Booktalk for Griffin's Castle

  • Grades: 6–8

Was the old mansion the home Dinah had always dreamed of, or a prison she'd never be able to leave?

Dinah had spent her entire life living in rented or borrowed rooms. But now she and her mother had their own house. It was old and run-down, and not exactly clean, but Dinah was sure it could be their real, forever home. But the house came with her mother's savior, friend, and employer, Gomer Gwynne, who was incredibly rich. It was, in fact, his house, although he had several others, so he didn't really need it, and could let Dinah and her mother live there. 

Dinah met him the the first time the day they moved in, and she knew instantly that he wasn't the knight in shining armor that she'd imagined. He was tall and thin and cold, and it was clear that he only wanted Rosalie, Dinah's mother. Dinah herself was just an inconvenience to be swept away and discarded.  But Dinah was determined to make the house a home. She even named it—Griffin's Castle, because of the broken stone griffin she found in the garden. 

A few days later, Dinah saw the castle for the first time, across the street from the Angel Hotel. It was pale gold, with several towers, and in front of it was a low wall that was covered with animals. Stone animals. Animals of all kinds-apes, pelicans, birds, seals, wolves, hyenas, and many more. At one of the walls, a lioness stared down at the street with arrogant disdain. And as Dinah watched, the lioness turned her head, and Dinah met her glowing golden gaze. Suddenly, she leaped down from the wall and dashed across the street to Dinah, rubbing against her hand, rumbling a deep purr. 

That night, Dinah saw the lioness again from her bedroom window, pacing back and forth in the garden, like a guard or a protector, and felt safe in Griffin's Castle. Then on other nights, other animals came — the bear, and the wolf. And Dinah found out that Gomer was determined to persuade Rosalie to send her away. Even the stone animals that only Dinah could see could not stop him from making his plans. 

Dinah has always felt alone, always searched for a forever place where she'd belong. If only she could find a way to make Gomer go away, so she and Rosalie could stay in their castle together.

This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.


  • Subjects:
    Courage, Bravery, Heroism, Magic and Supernatural