The Silver Arrow
Fall 2020 Kids Indie Next List
— Katrina Bright-Yerges, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI
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A PeopleMagazine Best Book of the Year
An Apple Best Book of the Year
An Amazon Best Book of the Year
"I loved every page. This is middle grade fiction at its best."-- Ann Patchett From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians comes a must-read, wholly original middle-grade debut perfect for fans of The Chronicles of Narnia and Roald Dahl.
Dear Uncle Herbert,
You've never met me, but I'm your niece Kate, and since it is my birthday tomorrow and you are super-rich could you please send me a present?
Kate and her younger brother Tom lead dull, uninteresting lives. And if their dull, uninteresting parents are anything to go by, they don't have much to look forward to. Why can't Kate have thrilling adventures and save the world the way people do in books? Even her 11th birthday is shaping up to be mundane -- that is, until her mysterious and highly irresponsible Uncle Herbert, whom she's never even met before, surprises her with the most unexpected, exhilarating, inappropriate birthday present of all time: a colossal steam locomotive called the Silver Arrow.
Kate and Tom's parents want to send it right back where it came from. But Kate and Tom have other ideas -- and so does the Silver Arrow -- and soon they're off to distant lands along magical rail lines in the company of an assortment of exotic animals who, it turns out, can talk. With only curiosity, excitement, their own resourcefulness and the thrill of the unknown to guide them, Kate and Tom are on the adventure of a lifetime . . . and who knows? They just might end up saving the world after all.
This thrilling fantasy adventure will not only entertain young readers but inspire them to see the beautiful, exciting, and precious world around them with new eyes.
Praise For The Silver Arrow…
"I loved it. Completely unpredictable and completely charming. A perfect book to cuddle up with and savor--and even better to read aloud with someone you love." —Adam Gidwitz, bestselling and Newbery honor-winning author of A Tale Dark and Grimm and The Inquisitor's Tale
*"Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action."—Kirkus, starred review
*"Grossman's gorgeous middle-grade debut is vivid and amusing... it's a world all its own."—Booklist, starred review
"...whimsical details and well-wrought moments of adventure are nevertheless certain to draw young readers."—Publishers Weekly
"...one that's sure to become a classic all its own."—Barnes & Noble Reads
"[A] scrumptious fantasy confection."—Horn Book
"Fans of classic talking-animal tales such as the Chronicles of Narnia will want to pick up a copy."—BCCB
"I loved every page. This is middle grade fiction at its best."—Ann Patchett
"Lev Grossman’s novel ‘The Silver Arrow’ is something special. Here is an adventure story for 8- to 12-year-olds that’s bursting with life and real feeling, told in a sparkling, informal style that parents will find effortless to read aloud."—Wall Street Journal
The Silver Arrow is a rich fantasy of storytelling … there is a bit of a Narnia feel to it, but with more lightness and fun to offset the deeper notes.—Amazon Book Review
“This pleasantly old-fashioned fantasy features a lively cast of creatures … The plot is frequently suspenseful … The Silver Arrow hits the mark wherever it's aimed!"—Common Sense Media
"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."—SLJ Online
“… an eco-fable that addresses a serious global crisis (climate change, though the term is never used) with whimsy.”—The New York Times
“A wonderful children’s book that reminded me of The Lorax and The Phantom Tollbooth.”—Gretchen Rubin
“Fantastic.…If you like Lemony Snicket, this is funnier.”—Fatherly
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316539531, 272pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. If you could have any birthday present in the world, what would you wish for? Why?
2. Do you think technology makes it easier or harder for people to stay connected, both to other people and the world around them?
3. Grace Hopper, the famous inventor and computer programmer, is one of Kate’s biggest role models. Who are some of your role models? Why do they inspire you?
4. If you were the conductor of a magical train like the Silver Arrow, which train cars would you choose to add? Why?
5. Which animal did you most enjoy learning about? What was your favorite fact about them?
6. Over the course of the book, Kate learns about invasive species from the animals. How do invasive species impact other animals and their environments? How are humans an invasive species?
7. What examples of changing habitats are shown or described throughout the book? How do these changes affect the animals who live there?
8. Kate and Tom spend time as trees in exchange for wood to fuel the Silver Arrow. How does being a tree feel to them? How do you think being another form of life would feel?
9. Kate notes that, “People looked down on animals, but animals never made excuses or felt sorry for themselves” (p.183). What other differences between animals and humans do Kate and Tom notice? How are Kate and Tom’s interactions with the animals in the book different from other classic children’s books? Do you think our relationship with the natural world has changed? How?
10. When describing the plight of the baby pangolin Kate says, “Some problems in this world just don’t have answers. Not yet.” (p. 216) How can we work to find answers for those problems? What can you do personally to make our world a better place?