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The Silver Arrow di Lev Grossman
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The Silver Arrow (edizione 2020)

di Lev Grossman (Autore)

UtentiRecensioniPopolaritàMedia votiCitazioni
15010151,106 (3.91)2
"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.… (altro)
Utente:dukeofapollo13
Titolo:The Silver Arrow
Autori:Lev Grossman (Autore)
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2020), Edition: Illustrated, 272 pages
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca
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Etichette:Nessuno

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The Silver Arrow di Lev Grossman

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On her eleventh birthday, Kate's rich and distant uncle gifts her with a train engine -- not a toy one but a fully functioning steam one. Kate and her brother Tom board it while their parents are distracted and are magically transported to station after station in order to help a variety of talking animals get to their destinations.

This was an unexpectedly delightful novel that had hints of the wry narrator from A Series of Unfortunate Events, some of the magic of the lighter Harry Potter novels, drops of the whimsy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and a sweetness all its own. I loved how it weaved in adventure and education, with talking animals discussing the plights of climate change endangering their habitats and numbers, a treasure hunt that tells readers about Grace Hopper's contributions to computer science, and a magical journey that contains many facts about steam trains.

For the audiobook reader, Simon Vance did a wonderful job bringing all the various characters to life. Readers will ride along for the emotional journey as they experience Kate and Tom's joys and disappointments. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Oct 24, 2021 |
Kate and her younger brother Tom lead dull lives. With her 11th birthday imminent, Kate sends a letter to her rich Uncle Herbert for a birthday gift. Herbert and her mother are estranged, but he shows up in a bright yellow suit, and parks a 102-ton locomotive (The Silver Arrow) in her backyard. Reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth, they jump on the train and head off on an adventure, starting with their eclectic choice of railcars, ranging from a library to swimming pool to candy shop. At the first few stops, the siblings, who become the train's engineers and conductors, gather passengers: each one, an animal bringing with them fresh stories and perspectives. The train itself has a quirky personality, which I liked. At its heart, the novel is a rollicking and heartwarming adventure story, with an important message for all (and some nice illustrations.)

( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
A magical train, the Silver Arrow, is given as a birthday present from an eccentric rich uncle.
Birthday girl, Kate, and her younger brother, Tom, become the conductors of the train, transporting talking animals to their destinations, with environmental concerns touched upon.
All this wrapped up in a juvenile fiction middle grade novel.
I came for the magic, but the emphasis seemed more on the animals and the environment, which is more than okay.
Since I was a child, I've always had a weird aversion to stories with lots of talking animals (sorry Charlotte's Web et.al.), but I gave this one a chance (there is an adorable baby pangolin!).
It just seemed to me that it was a bit of a sad story, with Kate and Tom making some connections with the animals, but the connections are fleeting, due to the nature/purpose of the train travel. ( )
  deslivres5 | Feb 25, 2021 |
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
---

You really don’t appreciate how incredibly colossal a steam locomotive is till one shows up parked on the street in front of your house. This one was about fifteen feet high and fifty feet long, and it had a headlight and a smokestack and a bell and a whole lot of pipes and pistons and rods and valve handles on it. The wheels alone were twice her height.

WHAT'S THE SILVER ARROW ABOUT?
Kate lives a life that she doesn't find that interesting. It involves a lot of reading (mostly books about science, or books where people discover that magic is real), wishing her parents would pay her more attention, or that something interesting would happen. I don't think her younger brother, Tom, is any more satisfied, but he seems generally more upbeat. They have an uncle they've never met—because their parents describe him as irresponsible, but incredibly rich.

For her 11th birthday, Kate writes him a letter, asking for a present. What arrives is her uncle—who may be irresponsible, but he seems like a nice guy (even if her parents have a seemingly irrational amount of anger toward him) who arranges for a steam train, The Silver Arrow, to be delivered to her (and a small line of track installed in her backyard). While Kate and Tom climb all over it, her parents demand that Uncle Herbert remove the train. Before he can, it leaves with them on board.

Not only does it start by itself and travel through places it shouldn't—the train communicates with the children. Before they know it, they're at a hub where they add on passenger cars (among other things) and then start picking up passengers, all of whom are talking exotic animals (fully ticketed). Sure, by definition, a talking animal is fairly exotic, but I'm talking about things like a pangolin, a polar bear, a mamba, a fishing cat, and so on.

