fighting for your country, but to stay alive. It’s young boys fighting against each other, aware of their destiny. This is my favourite book we have read in any english class, because it accurately describes war time and gives the reader an insight in to the challenges and propaganda.

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  98. We read I had seen castles in year 9 for english. It was a really good book.This novel was based around World War 2, around the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbour. The story was about a young boy named John whose innocence and naivety got the better of him, and he enlisted for war, but didn’t quite know what was waiting for him on the frontline- the trauma, the heartache, the pain, the terror, seeing your friends killed. I had seen castles was a very good book to write an essay on, as it had very significant quotes, and the whole moral of the story was excellent. I don’t have one favourite character in particular, I liked both John and also his girlfriend Ginny. I liked John because of the way he changed, and that in the end, he was able to see how naive he was, and I like Ginny because she was never afraid to say what she thought, and she was overall just a good person. I would rate this a 9/10.

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  99. I really enjoyed this book and I thought the storyline was lovely. It portrayed a very clear but interesting picture of what life was like during the time of war. I’m glad that they gave us this book to read for English because it had good quotes and was easy to write an essay about because it had so many topics throughout it. My favourite Character would be John because his life is a great example of how certain people and events can change an individual into someone so different. I also have respect for him as an older man because he has finally accepted that he was wrong and Ginny was right but it is also sad to know that it’s too late. I recommend this book to anyone over the age of 11 and rate it a 9/10.

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  100. hrowe said:

    This book is very informational but still not boring. You learn a lot about the history of world war 2 even though not all of the novel is factual. It makes you realise how much war effects peoples lives and brings them great sadness. I think its worthwhile reading because you just learn so much from it. My favourite character is John because the story is told from his perspective and therefore you get more of an insight into his personality and how he feels towards that happenings going on in his life during war. It’s great how the story starts off with him in his old age and keeps, then goes into his war experience whilst coming back to the consequences the war had on him regularly. I’d recommend it for anyone 13+

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  101. This is an amazing book! It really helped me to understand why so many people really wanted to go and fight in the war, the propaganda, pier pressure, and fear that if they do not help, and risk their lives, then they may be invaded and be killed anyway. It was really great to see both sides, the side of John, and the side of Ginny. It was also great to hear the story from the perspective of an older, and wiser John, because throughout the story, he narrated what he felt then, and what he felt now. It’s also great to see the transformation that John has, and it was interesting to read that he had to go to France because the people there would understand him. I loved this book, it was a real eye opener.

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  102. This is the best book I have ever read for school. The only thing is that it is sad! this book shows how Johns experiences, Ginny and his family shape him into a diffirent person. John at the beginning of the novel is a young naive boy who is unexposed to trauma and the war. When he meets Ginny he falls in love with her and although they have their diffirences their love is unbreakable. As John enlists his relationships with everybody changed instantly as Ginny doesn’t want him to go and his family are all going away. His life is completely changed. I would recommend this book for 13+ and would rate this book a 9/10.

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  103. This book was a great read. I loved it, throughout the novel it kept me entertained and interested. I was surprised and how much I really did like the book. Even despite the nieve and very much selfish ways of the main character John, I still found it was very interesting, as John grew from the young boy he left for war as, to the very much different man by his return. I would recommend this book for people over the age of 12, and would rate the book a 9/10 🙂

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  104. This book is truly a sad yet thrilling book. The interesting story which is told in retrospect is the story of a young and nieve boy named John going to war. John displays the losses he looses from the war. I would recommend this book for 13+ people because some language is hard to understand. I would rate this an 8/10

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  105. Zelda said:

    I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant is actually an amazing book. At the start of the book John is an innocent and naive boy who relises that his life is about to be changed for life. During the book John meets a girl called Ginny who has her own opinion about the war, she is anti-war and believes that it isn’t how we should treat people. As John enlists Ginny gets cross and it shows the differences that they both have together, but no matter what they still love each other despite their differences. This book is really good, it gives the reader an idea of what it was like for an individual on the pressures of signing up, the grief you go through during your time at war and the emotional rollacoaster you go through when coming back as a survivor.

