Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kingdom Keepers

The Kingdom Keepers
by Ridley Pearson

About the book: In this fantastical thriller, five young teens tapped as models for theme park “guides” find themselves pitted against Disney villains and witches that threaten both the future of Walt Disney World and the stability of the world outside its walls.
Using a cutting-edge technology called DHI—which stands for both Disney Host Interactive and Daylight Hologram Imagining—Finn Whitman, an Orlando teen, and four other kids are transformed into hologram projections that guide guests through the park. The new technology turns out, however to have unexpected effects that are both thrilling and scary. Soon Finn finds himself transported in his DHI form into the Magic Kingdom at night. Is it real? Is he dreaming?
Finn’s confusion only increases when he encounters Wayne, an elderly Imagineer who tells him that the park is in grave danger. Led by the scheming witch, Maleficent, a mysterious group of characters called the Overtakers is plotting to destroy Disney’s beloved realm, and maybe more.
This gripping high-tech tale will thrill every kid who has ever dreamed of sneaking into Walt Disney World after hours and wondered what happens at night when the park is closed.

About the author:
Ridley Pearson is the best-selling author of twenty suspense thrillers for adults, including The Body of David Hayes; Beyond Recognition; No Witness; The First Victim; Middle of Nowhere; and his most recent, Cut and Run. With humor columnist Dave Barry he is the coauthor of the best-selling Peter and the STarcatchers (2004), a prequel to Peter Pan, his first book for Disney Editions and the first volume of a projected trilogy. Ridley plays bass guitar with the Rockbottom Remainders, a literary all-star garage band, and lives near St. Louis with his wife and two daughters.

Have you ever been somewhere like a school, theater, or park after hours? What was it like? Predict what you think might happen in the Magic Kingdom after dark.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Who is Finn Whitman? Why do you think he was chosen to lead the DHI team? How does he learn about his mission?
  2. What exactly is a DHI?  Would you be willing to become one or not? Why? Who are the other DHI’s?
  3. How does Amanda help Finn with his plan? Why are they pursued through the park? Do you think Amanda is trustworthy or not? What clues do you have to support your opinion? In the end, what do you learn about Amanda?
  4. What does Finn discover is going on inside the Magic Kingdom after hours? Why are they more dangerous than they seem? How does he learn about their motives? What does Finn learn about himself as he interacts with the various Disney characters?
  5. Describe the hidden Disney that only employees and Walt Disney himself know about. What is the most interesting fact that you learned about the park and its creator as you read the novel?
  6. What fable is important to finding the hidden clues inside the Magic Kingdom? What do they use to find them?  Why is perspective such an important clue? Have you ever changed your own perception (or view) of a difficult problem of your own? How did it help?
  7. Describe in one sentence each what happens during the small world, log flume and Mission Impossible, and Winnie the Pooh rides. What do the DHI’s discover about their own abilities and limitations?
  8. How do they finally solve the riddle? What is the secret message? What do you think it means?
  9. Who would you consider the nemesis or antagonist of this story? Why? What evil events do they perpetrate against the kids and others? Who is the most despicable? Why? Which ones would you least like to meet in a dark alley?
  10. Are the kids able to defeat Maleficent and the overtakers? How, exactly, do they pull it off? In the end what do they discover about the pen? Do you think their will be more adventures with the DHI’s? Why or why not?

Reading Prediction chart: As you read the novel write a brief summary of the major events in the left hand column and then a prediction for what might happen next in the right. Remember: predictions are often WRONG- after all, this is why we read- to find out if what we THINK might happen actually does!



Design your own amusement park! Use technology or old fashioned cardboard or clay- the choice is yours. In a designer’s statement, explain your themes and amusements.

