Adventure Kingdom is an abandoned theme park story that enthralls from start to finish. The novel opens with the famous world showman Jerome Baker, creator of Adventure Kingdom, awarding a prize to one lucky winner. After winning, Clark receives a gold coin as his prize. Skip ahead a few years and Adventure Kingdom is now abandoned. Clark decides to visit the abandoned theme park and live-stream his adventure to his adoring online followers. While live-streaming, he runs into Karoline, granddaughter of Jerome Baker, who claims that her family watches over the abandoned theme park and that her grandfather hasn’t been seen in years. Soon, to their surprise, they meet Eddie, a talking monkey in a bellhop uniform. Eddie helps them discover that there is far more to Adventure Kingdom than meets the eye.

The real Adventure Kingdom can only be accessed by using the magic gold coin Clark received as a kid. Little did Clark know that the tiny gold coin he received as a child would be the key to an epic adventure and that the kingdom he and Karoline thought they knew was just the tip of the iceberg. A hidden world vast with robots, talking animals, and theme park attractions that come to life, this is no ordinary amusement park. It is enchanted.  Evil pig-like humanoid creatures, referred to as goons, do the bidding of the Iron King, the mysterious unseen ruler (the Wizard of Oz, if you will) of Adventure Kingdom. The Iron King’s goal is to gain possession of the magic coin. The goons hunt down Clark and Karoline for the elusive coin. For how scary the goons are, we meet creatures that are equally as adorable. Readers are introduced to the ringalings which are cute, pom-pom-like creatures that help Karoline and Clark use the train system to travel around the park. These cute creatures are needed to alleviate the dark tone of the novel.

The colorist, Sonia Muruno, uses dark gray and blue shades, reflecting the darkness of the atmosphere. Together with illustrator Pedro Rodriguez, they truly capture the mysterious mood of the amusement park. Detailed shading gives each of the characters definition and their own unique personalities. The expressive illustrations capture emotions, as well as action sequences, enormously well. As a nice touch, the novel includes inserts of different rides and attractions in Adventure Kingdom. The illustrations have a movie poster-like quality that is particularly enticing. The reader truly feels like they are viewing a real amusement park poster.

This was a solid series debut. Adventure Kingdom will appeal to children that enjoy the fantasy genre. There are enough twists and interesting characters to keep even the most reluctant reader engaged. Fans of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and the Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum will enjoy the whimsical and magical setting. The small cast of characters make this an accessible read. Kids will eat up this book and look forward to the sequel.

Adventure Kingdom Vol. 1
By Steve Foxe
Art by Pedro Rodriguez
Andrews McNeel, 2021
ISBN: 9781524869823

Publisher Age Rating: 8-12

NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)

  • Meghan

    | she/her Children's Librarian

    Reviewer

    Meghan Fangmann is a Children's Librarian at Syosset Library in Long Island, New York. She runs graphic novel book clubs and storytimes at her library. In her spare time, she enjoys reading the latest Manga, Anime, and graphic novel titles.

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