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"Disney at Dawn" continues the adventures of the Kingdom Keepers

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"Disney at Dawn" continues the adventures of the Kingdom Keepers

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When we left Finn, Willa, Philby, Charlene and Terry at the end of "The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark" (Disney Editions, September 2005), these five plucky teenagers had just defeated the Overtakers -- that mysterious group of characters led by Maleficent herself who were out to destroy WDW's Magic Kingdom.

Copyright 2005 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

But as "Kingdom Keepers II: Disney Before Dawn" gets underway ... Well, you just can't keep a super powerful Disney villain like Maleficent down for long. This evil fairy busts out of her magical holding cell (Which -- this time around -- is located in the highest tower of Cinderella Castle) and immediately begins scheming as to how she can bring about Disney World's downfall.

Of course, as soon as the Kingdom Keepers learn that Maleficent is once again on the loose, they're determined to do what they can to recapture from "Sleeping Beauty" 's villainess. But this situation suddenly gets complicated when Finn & his friends discovered that their pal, Jezebel, has disappeared while visiting the Magic Kingdom.

Copyright 2008 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

The evidence all seems to point to Jezebel being snatched by Maleficent and her cronies. With this pretty teenager then being hidden away somewhere in the 500 acre parcel that makes up Disney's Animal Kingdom.

So once again, it's up to the Kingdom Keepers to try & solve this case. As they split up and search for clues out on the savanna of Kilimanjaro Safaris, along the twisty trails of the Maharajah Jungle Trek, even behind-the-scenes at Conservation Station's veterinary center.

Author Ridley Pearson at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Copyright 2008 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

Okay, I know. "Kingdom Keepers II: Disney Before Dawn" ain't exactly great literature. And Disney history sticklers are sure to get ticked off with some of the stuff that author Ridley Pearson plays fast-and-loose with (i.e. Walt had a set of rooms that he used inside of Cinderella Castle? Really? ).

But let's remember that this is an adventure book for young adults, folks. So you kind of have to grade on a curve here. Recall what it was like to not be so jaded & judgmental when it came to the stuff that you read.

Copyright 2008 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

And when you embrace that kind of mindset, "Kingdom Keepers II: Disney Before Dawn" can be a lot of fun. I mean, who among us hasn't wondered what it might be like to slide down the zipline that Tinker Bell uses every night when she flies over the Hub at the end of "Wishes" ? Or wanted to wander around inside of "Expedition Everest" to get a closer look at that Yeti. Who -- according to Mr. Pearson -- may be a lot more than he appears to be.

Copyright 2008 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

The story ends happily ... sort of. With one friend rescued while another get spirited away by the evil fairy and her minions. And as "Kingdom Keepers II" draws to a close, it's clear that Ridley intends on extending this series. With the next set of adventures most likely taking place at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

So if you're looking for a breezy read for the 11-to-14 year-old Disney theme park fan in your family (You know the one that I'm talking about. That guy or girl who has wondered aloud what it might be like to be trapped inside of "Dinosaur" when all of those prehistoric animatronics suddenly came to life and started attacking your Time Rover), then you should definitely get them a copy of this 377 page hardcover.

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  • It is hard for me to believe that this guy is the same man who, with ave Barry, writes the amazing STARCATCHER series - another great adventure series for the same age demographic reading audience.  Even though Pearson admits to assistance from Barry with this book, it is pretty much dully written and weakly executed.  I think that Barry is probably the real story weaving talent of the two...based upon comparisons of the two works.

    The first book in the KINGDOM KEEPERS series, AFTER DARK, is actually the better of the two in the series so far...at least, up until it ends and the believablity goes out the window when the author seems to state, "well, I'd better end this book now and so this is the quickest way out of it."  

    This second book is not really a story that stands on its own; the third book in the series is going to be much needed. I had this same problem when watching BACK TO THE FUTURE 2 - it was a weaker story than the first installment and really only works when attached to the third and final film.  This is, of course, not always the rule in trilogys, but, something that does tend to happen on more than limited occasion.  

    What really amazes me about this series is that a lot of the concepts in it were written several years before the first publication on an internet chat group.  Within the R.A.D.P. (Rec. Arts. Disney Parks) group, there is a sub-group known as Trimobia.  This sub-group was a home for the amazingly creative writers and individuals of RADP and branched from just idle joking banter about their daily lives as Disney Characters in their realm of Trimobia and the various WDW parks (There was a Maleficient, an Iago, a Ping, a Queen of Adventureland....you get the idea) all who interacted with the rides and the animatronics of those rides - siad animatronics being able to move about and talk and reason on their own as actual beings...up to evil dolls bent upon attacking people in Small World....things that transpired in the two Pearson books), and, beyond the idle anter and one-liners up to full on adventure serial epic stories full of wit, laughter, and amazing situations.


    In the second book of the KINGDOM KEEPERS we see Malificent actually as a secondary power of evil under an even larger power of evil created by the Disney Studios.  This, too, refleclts back to the writings found in the Trimobian Adventure series - long before Pearson attacked writing this series.  The ultimate evil in Pearson's series is referred to as "Lord _____".  Within the confines of the Trimobian writings, the authoress who was portraying Maleficent there also had set up this same exact relationship of her role with this ultimate evil, even to the royal titling of how to address that power of darkness.

    It seems odd to me that so much similarity between the internet writings of so many talented individuals winds up in the penmanship craft of Pearson.  I'm not trying to implicate that he used this private sector base of stories and adventures from individuals in a chat group as his basis for these stories.  The point is, nonetheless, that a lot of these ideas and concepts and such were already available for harvesting in a public access forum years before Pearson went to print. It is possible for a writer to take these ideas as inspiration and mold them into a book for public consumption.  I mean, stories appear around us every day in what we read, see, experience...people we know, whatever...so, the source of something that is intellectual property is becoming (with more consistent rapidity thanks to the Internet) fairly much moot.  I just find it interesting that the similarities do exist between Pearson's KINGDOM KEEPER series and the Trimobian writers who had once brilliantly penned their stories.


    In the confines of this second book, the wizened guide character of the old Imagineer tells the kids that this adventure can actually travel to the core of the Disney Magic...which is Disneyland.  I am wondering if the third book will follow this MacGuffinand take the audience to California for the next installment, or, if this is to establish a future book in the series.  Either way, I have bought into this series and will continue reading it and hoping that the third book shows an upswing in style and presentation.

    Disney has optioned both of Pearson's works, KINGDOM KEEPERS and STARCATCHERS as film options.  I am hoping that STARCATCHERS (a Peter Pan based story series) wins out.  In fact, I wish it would have been done over the Tinkerbell franchise currently in production.  Oh, well, the Schwartz must live in Pixie Hollow. ;)

  • Hmmm...makes you wonder whether Ridley Pearson was one of the old RADP folks, and what his relationship is/was with the Trimobian writers...

    Sue in Texas

  • I tried to read the first Kingdom book. It bored me silly, and I never finished it.

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