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Kingston and the Magician's Lost and Found

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Magic has all but disappeared in Brooklyn, but one tenacious young magician is determined to bring it back in this exciting middle grade mystery.

Twelve-year-old Kingston has just moved from the suburbs back to Echo City, Brooklyn—the last place his father was seen alive. Kingston's father was King Preston, one of the world's greatest magicians. Until one trick went wrong and he disappeared. Now that Kingston is back in Echo City, he's determined to find his father.

Somehow, though, when his father disappeared, he took all of Echo City's magic with him. Now Echo City—a ghost of its past—is living up to its name. With no magic left, the magicians have packed up and left town and those who've stayed behind don't look too kindly on any who reminds them of what they once had.

When Kingston finds a magic box his father left behind as a clue, Kingston knows there's more to his father's disappearance than meets the eye. He'll have to keep it a secret—that is, until he can restore magic to Echo City. With his cousin Veronica and childhood friend Too Tall Eddie, Kingston works to solve the clues, but one wrong move and his father might not be the only one who goes missing.

ISBN-13: 9780525516880

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Publication Date: 05-17-2022

Pages: 304

Product Dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)

Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

Rucker Moses is the pen name of Craig S. Phillips and Harold Hayes Jr. They both hail from Atlanta and started telling stories together at the University of Georgia. Together, they've been nominated for three Emmys for writing in a children's program and have written for TV shows based on books by R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike. They also make virtual reality experiences and own a production company named SunnyBoy Entertainment. In no particular order, their favorite things to write about are ninjas, magic, space, and abandoned amusement parks. When not doing all that, they are hanging with their wonderful families at home in Los Angeles. Theo Gangi is a novelist and writing teacher based in Brooklyn. He's written several acclaimed novels and short stories, and he's worked on shows for Netflix. He writes far-out adventures that happen right next door. He directs the MFA program at St. Francis College and lives with his wife, young son, and their dog. Kingston and the Magician's Lost and Found is his first book for young readers.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

My father was famous. He was the greatest magician in Echo City. And he made himself disappear.

Disappear. Like, here one second, gone the next.

Not disappear like he went out for milk and eggs and never came back, like the bullies at school used to say. He wasn't abducted by aliens or kidnapped by the mob. He doesn't have another family and he isn't dead.

He's alive. I know he is. No one else thinks so, but I know.

Ma says not to sit around waiting for him. That I'll just be disappointed. She's afraid I'll be like him, that I'll get lost in magic and she'll lose me like she lost him. I promise her I won't get lost. Sometimes she believes me.

Sometimes I mean it.

It’s been four years, six months, and seven days since he’s been gone. I was eight years old then. That’s also four years and five months since we left Brooklyn, and today we’re moving back to Pop’s old home in Echo City, Brooklyn. Ma says the James Family Brownstone, aka 52 Ricks Street, will go back to the bank if we don’t. She taught me a nasty-sounding word, foreclosure. It’s like closed but times four and with a ure at the end in case you didn’t know that the word meant business. Ma says it means banks take your house when you run out of money. So now she wants to open up a café, which is her lifelong dream.

But she’s still nervous about moving. She doesn’t say so, only I can tell by how she’s driving. Inching along the hot summer streets and peeking at signs like a cat. Sighing at every red light. Squinting out the window at the street corners and row houses. She keeps tapping angry fingers at Google Maps on her phone screen. She thinks she knows Brooklyn, but it’s been a while.

“I don’t understand,” she says, frustrated. “This thing has us jumping all over the streets.”

Ma pulls the car over and flicks on the hazard lights of our rental SUV. She takes the phone off the dash mount, fingernails clicking on the screen as she stares with photon-beam focus. Mom believes in the power of apps and phone maps to get us places. The one thing she isn’t doing is looking out the windows. But that’s okay, I’m looking out for the both of us.

“How did our blue dot just land us in the middle of the Brooklyn Navy Yard?” she says. “Does it look like we’re in the middle of the Navy Yard? Oh, wait now . . . now we’re in the East River? We are literally in a body of water?”

I’m waiting for the car horns to start blaring at us, like they usually do when we stop and check directions, but there’s no one around at all. It’s like we found this one abandoned block in Brooklyn. I see a stop sign. There’s a word scribbled underneath.


It makes me smile. Brooklyn and magic have always gone together for me. When we lived here with Dad, our lives were full of magic. Tricks, shows, and convos about the all-time great magicians filled our home back then. Before Dad disappeared and we left Brooklyn, and magic along with it. And Ma got so sick and tired of magic she didn’t even want to hear about it anymore.

Then I realize the word magik is under the stop sign for a reason. It’s a message.


“Well. Would you look at that,” says Mom.

“Yeah. I know. ‘Stop magik’ sounds like good advice to you, right?”

Mom looks at me like she has no idea what I’m talking about.

“No—well, sure, I guess, but King, look—”

Before she can point her finger, I see it. Looming right there above us like an elephant on the sidewalk.

The Mercury Theater.

We’re quiet for a moment. I’m not sure how Mom will react.

I don’t even know how I’m reacting, honestly.

Most times, when you visit a place you haven’t seen in years, it seems small. Not the Mercury. And for sure I’ve grown a ton since I was here. But somehow the old theater is as huge as it ever was. It’s like the dinosaur of buildings. Bigger than everything around it, and from another time.

Mom takes a deep breath and I hear her tremble on the exhale. My heartbeat is jacked up quick like I just hit the fast-forward button a couple times. I remember how sad she was, back when Pop never came home that first night. When she filled out the missing person report. How we held each other and cried.

I wonder if she’s going to hit the gas and drive off, like she did the day we left Echo City. Like when she stashed all the pictures of Pops and his magic shows in a box down in the basement. I wonder if she’s going to make a comment that cuts about magic and fools and leaving things in the past.

But she doesn’t do any of that.

She opens her door and just stands there in the heat. Taking it in.

I hop out of the car and stand next to her. She doesn’t look away from the theater, but her hand finds my shoulder.

There’s a hole in the dome of the theater, with pigeons flying in and out. There are carvings of vines and grapes all up and down the columns and in patterns surrounding the windows, elaborate, with carved birds here and there fluttering at the stems. There are two gargoyles with mouths open and fangs tilted to the sky at the foot of the dome, like they’re trying to shout to the world about the fire. Even now, all these years later, you can see the charred marks of that blaze.

To look at the marquee, you might think the theater was just down for a week between shows. Random letters are scattered around like they’re waiting to be reassembled and make sense. But look at the glass front doors and those rusty chains, and you know that the shows, the crowds, the magic are all a distant memory. The ticket booth is boarded up with cheap plywood that couldn’t even keep out the rain. The underside of the marquee is lined with busted-out light bulbs with shards like the stalactites of a cave.

Ma takes my hand. Crazy how many things she can say with a touch—things like, I miss him, too, We’re going to be okay, and I love you and You still better not be thinking about doing magic.

But she doesn’t say a word. And believe me, Ma can talk when she wants to.

We just stand there, holding hands, at the last place in this world anyone ever saw my father alive.