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Treasure Hunters: The Ultimate Quest
By Chris Grabenstein
Illustrated by Juliana Neufeld
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 23, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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The Kidd family is on an exciting new mission: use the augmented reality gear their parents created to uncover long-lost treasure. But then their ship, The Lost, explodes in a ball of fire! Now Bick, Beck, Tommy, and Storm are stranded on a raft in the Mediterranean Sea, and their parents have been kidnapped by maniacal treasure hunters. It’s up to the Kidd siblings to follow clues around the globe to uncover an ancient treasure and save their parents . . . before they lose everything!
QUICK NOTE FROM BICK KIDD
Hi! It’s me again—Bick Kidd. Just wanted to remind you that I’ll be the one telling this story (and it’s pretty darn exciting, if I do say so myself, which I just did). My twin sister, Beck—she’s the one with the ink-speckled hands—will be doing the drawings.
Okay. Fine. Beck says if I’m going to mention the ink all over her hands I have to mention the orange goop smeared on the tips of my fingers. What can I say? I love a good bag of cheese puffs.
The second time we lost our parents was even worse than the first.
Because we also lost our boat. (Guess that’s bound to happen sooner or later when you name your ship The Lost.)
Tommy, Beck, and I were flippering around on a dive, exploring the underwater ruins of the sunken city of Thonis-Heracleion. It’s a real version of the mythical Atlantis. Thonis-Heracleion was once a sprawling port city that used to be ancient Egypt’s gateway to the Mediterranean Sea. Now it’s buried under that same sea.
We were approximately 6.5 kilometers (about four miles) off the coast of Egypt, northeast of Alexandria. Our big sister, Storm, was topside in our dive boat. Storm, who has a photographic memory, hates scuba diving. Probably because one of the photographs in her memory is a snapshot of the one time she did join us on an underwater treasure hunt. It includes a shark trying to bite her in the butt.
Mom and Dad were on board our ship, The Lost, feeding us the data we needed for this dive.
“It’s a test run,” Dad had explained. “For our next big treasure quest.”
“If it works here,” said Mom, “it’ll guide us to the ultimate treasure. The treasure of all treasures! And it’s been missing for more than seven hundred years!”
Mom and Dad are big on building suspense like that. Keeps everybody psyched and highly motivated.
We’d just wound up on a quick expedition in Antarctica. No, we weren’t looking for penguin pirate plunder. We were searching for meteorites—chunks of space rocks buried beneath the ice. We’d found several, and our Great Uncle Richie “Poppie” Luccio, who’d been with us on our last couple of treasure hunts (and really is pretty great), had decided to stay at the South Pole with a team of British researchers to look for more space rocks, especially iron meteorites that might come from the interiors of distant planets or the cores of asteroids. Uncle Richie loved the science. He also loved the fact that the British team’s members liked to play cards at night. He would be off the grid for weeks.
Meanwhile, Tommy, Beck, and I were testing out some new treasure-hunting gear Mom and Dad had invented: augmented reality dive masks.
It was kind of like that old Pokémon Go game, only way more sophisticated and advanced.
The AR dive masks used tons of data and charts created from high-tech surveying, sonar readings, and archaeological research to overlay an image of what an ancient place used to look like over what was there now. In our case, we could see the outline of an ancient Egyptian temple superimposed over what was there now: murky darkness and swirling sand.
Up on the surface, Storm was running the submersible Wi-Fi system that streamed all the data needed to create the augmented reality images projected on the interior glass of our dive masks. That data (and the same kind of information for a “treasure hunt to be announced later,” as Mom and Dad put it) was actually stored on a single super laptop computer on board The Lost. It had a bajillion-petabyte hard drive. Okay, I made that number up. Let’s just say the thing’s storage capacity is ginormous.
The AR dive masks are how we had just located a priceless marble statue of Cleopatra, who looked like she’d been holding her breath underwater for more than two thousand years.
Suddenly, all the augmented reality visuals inside our masks disappeared. The glass went blank.
Until we saw a fresh video image: Storm waving her hand over her head.
She wasn’t waving “Howdy.” She was giving us a dive distress signal.
The one for “trouble on the surface”!
The three of us kicked our way topside as quickly as we could.
The first thing I saw was Storm perched in the bow of the dive boat. She looked horrified. She was also pointing at the horizon.
The second thing I saw was the thing that had horrified Storm: The Lost. On the horizon. ON FIRE!
Great big black billowy clouds were boiling up off the stern. The dark and lumpy cloud clumps were chased skyward by orange flames lashing up from the diesel-fueled engines down below.
“Are Mom and Dad okay?” shouted Beck, who had her mask tilted back on her head.
“I don’t know!” said Storm. “Their communications cut out the same instant the data stream did.”
