Meet Kate, an average girls who feels her life is incredibly dull and uninteresting and yearns for adventure. On her 11th birthday, that adventure comes in the form of a real, full-sized train engine, gifted to her by her eccentric Uncle Herbert. Not knowing what to expect, but moving with open minds and excitement, Kate and her younger brother Tom board and head off on the adventure of a lifetime in The Silver Arrow, written by Lev Grossman.
A big thank you to Little Brown Young Readers for sharing this book with our family in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions of this book are my own. Affiliate links used. As an affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for considering making a purchase through my links! To read my full disclosure CLICK HERE.
Kate and Tom quickly learn that The Silver Arrow is no ordinary train. Before embarking on their adventure, Uncle Herbert helps them design the cars they want on their train — so, of course, they include not only sleepers and passenger cars, but also a library car, a candy car, and a pool car! The train speaks to them through a smart printer, teaching them how to conduct the train along the way, and every stop brings various animals with tickets for the train.
While the animals amassed may seem random at first, they do all (well, all but one…) have one important thing in common: their environments are being encroached upon, endangered, and even completely destroyed by humans. And this is where this magical, fantastical journey turns eco-fable learning experience. Kate and Tom are not only challenged to transport these animals to new homes all over the world; they are also called to find the balance between improvement/innovation and preservation.
Full of poignant takeaways, I greatly appreciate that Grossman’s message comes across loud and clear without turning this adventure into a guilt trip. One of the last messages Kate and Tom receive from the animals comes from the mamba, who reassures them, “Feeling guilty doesn’t help anything anyway. Humans are animals doing what all animals do: Surviving. It’s just that you’ve done it too well, so well that now you have to becomes a new kind of animal, one who makes sure that all the others survive, too.”
So… If you could design a magical adventure train, which train cars would you include?