Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Kingdom Keepers Inheritance: The Shimmer by Ridley Pearson

With their friend missing and their parents acting strangely, the Kingdom Kids discover they are in possession of unusual powers as they forge a bond to rescue their friend and uncover the truth about how real magic has entered their lives.


February 21, 2023

In the near future, in the Epcot of Walt Disney’s imagination, sixty thousand people live in a CommuniTree surrounding the forward-looking Walt Disney World theme park. Five unique families are among the residents―and some of the parents were once known as the Kingdom Keepers. Their identities are carefully guarded in order to raise their children without special treatment, most of the Kingdom Keepers work for the Walt Disney Company, and have settled into “ordinary” and rewarding lives.

When a messenger carrying a secret communication coincides with both a solar eclipse and Eli Whitman’s thirteenth birthday―a few “ordinary” kids are thrust into a battle to save Epcot and find their friend who has mysteriously disappeared. With their friend missing and their parents acting strangely, the Kingdom Kids discover they are in possession of unusual powers as they forge a bond to rescue their friend and uncover the truth about how real magic has entered their lives.


Eli Whitman lifted his hands and screamed.  He was sitting in the front row of Animal Kingdom’s  roller coaster, Expedition Everest. The thing was older  than his parents! He could imagine the views from  outside. Giraffe and hippos in the Kilimanjaro Safari.  White seagulls perched atop the Tree of Life.  

His friends cried out as the roller coaster dove.  Parents weren’t on the ride. Fine with him. At twelve and  thirteen, he and his friends didn’t need hand-holding.  

As the roller coaster stopped, Eli had a brief view  of Pandora, an attraction more than twenty years old.  The Siberian Forest Climb and the Great Barrier Reach  had opened two years earlier. That had been Animal  Kingdom’s fortieth birthday. Other kids might have  gone there for a birthday party. Not Eli. Expedition  Everest was his favorite. And this was, after all, his  birthday party. 

Animal Kingdom was super crowded. Tomorrow  there would be a total solar eclipse. The Disney Parks  had special shows planned, including a Star Wars Sky  Search.  

When the roller coaster entered the double loop,  Marie-Claire grabbed Eli’s hand. She squeezed and  held on tight. That made it the best day-before-his birthday ever.  

When he got off the ride, he stopped at the show  wall to see a video of himself on the ride. The other  kids looked strong or pretty. He saw himself as boring looking. Freckles. Brown hair. Darkish skin. (His mother  was part Asian; his father, Caucasian.) In the video, the  wind pushed back his hair. It gave away a secret: He kept  his hair long to hide his gigantic ears. 

The July air felt hot and damp. He was sweaty.  Jungle trees and vines lined the path back toward the  Monkey Temple. It was a place Eli liked to stop and  watch for a while. He and Marie-Claire and a few other  friends did just that. The sound of laughter filled the air.  Happy birthday, he thought. 

The group explored the rock canyons leading to  Harambe. His parents had once tried to explain what  the park had looked like back in 2020. But it was impossible for Eli not to see the solar holograms of the Disney  Cast Members—Solograms—moving around throughout the park. He knew the hover carts were new. And so  were attractions like Loch Ness Nessie, that he counted  as favorites.  

He knew he was lucky. Not everyone got to live in a place like Epcot’s CommuniTree. He had things others  didn’t. But he also wanted to travel more, like his parents  did. They were currently riding the Hyperloop from  Atlanta to Los Angeles. Instead of being with them, he  was in the park. He had asked them if he could come  along. His parents listened; they just didn’t seem to ever  hear him.  

Maybe things would change tomorrow. Thirteen  had to be better than twelve. 

“Did you know that people in India don’t eat during a solar eclipse because they think any food would  be poisoned?” At ten, Lily Perkins was too young to  hang out with sixth- and seventh-graders. There were  unwritten rules about such things. But she was funny  and smart, and she always made him feel better. To Eli,  that was the definition of a good friend, and so he’d  invited her. 

“I did not,” he admitted. 

“In some cultures, pregnant women stay indoors  during an eclipse.” Her eye color matched her straight  hair perfectly—brown with flecks of highlights in both.  Her hair was very fine, and hung past her shoulders. She  smiled for Eli and giggled, sounding like a complaining  squirrel.  

“Because?” he asked. 

“Superstition.” Lily wore a light blue V-neck pullover, dandelion yellow baggy cropped pants, and aquamarine  retro-Moana flip-flops.  

Eli’s parents listened to extremely old music, including a singer named Stevie Wonder who’d written a  pretty good song, “Superstition.” The music started  swirling in Eli’s head and he felt his foot tapping. Ver-y  super-stitious. He loved music. Any kind. But, he didn’t  tell his friends that. So-called friends judged you on all  kinds of stuff that shouldn’t matter. He’d learned that  the hard way. 

“It’s not all scary,” Lily said. Thing about Lily: If you  let her get going, it was hard to stop her.  

“Is that so?” An only child, Eli was really nice to  other kids, especially younger girls, whom he saw as little  sisters. Like little Lily. Lily was the best, funniest, most  unexpected creature on the planet. 

“In Italy, some people think that flowers planted  during a solar eclipse turn out more colorful than others.  So, what do you think it means when a boy’s thirteenth  birthday is on the solar eclipse?” 

“I dunno,” Eli said nervously. 

“Maybe you’ll grow a beard or something.” “Doubtful.” Eli longed for the day he would start  shaving.  

“Maybe you’ll start to age faster than everyone else  your age.”

“Now you’re just being creepy,” Eli said.  

“Or find a princess.” She giggled. “Other than  Marie-Claire.” 

Eli swung to hit her playfully, but Lily saw and  dodged the hit. Marie-Claire, who was French like her  single mom, had transitioned from being Eli’s science  class lab partner, to friend, to someone he now regularly texted with. The more they texted, the more Eli  had trouble not texting her back. It was becoming a  habit. If someone like little Lily had noticed, he had big  problems.  

“You know what I think?” Lily said. 

“I’m not sure I want to.” Eli hoped she would stop. “I think you only wanted to ride Expedition Everest  so Marie-Claire would freak out and hold your hand in  the dark.” 

“Are you a mind reader?” 

“Not exactly,” Lily said sheepishly. “Kinda close,  though.” She giggled nervously.  

Something about the way she said that interested  Eli. He made a mental note to ask her more later. “Keep that to yourself, will you, Lily?” 

She ran off, skipping like a six-year-old. Eli smiled.

About the author:
Ridley Pearson, the first American to be awarded the Raymond Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction at Wadham College, Oxford University, is the bestselling author of over 50 novels including, Peter And the Starcatchers (co-written with Dave Barry), The Kingdom Keepers series, and two dozen crime novels including: Probable Cause, Beyond Recognition, Killer Weekend, The Risk Agent, and The Red Room. His novel The Diary Of Ellen Rimbauer, a prequel to a Stephen King miniseries, was a New York Times #1 bestseller, and a ABC TV movie (2009).

Peter and the Starcatcher, a stage play adaptation written by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys) won 5 Tonys for its Broadway run and is currently touring the US.

Ridley is a founding member of, and plays bass guitar in, the all-author rock band, The Rockbottom Remainders (www.rockbottomremainders.com), with Dave Barry, Stephen King, Scott Turow, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount Jr., James McBride, Amy Tan and Greg Iles. The band has raised over 2.5 million dollars for charities.

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