Tommy was already clambering up into the inflatable rubber raft we used for our dive boat.
“The fire suppression system down in the engine room should’ve kicked in!” he shouted.
“Well, obviously, it didn’t!” said Beck, hauling herself up into the boat with a sideways flop. “Come on, Bick! We need to go put out that fire!”
I grabbed hold of the slick sides of the sixteen-foot dinghy and pulled myself on board.
“I suspect electrical issues,” said Storm.
“Impossible,” said Tommy, yanking on the outboard motor’s starter cord. “Dad and I thoroughly inspected every single wire, switch, electrical outlet, and circuit breaker last week!”
Beck and I exchanged a glance. We wondered if Tommy left his hair dryer running this morning. It’s how he keeps his swooping mane so swingy and fluffy.
As we raced (okay, puttered—the dive boat isn’t all that fast) across the choppy water and pulled closer to The Lost, we could feel the heat radiating off the fireball at the rear of the ship. We could also smell the acrid odor of burning oil and melting rubber.
Then came the explosion.
A tremendous fireball burst through the roof of the wheelhouse.
“That sounded like a bomb!” said Storm.
“You guys?” I said. “This might not be an accident. This might be an attack!”
Storm flashed a Morse code message with her very shiny signal mirror. “Their electronic devices and cell phones don’t seem to be working. I’ll let them know the old-fashioned way that help is coming.”
“Smart thinking, Storm!” said Tommy, twisting the engine throttle as far as he could without snapping it off. The engine whined.
Beck and I were up in the bow. We hoped that Mom and Dad would signal back. Our eyes swept the deck.
We saw nothing.
“Prepare to board, you guys!” said Tommy as he swung the skiff sideways. “Storm? Stay with the raft. Bick and Beck? You’re with me.”
Storm made her way to the back of the dive boat. Tommy bounded across the bench seats like a long jumper building up speed for his blastoff. He leapt past Beck and me, flew up, grabbed hold of a railing, and hauled himself up onto the deck of The Lost. He quickly found a rope and tossed us a line.
Beck and I clambered up to our ship.
When we grabbed the side railings, they were sizzling hot.
We had to find Mom and Dad. Fast.
We were running out of time.
So was The Lost.
We used our arms to block the broiling heat rolling in waves off the fiery stern.
Whatever water droplets that had attached themselves to our dive suits and flippers evaporated in an instant. I just hoped our neoprene wet suits wouldn’t melt and turn us into shrink-wrapped plastic action figures with only one pose.
“The ship is taking on water!” said Tommy, coming back from a quick inspection of the stern.
“Good!” I said. “The water will put out the fire.”
“It will also sink the ship!” said Beck.
“Well, at least it won’t be burning any longer.”
“Water’s no good on an oil fire, Bick,” said Tommy. “It’ll just spread out on the sea and keep burning until the fuel is all gone.”
“The Room!” I shouted. I would’ve snapped my fingers, too, but that’s super hard to do when you’re wearing rubber gloves.
“Bick’s right!” said Beck. “It’s the safest place on the ship!”
Tommy nodded. “Way to think, guys. If Mom and Dad are still on board, that’s where they’ll be. In The Room!”
The three of us dashed up toward the bow of the boat.
“We’ll go in through my cabin!” said Tommy, pulling up on the deck hatch that doubled as his ceiling’s skylight.
No smoke came pouring out of the cabin below.
That was a good thing. It meant that, at least for now, the fire was contained to the stern and hadn’t plowed its way forward through the galley and all the boat’s bulkheads.
We dropped down into Tommy’s room.
(I looked. He had turned off his blow dryer. His miniature espresso machine, too.)
We split up for a few seconds, each of us poking our heads into the other cabins. Tommy’s room. Storm’s. Mom and Dad’s.
There was nothing. Except the first wisps of curling smoke seeping in under the aft door to the galley.
There was a tremendous groaning, creaking sound as the whole ship began to tilt backward. We heard crashing and clattering and clinking. Whatever wasn’t nailed or battened down slid around and rolled off shelves, bookcases, and countertops.
“The Lost is going down!” I shouted.
“Well, I’m not the captain,” said Beck. “So, no way am I going down with the ship.”
“None of us are,” said Tommy, who can be incredibly heroic while I’m usually incredibly terrified. When the going gets tough, he has that whole Keep Calm and Carry On thing going on. “But first, we need to inspect… The Room!”
Whenever any of us said “The Room,” it was like we had to hold a beat for the DUN-DUN-DUN music. The Room was a supersecret place that was, in the olden days, off limits to all of us. It also has a solid steel door with a serious dead bolt—the same kind they use on bank vaults. At Fort Knox.