    Definitely a 10/10

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  106. I have seen Castles is a great book it is about a young boy who is growing up in Pittsburgh at the time of World War 2. It is about his struggles and the way that he faces them and how he grows as an individual and his out look on war is changed and his world is alternated forever. I have seen Castles is an outstanding book for many reasons because it gives a really good explanation about what World War 2 is like but it explains in a really good way.
    This book is a 10/10 loves it

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  107. This is a beautiful book, showing the story of John Dante on how his life is effected by war. At the start of the book John is only a 17 year old niave and innocent boy who isn’t faced my reality yet. John thinks life is a-ok until America declares war on the japs and on the germans. John like every other teenage boy then was going to enlist himself into the war, and again like most boys before war they go finding a girl who can love them and be there possible last love, passion and warmth to the soliders. These girls are homecoming if they come home and john found himself a girl named Ginny who was like this apart from the fact that she was completely againest war and for what it stold for. For John ginny is the reason he is still alaive at the end of he book and he quotes ” its like ginny was setting out lessons for me to learn and report back to her”. Ginny was his future and her words “you will be an old man one day John, you will be an old man” are the single most words of why john is still alive today. This is a lovely book and a good read for those romantics and WW2 fans. I would give this book a 8 1/2 out of 10.

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  108. This book is set in retrospect. It is an old man telling his story back when he was 17/18. In the book it shows a lot about how the war affected everyone back then and the impact it had on America. The book shows how the main character John loses his innocence and how he is affected by all the propaganda. John finds romance in this book we this young girl called Ginny and the old man tells there relationship and explains how he has lots of regrets about how he acted and the decisions he made back then. I enjoyed this book and think that it is one of my favourite books I have read for english so far.

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  109. I hate being forced to read books. Really I do. But I truly loved this one, and I was glad we had to read it for English, because it was great to dissect the parts of the book that i didn’t understand when I read it myself. I love books about war, so this fitted perfectly into that genre, with a touch of romance, laughter, and some tears could be shed. my favourite character is Ginny, because she has such a stubbornness about her, and her opinions are very strange for the times that the book are set in. I love the way John falls in love with her, and how he changes from boy to man within only a few short months. I recommend this book to people over the age of 13, because it’s not very gruesome, and by that time you will have gained some knowledge of that time. I rate this book a ★★★★☆ because I think that the plot of the story is very clever yet typical, and I love the characters.

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  110. Madeliene said:

    in yr 9, this was one of our books for english. I only read this book because we had to but once I started reading I couldnt stop. It is my favourite school book that we have read and I think that anybody would enjoy this book because it has a little bit of everything in it.

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  111. For some reason, this is actually a wonderful book. I know that it is a school book, and that, well you know. But i really enjoyed I Had Seen Castles, because it had a little bit of everything in it: romance, violence (which i love ♥♥), and there were even some parts where i actually laughed out loud. For someone who doesn’t read much anymore, I can tell you right now that i was up all night reading this over the summer (i know, i have no life, whatever). My favourite character was John, because of the ways he grew and changed throughout the book, and as he becomes to realise where his immature decisions land him. I rate this book a ★★★☆☆, because although i could not put it down, i didn’t like the ending.

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  112. Claudette said:

    ‘I had seen castles’, is overall a great book. It was set during the time of world war II, and is based on the main character, John who was eager to fight in the war. Through the book we see a huge growth in John. He changes from what used to be an innocent teenager to a mature young man. This book holds an unforgettable meaning and storyline, and is full of romance, understanding, love and even heartbreak. I reccomend the novel to anyone who is interested in learning about war and how people suffered and coped during those times. Anyone above the age of 13-14+ should be able to thouroughly understand and enjoy this book. It is quite brief but may be harder to understand for younger ages.
    Rating: 7/10. 🙂

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  113. Melody said:

    This book really gives you a good perspective of world war II. It shows how love can not last forever, as sad as it is. But this book was still really good, and my favourite character is John. You really see how John comes along, as he grows up and has to go through the war. I really wish Ginny and John would be together in the end though. I would recommend this book because it is a good perspective of the war- the way others think of it. 7/10. 🙂

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  114. This book was about the second world war. This novel even though it is short gives us great aspect of war and the experiences the soldiers go through. It is a love story between Ginny and John Dante and it shows us how love cant survive everything. The story ends sadly, Ginny and John no longer being together, but overall it was a great book

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  115. Mollie said:

    I read this book for english and it was surprisingly really good. Even though it is based around war I love how the add romance into it. My favourite character is John as you go through his journey during the war and how he matures. If I could change the book, I would like to have Ginny and John meet together at the end, as in the book they said they didn’t see each other again. I would defiantly recommend this if you are interested in war and like to see other peoples opinions about it.

