The Lost Kingdom
By Darienne Stewart,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Exciting frontier adventure with steampunk fantasy twist.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Educational ValueReal historical figures and events are blended with fantasy (the author provides a helpful note to clarify the historical record). Readers may want to learn more about Leyden jars, Francesco Lana de Terzi's flying boat, and other elements of the plot. The Bartrams are absorbed with botany and discuss the the names and characteristics of several plants. Ben Franklin and a very young George Washington both have cameos, and Billy Bartram and his father are real figures connected with the American Philosophical Society. The myth of Madoc is rooted in the true history of the American frontier.
Billy is ashamed of his father's ugly beliefs but is able to reconcile them as part of the whole of a man. Much of the story's action is propelled by violence, or the threat of violence, but the takeaway message about peace and learning to live together.
Positive Role ModelsAs Billy discovers his father's less admirable traits, he openly challenges him. Both he and Jane defy orders from adults trying to keep them safe. Billy ultimately stands up for what is right and just, and finds a way to embrace his father without ignoring his faults. Andrew is treated very poorly by Billy's dad but still risks his life for the elder Bartram and his companions. Selfish, impulsive individual actions have terrible consequences for the entire expedition.
Violence & ScarinessCharacters face real peril, and some are injured and killed in battle, accidents, and encounters with a bear-wolf. The expedition sets out unarmed and is joined by a translator who brings a gun. They seek Madoc's people as allies in the anticipated war with the French, and are pursued by French soldiers. One character is held captive.
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Parents Need to KnowParents need to know that The Lost Kingdom is a fantasy rooted in American history. The mingling of fact and fiction may confuse young readers, who should read the author's note at the end to be sure they're clear on what really happened. Set during the buildup to the French and Indian War, it confronts racial prejudice and, to a lesser degree, gender stereotyping.
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What's the Story?
Is It Any Good?
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the story's blend of fantasy and historical fact. Does this make history more engaging, or more confusing? How would the story have been different if it relied entirely on fictional characters?
The Lost Kingdom can be described as steampunk, a type of science fiction that blends the old and the new. Have you read any other steampunk stories? What do you think makes steampunk so appealing?
Try the same technique yourself: Write a short fantasy based on an historical event or figure.
- Author: Matthew J. Kirby
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, History, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: August 27, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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