The Space Race of 1869
The Space Race of 1869

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Series: Castle in the Stars Vol. 1   

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Annotation: Seeking answers to the disappearance of their wife and mother in a hot-air balloon accident, a father and son are drawn into dangerous intrigue by a young king who dreams of flying the skies in a ship powered by the mysterious element known as aether.
Catalog Number: #151776
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Graphic Novel Graphic Novel
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 60 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-626-72493-8 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99817-5
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-626-72493-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99817-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016961590
Dimensions: 29 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
What do you get when you mix steampunk, historic scientific theories, Jules Verne-style adventure, and King Ludwig II of Bavaria? A rollicking good time, that's what. In 1869, a year after Seraphin's mother disappeared in her hot air balloon while in search of the mysterious energy source called Aether, an unsigned letter arrives in which the writer claims to have found her logbook. On their way to Bavaria to claim it, Seraphin and his father become entangled with Prussian spies who are also on the hunt for the logbook, hoping that the secret of Aether will help them overthrow King Ludwig II and take over the world. The romantic setting of the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle is the perfect backdrop for this steampunk adventure story, and the author and artists use both interior and exterior views to good advantage. Done in soft watercolors, the illustrations are gorgeously detailed and alive with color and motion, giving the whole book a cinematic feel. This series starter ends on an extreme cliffhanger, so readers will be eager for the sequel.
Publishers Weekly
Aether-the theoretical fifth element conceived of by Greek philosophers-is pursued by scientists and heads of state alike in this alternate historical adventure from this French graphic novelist. One year after Seraphin Dulac-s mother dies in a ballooning accident as she attempted to confirm the existence of aether, the boy and his father receive a mysterious note, summoning them to Bavaria from their home in northern France. Soon they are working for none other than the Bavarian king to create an aethership, but spies, sabotage, and threats of Prussian aggression threaten the project, as well as their lives. Despite unfolding over just three chapters, Alice-s story is dense with dialogue, information, and visual detail, playing fast and loose with science and history as Seraphin joins forces with a brave maid and a know-it-all adventurer to safeguard the project. Lushly painted scenes, an abundance of banter among the young heroes, and plenty of action and gadgetry make for an engrossing tale of discovery and betrayal, which builds to a cliffhanger ending to set up the second and final volume. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Some people will love this fanciful tale of a 19th-century space race so much they never finish it. This graphic novel is filled with distractions. Every scene has a new detail to focus on, usually off in the corner of a panel: a watercraft decorated with golden cherubs or an airship shaped like a swan. When one character holds up a book of blueprints (for a craft that travels "through aether"), readers may be tempted to crane their necks to get a better view of the tiny drawings. The artwork, which combines loose pencil outlines with elaborate watercolors, is that spectacular. Many panels could be framed as paintings, and it would be easy to ignore the text and just stare at the pictures of cloud banks. But that would be a mistake, as it's a terrific adventure story with disguises and air chases and a plot against Bavarian royalty in the late 1800s. The story is full of digressions, though, and the digressions are the best part, as when the main character (a schoolboy named Seraphin) explains why there must be dinosaurs on Venus. In another, the royal architect shows off the orchestra pit on an airship. This is bad science and bad history (and surely not everyone in Bavaria was white), which makes it fantastic steampunk. Like the best steampunk, this story is one excellent distraction after another, with enough blueprints to hold people's attention while they're waiting for Book 2. (Graphic steampunk. 10-16)
Word Count: 7,551
Reading Level: 3.8
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.8 / points: 1.0 / quiz: 190817 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:2.4 / points:4.0 / quiz:Q72452
Lexile: GN420L

What if man journeyed into space in 1869, not 1969? In search of the mysterious element known as aether, Claire Dulac flew her hot-air balloon toward the edge of our stratosphere--and never returned. One year after her disappearance, her son and husband are delivered a tantalizing clue: a letter from an unknown sender who claims to have Claire's lost logbook. The letter summons them to a Bavarian castle, where an ambitious young king dreams of flying the skies in a ship powered by aether. But within the castle walls, danger lurks--there are those who would stop at nothing to conquer the stars.

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