Imagine a story which mixes a little historical fiction (early American Colonization, with Benjamin Franklin and a 20 year old George Washington), a little science fiction, a little fantasy, and a little mythical legend. This is a good description of The Lost Kingdom by Matthew Kirby (Lexile: 620; Interest Level: Grades 3-7).
Billy is very excited when his father finally decides to take him along on an expedition, but he is hardly prepared to discover they will be flying in a air ship! Billy meets the members of his father's Philosophical Society, a group of scientists who are also interested in protecting the land of Pennsylvania. The purpose of the expedition is to discover the Lost Kingdom of the Welsh, which is rumored to be somewhere West of the Ohio Territory. Throughout the journey, Billy must learn to believe his own observations and to stand up for his own beliefs--even when they are at odds with what he has learned before. And, he must show great resilience when they meet with the dangers of the Wild from lightning storms, bear wolves, Native Americans, and the French.
There was a lot about this book that I really wanted to like--and that I hope other readers do like. I admit that I had trouble buying the "science" of how the air ship worked, and that messed with my enjoyment of the rest of the story. Fans of Matthew J. Kirby will probably want to check this one out, and it is a good "steampunk" (imposing futuristic scientific processing, usually with gears and stuff onto an earlier historical time period) style story for middle grade readers. (352 p.)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.