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  116. I just read this book for year 9 english and i must say i actually really enjoyed it. I’m not a big fan of the war but the added romance kept me interested. I loved how we saw not only how the war affected John, but also everyone else around him. We witness John’s growth throughout the novel from being a innocent, ‘invincible,’ young boy to a mature, more understanding young man. I loved the story about him and Ginny and how their different opinions didn’t separate them. This book gives you a better understanding of the war and how people suffered. It is sad, but it is very interesting. I would have loved for John to explain more about what he saw and what happened while he was at war. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys learning and reading about the war, with a little romance added. 🙂

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  117. Justine Morgan said:

    I personally loved this book I Had Seen Castles. Usually, I don’t like the books which are part of the English course but this one has become one of my favourite books. I liked it because it was different, told in retrospect of an old man, John Dante, who looks over his life where he experiences love, loss and war ending in regret. Before John turns 18, during the time of war; he finds love. With a beautiful girl; Ginny. John then makes the decision to enlist in war, to sacrifice himself in order to fight for his country however Ginny and John have their differences when it comes to war and because of this the relationship slowly fades and ends. I love the way this novel is written and find it interesting how John shares many stories of his past which all play an impact on his future, who he was and now who he is. Although the only reason I came across this book, being part of the Year 9 Course Outline, I highly recommend this novel for those looking for a different kind of war/love story. I would rate this book a 9/10, as the only thing negative about this novel was how little detail was spent writing about John’s experiences during the war. Overall, this is a very interesting, heart-breaking book, I couldn’t put down!

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  118. Shanae said:

    This is a lovely novel. It has a lot of action and some sad bits in it but has a very cute love story to it. It tells a lot about what the world war II and what it was like. My favourite part of this book is when Ginny and John meet. Ginny gives him hope and love and something to think about and give him hope when he is at war. My favourite character is Ginny she is very inspirational and give John heaps of hope and something to think about when he is at war. I recommend this to anyone who likes to read and learn about war.

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  119. I would definitely recommend the book “I had seen Castles” it is a story about a boy called John who left everything behind him and went to the second world war to fight for his country. It is a sad inspirational story full of romance, action and adventure as you follow through the eyes of John and the way the author describes is incredible as you actually feel like you are apart of the war, it is a book where you can journey on through your imagination and feel as if you are a character in the book. I recommend this book to ages 7+ as there are some sad parts to the twisted novel. I rate this book 10/10 and 5/5 stars, it is an amazing journey you will follow from start to finish.
    You will love this incredible based true story!
    😀

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  120. I enjoyed this book as it is a love story, but at the same time shows tragedies that happen at war and how people deal with them. I don’t like history at all but I liked learning about the history of war throughout a story with so many other things going on. My favourite character is Ginny because she teaches John things that he doesn’t realize himself as he is so caught up in the crowd. Ginny stands up for what she believes in despite the consequences, she is not a follower and at the end of the book, John describes that Ginny “saved him” simply by standing up for what she believed was right. We see how the experiences and horror at war can impact on and effect someone’s life so easily and quickly that it will stick with them forever. John suffered post traumatic stress disorder when throughout the book, the war haunts him for the rest of his life and he finds it hard doing the simplest things (experiencing the sight of death – even his closest friends). My least favourite part of the book is when John loses his chance with Ginny or even to see her again. I cringed every time I read that he had disregarded her letters. I recommend this to adults and teenagers as we are shown through Ginny how different family morals and values shape who you are and impact on you and your decisions for life.

