The Silver Arrow

Little, Brown. Sept. 2020. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316539531.
Gr 3-7–Kate’s 11th birthday is approaching, and she’s bored. She longs to live the kind of adventures she reads about. Figuring she has nothing to lose, she emails a wealthy, mysterious uncle she’s never met, Herbert, and asks him for a birthday present. He delivers in grand style, showing up in person and presenting Kate with a train, an actual full-size steam locomotive—the titular Silver Arrow—that takes her and her brother, Tom, on a magical journey. Traveling on enchanted rail lines, Kate and Tom transport a bevy of talking animals around the globe and must use their imaginations and problem-solving skills to get themselves home again eventually. Environmental messages are woven throughout in entertaining and age-appropriate ways (invasive species attempt a minor coup, a baby pangolin requires such stringent protection from traffickers that it has to be removed from the space-time continuum altogether).
VERDICT Readers of all ages who share the protagonist’s fondness for “books about ordinary people who find out that magic is real” will devour this charming adventure story.

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