The Silver Arrow

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Silver Arrow Book Poster Image
Sister and brother steer magic train in whimsical fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Silver Arrow offers the opportunity to discuss the value of perseverance and the importance of completing hard tasks. It showcases many unusual animals from around the world, including a baby pangolin.

Positive Messages

Setting goals, working hard, and keeping promises are important. Never give up, especially when looking after endangered animals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Katie and Tom seem to be of no specific ethnicity. Although they bicker from time, they are basically good kids -- brave, compassionate, and protective of each other and their animal charges.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents should know that The Silver Arrow is a gentle, whimsical fantasy about a magic train filled with talking animals, driven by an 11-year-old girl and her 9-year-old brother. Although the characters find themselves in dangerous situations, no one gets hurt. 

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What's the story?

As THE SILVER ARROW opens, Kate is about to celebrate her 11th birthday with younger brother Tom and their parents, when her mysterious Uncle Herbert arrives. He brings a fabulous gift, a genuine, full-size passenger train christened The Silver Arrow. Against their mother's wishes, Kate and Tom board the train, only for it to leave the station before they can disembark. The Arrow stops eventually, but all the passengers who get on are wild animals, ones that can talk. Kate and Tom must return the animals to their native habitats, where many are on the verge of extinction. Can Katie, Tom, and their animal friends solve the mystery of another missing train and pilot the Silver Arrow to safety?

Is it any good?

Tales featuring talking animals have long been favorites, and this pleasantly old-fashioned fantasy features a lively cast of creatures. With The Silver Arrow, Lev Grossman, author of the adult fantasy series The Magicians, celebrates the Narnia books and the adventures of Doctor Doolittle, but with a 21 century spin. "Never give up!" is the one of the central messages of the narrative, as is a call to protect the planet. If those are not the most innovative of themes, they are handled with grace and wit. It's nice to have a stand-alone adventure that fulfills its goals in one volume, without the need for bloated, inconclusive sequels. The plot is frequently suspenseful, but there's little to disturb the reader. The Silver Arrow hits the mark wherever it's aimed!

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Silver Arrow promotes perseverance. Why is it important to make goals and stick to them?

  • Why do readers enjoy stories about talking animals? What others do you know? Why are these stories found in cultures around the globe?

  • Why are plants and animals going extinct so rapidly? What can be done to protect them from climate change and other dangers?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and environmental books

Themes & Topics

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