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  121. Jessica Farley said:

    This book really grabbed my attention because there’s a love story but at the same time there is some action and sadness. My favourite part of the book was when John met Ginny because they are a cute couple who have met for the first time. I wish there was a film to it but there isn’t. My least favourite part of the book was when they never then caught up again. This is a book for people who like war, action and romance because there is love sections but sat at the same time.

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  122. I loves this book as soon as i finished reading this because there’s a love story but at the same time some action and sadness. There is no film but i wish there was one because i would watch it. The favourite part was when John sees and meets Ginny for the first time because they were such a cute couple. My favourite character is Ginny because she’s harsh but nice so she gets her point straight to him rather than not saying anything. My definite least favourite was when they never meet each other again after he comes back because my friends and i wanted them to be together at the end, but its not always a happy ending, and thats what i would change. This is a book for people that are into history (war) and romantic books because it’s so nice but yet sad at the same time.

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  123. Renee said:

    I love this book. Most of the school books we have to read for english are boring and take me forever to read, but I read this book in a day. It is sometimes hard to understand what is happening or when he is writing, but I love the story line and they way Cynthia Rylant describes what is happening. I really liked how she told Johns’ story from his point of view, looking back on his life. The book is about WW1 and how he is going to join the army and fight for his country. It is really sad at times, happy, exciting and scary, but it was really enjoyable and I love how Cynthia painted beautiful and heartbreaking pictures in my head of what it was like to live in the harsh and difficult times of World War 1. I think that the book could have been a little longer, as it was only 100 pages and I really wanted to learn more about John’s life, where he was now and if he was ever reunited with his girlfriend from when he was 17, named Ginny.
    If you haven’t read it, READ IT, because you learn a lot about history and the war, and it is a really powerful and quick read that you will really enjoy, especially if you like books about war.

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  124. I really loved this book and would read it again and again.
    I read this book for english and I really enjoyed it. The book was from a male’s point of view which is different to most other books I have read. I really liked the issue of war in this book, and I liked how the author portrayed what war was like. I also liked the romance in this book. There were many emotions shown in this book such as love, happiness, depression, excitement and sadness and these emotions were portrayed excellently through John’s point of view. I recommend this book to everyone.

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  125. i recommend the book “i had seen castles”. at first it took me a while to get into it but i really loved it at the end. it is about a man called john and his life during world war 2. it is romantic and wonderfully written. i could believe that this story is true, that is how well it is written. i recomend it to anyone

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  126. I have really enjoyed reading this novel. at first i did not like it, but then around half way through i began to enjoy it. this book is about john, he has grown up in a good mannered civilized town and he has been given a great childhood. john mets a girl named ginny and she knows so much more than john does at that time. she helps him to grow, but the war takes him away.
    its a really good book, i rate it 8/10 🙂

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  127. I was impressed with this book and was able to enjoy it. I liked the fast-pace of the novel. I also liked that it wasn’t a predictable story with a fairy-tale ending. John struggled with what he believed, found out he had been wrong, and didn’t end up with Ginny happily ever after. It was heartbreaking, but realistic and a good lesson in admitting one’s wrongs. I didn’t like the fact that there were so few characters propelling the story. I would have liked to see more interaction with friends and family, or more from John’s time spent in the army. I also think that the novel was maybe a bit too short. Even though I enjoyed its fast pace, I think that Rylant could have added a little more to the story line. Though i suggest it to others to read.

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  128. I have just read this book for English and I think it is rather interesting.
    It shows the oppsite sex thinks differently and because of that it makes conflict. It’s a bit of a romantic book but at the same time it is about War. John is such a determined and strong bloke, loosing one of his best friends and still keeps on going with life ! The author did a great job writing this book 🙂

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  129. I had seen castles is a really good and interesting book. it is a nice short book and a really easy read. It tells of the hardships of war and what war does to a country, to a town and to the individual. This book is about a man named John who goes off to war and then we are told of the journey he went through. He experienced many things including love, death and killing.
    a really good read i would suggest for year 8 up.

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  130. I have read a book ‘I Had Seen Castles’ and it’s a story about a young man named John and his experiences during WWII. I liked this book because it includes some drama, romance and sadness towards the ending.