The Room was where Mom and Dad kept the most secret stuff on the boat. Treasure maps. Retrieval plans. Notes on dealers and middlemen for museums. Lists of Treasures to Be Hunted. But, when they both went missing after a tropical storm, The Room became ours.
So did The Key to The Room. (Everything about the place needed capital letters.) We made several copies.
Fortunately, I wore mine on a chain around my neck. (It looks cooler than it sounds. Okay. Beck says it looks dorky. Fine. You don’t have to draw me dramatically fishing around in my dive suit to retrieve it. Although it’d be awesome if you did.)
The Room was the safest place on the ship because the walls were fireproof. They had to be. There was a lot of important stuff on display and in the file cabinets.
Which, we discovered when I unlocked the door, had been trashed.
Somebody had yanked open all the drawers and tossed papers and folders all over the floor.
“Mom and Dad didn’t do this,” said Beck. “Somebody else is on this ship.”
“Or they were,” I added.
There was another moaning creak, and the boat lurched backward again—enough to knock Beck and me off our feet. We fell face-first on the slanted floor.
“We’re running out of time,” said Tommy. “Mom and Dad are gone.”
“How can you be sure?” I asked.
Tommy jutted out his lantern jaw and struck a very heroic pause. “I just am, little brother. I just am.”
“What about all the cubbyholes and hiding places back up on deck?” said Beck.
The Lost had all sorts of cool secret compartments where we stowed stuff we didn’t want any bad guys knowing about—including some pretty awesome weaponry.
Tommy shook his head. “You don’t hide in a secret compartment with walls made out of wood during a blazing inferno, guys. We have to face facts: Mom and Dad are gone and our ship is sinking. We need to grab what we can and abandon ship.”
I looked around The Room. There were so many antiques and precious artifacts worthy of being rescued. Sure, some of them were sliding out of their display cases and shattering, but still…
“There’s so much to save, Tommy!” shouted Beck. “So many memories.”
“I know!” Tommy shouted back.
We all had to shout. The fire was getting closer and louder. The listing Lost was creaking and straining and pulling itself apart.
“But, you guys?” Tommy continued. “Sometimes you just have to decide what’s really important and go for it!”
Tommy grabbed Dad’s laptop as it slid along the top of a tilting desk.
That was a smart move.
The innocent-looking computer was the brains of the whole augmented-reality-treasure-hunting system. Maybe it could, somehow, help us find the most important treasure of all: Mom and Dad.
Beck went for a necklace with a pendant. It was Mom’s favorite and the one piece of jewelry Beck had always admired more than any other, including all the diamonds and emeralds and rubies we’d found inside treasure chests.
I grabbed Dad’s fake Grecian urn. It was a cheap copper replica of the priceless one that had helped us the last time we lost our parents. Even though it was a chintzy rip-off of the real deal, it reminded me of this corny joke Dad liked to tell (over and over and over): What’s a Grecian urn? About thirty dollars a week.
“You’re rescuing a piece of cheap pottery?” said Beck.
“It’s important to me!”
“Well, this necklace is important to me!”
“I didn’t say anything about the necklace, Beck.”
“No, but you were thinking it, Bick!”
“You guys?” shouted Tommy. “This is no time for a Twin Tirade. It’s time to abandon ship!”
Tommy was right. The boat we’d used to hunt shipwrecks was about to become a wrecked ship itself!
The three of us grabbed whatever handholds we could find on deck and climbed our way up what had become a steep slope as the ship simultaneously angled skyward and slid deeper into the sea.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Titanic, it was sort of like that. But without the music.
The back half of The Lost was already underwater and, as Tommy predicted, our fuel spill was still raging, churning out thick plumes of oily black smoke.
We all had to jump overboard to rejoin Storm in the motor-powered rubber raft below.
“We need to get out of here!” Storm advised us after we’d hit the inflatable deck and bounced around like we were at somebody’s floating bouncy house birthday party. We only had a minute or two to think about all The Lost meant to each of us. It had been our home. Our school. Our playground. We had sailed around the globe with her. We had grown up with her.
It was like we were all losing our oldest and dearest friend.
Just when I was about to start snuffling back the tears, Storm pointed to the sky. And the helicopter hovering overhead.
“We have uninvited visitors!”
“Yikes!” said Beck, freaking out (just a little) and jostling the necklace she’d rescued from The Room (which, by the way, she was already wearing. Don’t ask me when she found time to put on jewelry during all that dramatic escaping, but, somehow, she did).
The pendant on the necklace started blinking. A small, strobing red dot of light throbbed inside the faceted jewel.
“I must’ve accidentally bopped some kind of button!” said Beck.
The thumping helicopter dropped down lower and swooped in closer.
