Book Title: The Silver Arrow (available here)
Author: Lev Grossman
Illustrator: Tracy Bishop
Publication Date: September 2020
Most Suitable For: KS2
Reviewer: Suzanne Booth
The Silver Arrow is a magical train adventure that includes talking animals and a topical environmental message. Children love adventures, and ones on trains are always a hit – but The Silver Arrow is no ordinary train adventure. It reminded me of The Polar Express in setting, reminiscent of the magic of this story too, mixed with the animal magic of something like The Lion, Witch & The Wardrobe – a potential modern classic in the making!
I took the opportunity to read this to my class as our class novel, and this book did not disappoint! The children were hooked from the beginning, when Kate receives an unexpected gift from an Uncle she never sees - a 102-ton steam engine! However, the gift is not all that it seems. Kate’s little brother Tom is equally excited by this new arrival, but when he is playing around in the cab the train begins to move. The children discover that there is something even more unusual different about this train - it instructs them on what to do via printed notes.
Soon the children find themselves on a journey, collecting all manner of animals on their way. The animals have a message for them. Through the advice of their companions, (including a critically endangered white-bellied heron and a grumpy porcupine) the children realise that they have a bigger job than just driving a train and that they must set about to find a new balance in a damaged world.
My class were completely engaged by the human and animal characters throughout the book, who were written with both humour but integrity at the same time. They really enjoyed talking about the characters, and the twists and turns in the story made for some fantastic prediction and book-talk discussions. The conservation and environmental; links give this story a unique twist and makes it very topical, which also raised some important questions and dialogue in the classroom.
The beautiful illustrations are a wonderful addition and are detailed and descriptive. Overall, The Silver Arrow is a great adventure story that would be enjoyed for children aged between 8-12 and would be an asset to any book corner.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to our Review Panel member for reviewing it.
Where next? > Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.