cover image The Secret of the Lost Kingdom

The Secret of the Lost Kingdom

Michael Bolton, David Jermann. Hyperion Books, $15.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0286-9

Pop singer Bolton tries his hand at storytelling in this loquacious, flowery picture book about regal honor and justice. A modern-day field trip to an ancient castle takes a magical turn when students Michael and Jennifer split from their class and receive a private tour from the mysterious ""keeper of the castle."" He tells the children of the castle's early inhabitant, Prince Marlon, a heroic and kindhearted royal who fought for the rights of his subjects and married a simple farm girl. Bolton's tale contains a cast of intriguing characters--including a believable villain--and the kinds of ironic plot twists readers have come to expect from stories of chivalry. Beginning readers may have trouble deciphering lengthy sentences and challenging names, but the book has a pleasant bedtime story tone that makes it a good bet for family read-alouds. In his picture book debut, Jermann applies his brushstrokes to detailed oil paintings with an unusual palette. Many of the portraits are rendered with a combination of colors that have a dusty, antique look, evoking the story's era. Less effective are paintings overpowered by syrupy reds, greens or pinks. Full-page dramatic scenes of battles on horseback oppose text pages framed in intricate borders. Though fans of chivalry will find nothing new here, Bolton contributes a capable addition to the genre. A 5"" x 9"" glossy of Bolton decorates the back of the jacket. All ages. (Oct.)