Wednesday, August 9, 2017

CASTLE IN THE STARS: The Space Race of 1869 by Alex Alice

"Gory Gods of Gaul!" It's a steampunk alternate history involving Mad King Ludwig, King of Bavaria, some nasty Prussians (including one with a sword hidden inside his cane), a boy named Seraphin and his father, plus two Bavarian servants. In this book, the characters are concerned with the notion of aether, as proposed by the Ancient Greeks, and seek to make their way into space using hydrogen balloons and "aether engines". Those balloons are used to ascend nearly into space, with suggestions being made of future space travel.

The format of this graphic novel is an oversized hardcover picture book measuring 8-3/4" x 11-1/2". It contains 62 oversized pages in full color throughout. It is Book One of what will be a two-part series (that was originally released in France in 2014 in newspaper format). The French text and illustrations were by Alex Alice; the English translation of the text contained in the new First Second edition is by Anne and Owen Smith.

The full-color watercolor illustrations are gorgeous, the story is riveting and will have you on the edge of the seat and, I am sorry to say, will leave you rather desperate for the next volume. Which is not yet available. (For that matter, this volume isn't going to be available until next month!) But I promise you will enjoy it and want to read more.

As with most of the First Second/Macmillan offerings, you can "page through" a few pages of the text online. Here's the link for that. This one works at levels from upper elementary through adult, and would be a great addition to elementary, middle school, and high school libraries as well as public libraries. Perfect for folks interested in history, alternate history, steampunk, space exploration, science, and adventure.

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