August 27, 2013

A high-flying colonial adventure

By Matthew J. Kirby
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In his latest middle grade novel, Icefall author Matthew J. Kirby brings readers a fast-paced fantasy set in colonial America on the brink of the French and Indian War.

When Billy Bartram’s botanist father asks Billy to join him on his next expedition to the western wilderness of the New World, he is thrilled. Billy idolizes his father and wants nothing more than to use his artistic talents to make his own contributions to the world of science. Little does he know, however, that this is not a plant-finding mission—it’s actually the maiden voyage of the most technologically advanced vehicle on Earth, the de Terzi aeroship. A “vessel of philosophy,” the flying ship was built by the American Philosophical Society, whose members include Benjamin Franklin and Billy’s father. And Billy soon finds out that they’re not just taking the aeroship out for a joyride, they are also evading French spies, attempting to form an alliance with Native Americans and searching for the lost kingdom of the Welsh prince Madoc.

As the group endures battle after battle—facing a traitor among their ranks, a ferocious bear-wolf and the French army—Billy wrestles with his own internal struggle. He comes to realize that his father is as fallible as any other man. He must learn to accept his father’s faults, even if doing so compromises his own newly formed beliefs, or reject him and lose him forever.

This riveting adventure brings to life a remarkably realistic mythical America, and young readers will quickly become invested in the characters, many of whom are based on actual historical figures. The helpful author’s note at the end of the book also provides a great starting point for generating interesting classroom discussions and research projects. Fascinating and fun for kids and adults alike, The Lost Kingdom offers an inventive look at a unique time and place.

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The Lost Kingdom

The Lost Kingdom

By Matthew J. Kirby
ISBN 9780545274265

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