Study the art of M.C. Escher. Create a piece of art inspired by both the artist and the novel.
Plan your dream vacation to Disney’s Magic Kingdom or other location. Figure out how much it would cost your family for travel, accommodations, food and amusements for a weeklong adventure.
Research what the future might bring in a variety of technologies including travel, communication, and the environment. Present what you learn by creating a poster, pamphlet or PowerPoint presentation.
Kingdom Keepers II
Disney at Dawn
by Ridley Pearson

About the book:
It’s supposed to be a happy day at the Magic Kingdom—the teenage holographic hosts have returned. But things go very wrong when a sudden lightening storm disrupts the celebration, and Amanda’s mysterious sister, Jez, disappears. The only clue is the sighting of a wild monkey in the Magic Kingdom during the storm. The mystery deepens when Finn is contacted by Wayne, an old man he hasn’t hear from in months. Wayne tells Finn that there’s trouble at the Animal Kingdom: the evil Overtakers have gained control of one of the computer servers that will be used to operate Daylight Holographic Imaging there. That means if any of the holographic hosts fall asleep, they will go into comas—permanently.  Filled with action and brimming with the same meticulous detail as The Kingdom Keepers: Disney after Dark, this second book in the series—Disney at Dawn—is the result of hands-on research behind the scenes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Younger and older readers alike will get a glimpse into a second Disney kingdom. The wild rides have only just begun and the clock is ticking. How long can the teens keep themselves awake in their quest to find their friend—and what happens if they fail?

Brainstorm a list of the most evil villains you’ve ever read or seen through books, movies or television. What qualities make a great villain?
Discussion Guide:
  1. Who are the main characters in this story? How can you tell a main character from a minor one? Who are the enemies of these main characters? What is their evil plan?
  2. What is the quest of our young heroes? What special skills does Finn have? Can he control it? What special skills or powers would you like to have?
  3. Describe what happened at the castle and at Escher’s Keep. What does this mean for the kids? Who has reappeared?
  4. What do the kids use to communicate during their plan? How do you and your best friends communicate? How is this different from the way your parents grew up? Predict what you think the technology will be like by the time you have kids.
  5. What does Finn learn about Amanda and Jez? How have the girls been surviving? Can you imagine living alone without all the comforts of home? What do you think would be the hardest part? Why are these two sisters different?
  6. Why are the kids certain that Jez’s dreams and drawings are important clues to the mission? How do they help them discover the pieces of the puzzle? How else does Jez communicate clues to them? What songs, like Jez, do you abuse by overplaying?
  7. What is Maleficent using the new setting of Animal Kingdom to her advantage? What does she need to rule completely?
  8. Why must the kids stay awake? What is the longest you’ve ever stayed awake? How does it complicate their mission? Who succumbs? What happens because they fell asleep?
  9. How do the kids disguise themselves inside the park? How does this work to their advantage? Summarize how the kids cooperate to cover all angles of the park.
  10. List three of the action scenes and then analyze what made the writing so effective. How does Pearson keep the action moving forward? How does he create tension for the reader? Use what you’ve learned in your own next piece of writing.
  11. Explain why both architecture and animals hamper Jez’s recovery. How do they overcome these obstacles? How are each of their skills used to the best advantage? List your most impressive skills.
  12. Would you want to be a DHI at the Disney parks or not? Compare and contrast the benefits to the dangers and disadvantages.
Language Arts:
Create a multi-media presentation about the Kingdom Keepers series. Create interest and excitement for kids who have not yet discovered the series but be sure not to give too much away!

Good readers think about how events relate to each other as they read. Create a flow chart or diagram that shows the cause and effect relationship between major events/incidents in the story.
Example: Cause: Jez warns the kids that something bad is going to happen at the castle.
Effect: Finn and other DHI’s explore the castle and find Maleficient.

In small groups create a mural-sized illustration of your favorite scene from the novel using bulletin board rolled paper. Tape the mural together (in sequential order, of course) as each section is complete to create a dynamic hallway display.

Jez abuses the song “Under the Sea” on her ipod. Create a list of songs that you would use as background music for the movie adaptation of this story. Also, create a list of songs you abuse by listening to them over and over again. Discuss your lists!