“It’s a homing beacon!” shouted Tommy, throttling the outboard engine with a wicked twist of his wrist.
We blasted off, bouncing over the wake The Lost was churning up as it slid deeper and deeper into the Mediterranean. “Whoever’s on that chopper is going to use that pendant to target us. Throw it away, Beck! Toss it overboard.”
“No!” shouted Storm. “That’s Mom’s favorite necklace.”
“I know,” said Beck. “That’s why I wanted to save it.”
“Good move.” Storm turned to face Tommy. “No way would Mom put a targeting device on her necklace. But it could be a distress signal.”
“Good,” I said. “Because we’re definitely in distress!”
“Okay, okay,” said Tommy. “Sorry I said ‘toss it,’ Beck. Maybe it’s one of those ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’ type devices they advertise on TV. Maybe it’ll call for help.”
“Let’s hope so,” said Beck. “Because we could definitely use some. Right now!”
The helicopter dipped into a dive like it wanted to land in our raft.
Tommy goosed the outboard motor and the raft shot off like a surfboard cresting a curl.
“The shore is four miles away,” said Storm. “Head south and west, Tommy.”
“No can do,” said Tommy. “Need to initiate some evasive maneuvers first.”
He was right. The helicopter was still chasing after us. Tommy would try to shake them off our tail with some fancy boatmanship.
I looked back to where The Lost used to be. There was nothing left but a greasy, flaming stain on the surface of the water. The Lost was, officially, lost. We probably would’ve all bowed our heads and had a moment of silence for our beloved ship except the noisy helicopter made even momentary silence impossible.
Then someone started yelling out of the helicopter’s side with a bullhorn.
“Children?” came the amplified voice from overhead. “Kidd family members?”
I shielded my eyes and looked up. A woman in a flight suit was perched in the chopper’s open cargo door.
“I think she’s talking to us,” I said.
“Well, duh,” said Beck. “There’s nobody else down here. Plus, we’re the Kidds. Remember?”
Beck was right. And not just about us being the Kidds. We were in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing around us but choppy salt water. No other boats. No rescue helicopters. No cavalry riding speedboats and wave runners to our rescue.
Just the lady overhead with the bullhorn.
“I’m gonna ease up on the throttle,” said Tommy. “Hear what she has to say.”
And, of course, once Tommy realized it was a woman on the bullhorn, he smiled and struck a pose that showed off most of his muscles. He has a thing for the ladies. It’s why Mom and Dad call him Tailspin Tommy. He meets a girl, even one hanging out of a helicopter with a bullhorn, and he tumbles hopelessly into love.
“How ya doin’ up there?” Tommy called out. His teeth, which he whitens on a regular basis, twinkled in the sun.
“Come with us, children!” said the lady. “We’ll take you to your parents.”
“You know where they are?” shouted Tommy.
“Yes. We rescued them off your boat when it caught fire.”
“Cool,” said Tommy.
Storm sighed. Very loudly.
“I hate to break your heart, Tommy,” she whispered through gritted teeth, “but she’s lying. Get us out of here. Now!”
“Excuse me, ma’am,” Tommy said with a wink to the lady hanging out of the chopper. “Need to have a family meeting.”
“Be quick about it!” the lady blared back through her bullhorn.
“Oh, we will,” muttered Storm.
Then the four of us draped our arms over one another’s shoulders and, basically, held a football huddle on our raft.
“Might I remind you that I was topside with the dive boat when the fire erupted on The Lost.”
“Sure. Thanks for the reminder. ’Preciate it.”
“What’s your point, Storm?” asked Beck.
“That while you three were underwater visiting Cleopatra in her waterlogged temple, I was the only one in a position to hear an approaching rescue helicopter.”
“And did you?” asked Tommy, innocently.
“Uh, no, Thomas. That’s how I know your new girlfriend up there is lying.”
“She’s not really my—”
Praise for Treasure Hunters:
A New York Times Bestselling Series!
"This series promises it all: ruthless pirates, CIA spies, terrorists, stolen works of art and priceless treasure. More important, it delivers. A high-seas adventure that will entice even the most confirmed of landlubbers."—Kirkus Reviews
- "A frenetic sense of excitement and adventure permeates this nautical escapade.... There's little time to breathe as the Kidds pinball from one spot of trouble to the next, making for a fun and fast-paced ride." —Publishers Weekly
- "Short chapters, copious illustrations, and a rollicking, nonstop plot.... The fiercely loyal Kidds and a healthy dose of humor...make this fun-filled adventure series stand out.... It's hard to imagine the adventure-loving reader who wouldn't be hooked by this series."—Kirkus Reviews
- On Sale
- May 23, 2022
- Page Count
- 320 pages
- jimmy patterson