    My favourite part of the book was the ending because it’s sad but also a good ending to the book as he doesn’t get to be with his love but it’s a nice way to end it.

    The main and favourite character is John as he is nice, determined and strong person throughout the novel.

    If I could change the book, I would change the ending making that John and Ginny would be together at the end so it wouldn’t as sad and I would feel a lot happier that are together again.

    I would recommend this book to anyone from anyone that are older than 12/13 because if you were younger, some parts would have been inappropriate to read as it’s a bit detailed in some sections, but other than that it’s good cause its short and easy to read.
    HOPE YOU ENJOY!!

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  131. I had seen castles by Cynthia Rylant is a great book about adventure and war. John a 17 year old boy who desperately wants to be recruited for the army in WWII. His has a girlfriend called Ginny who tries to talk him out of it, but john is so determined to go to war and represent Australia. John goes to war but realises that it isn’t like playing with his toy solders. it is much different. he moves to France and becomes a professor.
    i enjoyed this book and i would recommend it to everyone. all years 8 going into year 9 you should get excited because this is a good book to read.

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  132. I had Seen Castles is a book about lots of war i dont really like war that much but i really enjoyed this book, it is about a old man who tells the story of his past, when he was youngerat times john is lost and ginny keeps him on track till he decides to leave. i thint that the author did a great job writing this book and i would highly recomend it

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  133. I Had Seen Castles, by Cynthia Rylant is an amazing story that involves love, adventure and war. John is a 17 year old boy who is desperate to be recruited to the army during WWII. His girlfriend Ginny tries to talk him out of going, but he is determined to represent his country. John goes to the war but soon realises that the real war is nothing at all like the war he used to pretend occurred with his toy soldiers. He grows up fast and experiences things nobody should ever have to see. When he arrives home, John feels left out and cannot become a innocent 17 year old once again. He moves to France and becomes a professor.

    I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well thought of and gave an excellent portrayal of how terrible life was for all the soldiers who fought the war. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in war or adventure.

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  134. When i heard that we had to read this book in year 9, I wasn’t very thrilled about it. So on the holidays i decided to read it to see if it was any good. To my surprise, I couldn’t put it down. It’s about an old man who is reflecting on his past during the war. As a teenage boy, John looses people close to him, and at times, looses himself, he meets Ginny, who keeps him on track for a while, but when he turns 18, it his turn to leave. I can’t imagine what life would have been like then but i know that i would have hated it. John goes through a lot during his time at war and so do people around him. Heartache, sorrow, loss and hurt are experienced all throughout the book. I love this book and everything about it, I suggest that you read it and I give it a 10 out of 10.

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  135. in yr 9, this was one of our books for english. at first i only read the book because my teacher made me. but halfway through the book, i started acctually taking notice of what i was reading. it is still one of the best school texts i have ever read.

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  136. This book was about war and war is a very interesting topic that i am fascinated about. This novel even though it is short gives us great aspect of war and the tough experiences life has to offer when you enlist in the war. It is a very dramatic love story between Ginny and John Dante and it shows us how love cant survive everything. The story ends sadly, Ginny and John no longer being together, but i enjoyed this story very much!

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  137. I have recently read a book named ‘I Had Seen Castles’ by Cynthia Rylant. This book is set during World War II in 1942. This book is about a young boy of only 17 years, John Dante, who lives in America in the town of Pittsburgh. He lives here with his mother, sister and father. Due to the needs of war, Johns father has to go work in California on constructing a US bomb.His mother begins work in an artillary factory, his sister becomes both pregnant and engaged to a man who may never come back and John himself goes to serve his country in this unbelievably real war. While at war John continually wishes he could go back in time to when he had no troubles or worries. He wishes he had listened to his girlfriend Ginny and never got involved. When arriving home from war after all the death and suffering he had seen he didn’t feel as if he belonged. He couldn’t see himself as an innocent 17 year old anymore. He then goes to live in France because he believes America had not suffered. He felt he needed to be with those who had been through the terrible ordeals he had.

    Though this sounds like a very sad and dull book it is actually very good. It taught me a lot on what I was interested in on the topic and history of war. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about war and our history to get further insight in to what life was like back then.

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