While they travel through the world (including many places that non-magical Steam Trains can't go) the siblings have to overcome various challenges, defy the laws of physics (but never in a way that feels like violating physics), learn to work together, and learn a few lessons about some pretty heavy topics (in an entertaining and age-appropriate manner).

THIS REALLY REMINDED ME OF...

Life always seemed so interesting in books, but then when you had to actually live it nothing all that interesting ever seemed to happen. And unlike in books, you couldn’t skip ahead past the boring parts.

The marketing for the book mentions both Roald Dahl and The Chronicles of Narnia. I honestly don't remember the Dahl books I read in enough detail to comment on that—but it feels mostly okay. But Narnia? No. Sure, there were talking animals—but not that kind of Talking Beasts. Also, there's no allegory at work here. That comparison didn't work for me.

Julie Edwards's The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles came to mind while thinking about the book—the mix of science and magic, the way that adults talk frankly to children, the feel of the narration—all hearkened back to that for me.

But primarily, this reminded me of The Phantom Tollbooth—from the unexpected arrival of a magical form of transportation, to the encounters with strange realities, and lessons learned, the occasional feel of absurdity (that never feels absurd)...it speaks Tollbooth to me.

Neither of these books have the marketing pull of Dahl or Narnia, so I get why the Publisher went with the ones they went with, but it irks me that they were so far off.

THE THINGS BEYOND THE STORY

Deep in her heart Kate knew that. She knew that her problems weren’t real problems, at least not compared with the kinds of problems kids had in stories. She wasn’t being beaten, or starved, or forbidden to go to a royal ball, or sent into the woods by an evil stepparent to get eaten by wolves. She wasn’t even an orphan! Weirdly, Kate sometimes caught herself actually wishing she had a problem like that-a zombie apocalypse, or an ancient curse, or an alien invasion, anything really-so that she could be a hero and survive and triumph against all the odds and save everybody.

As Milo did in The Phantom Tollbooth, Kate (and, to a lesser extent, Tom) learn a lot from their travels and the atypical people they encounter. Some of the things I noted they experienced—and that young readers will encounter include maturity/embracing responsibility; engaging in life, not merely observing (via smartphone or books); animal preservation/conservation—notably of threatened or endangered species; and a strong hope in the future of and for Humanity. I don't usually see the latter two themes paired together but I found Grossman's use of the two to keep the book from being too heavy or too light.

THIS IS A BOOK TO READ ALOUD
The best part of the book for me was Grossman's use of language, his style, and voice. He sucked me in with the way he told the story before Kate and The Silver Arrow got their hooks in me. There's a charm to the language that would attract (I can only imagine) middle-grade readers in a similar way that Norton Juster did me decades ago.

The other thing that kept coming to mind was just how fun this would be to read aloud to a kid of the right age. There are several lines that just beg to be hammed up while reading to a receptive third-grader, like:
[image error] “Herbert,” he said. “What the blazes is this?” He didn’t really say blazes, but you can’t put the word he did say in a book for children.
[image error] [After several sentences of the mamba speaking full of "ssssss"s] (I’m not going to keep typing all the extra s’s, so just keep in mind that the snake hisses a lot when he talks.)
[image error] Weird how boys had feelings, too, but pretended they didn't.

Those probably work better in context, but he breaks the fourth wall enough to add plenty of opportunities to have fun while you read it.

SO, WHAT DID I THINK ABOUT THE SILVER ARROW?

She’d almost forgotten that the train could talk. There’s a lot going on in your life when you have more urgent things to think about than a talking train.

I think if I was about 40 years younger, I'd probably rate this at least 4 Stars, or maybe if I'd actually read it to someone, that might have done the trick. But I'm an old(er) crank and I could only imagine what it'd have been like to read to my kids.

This is a fun book, a kind of adventure that I'd want to give to kids, I'd want kids to be exposed to. And, yeah, it's good for the inner child of older readers who like to remember how much fun certain books can be. ( )
  hcnewton | Dec 14, 2020 |
For her eleventh birthday, Kate wishes for something big - and she gets it. Her Uncle Herbert, her mother's brother who she's never met, shows up with an actual steam engine - a magic steam engine. Kate and her little brother Tom take off in the train, which talks via a typewriter-style device, and their first stop is a platform full of talking animals with tickets in their mouths. Once Kate and Tom assemble their train cars (a library car, a dining car, a kitchen car, a sleeper car, a candy car, a mystery car, etc.) with Uncle Herbert's help, they pick up the animals, and they're off on an adventure. But where? And why?

The ending is resolved, but leaves the possibility of a sequel (featuring either Kate or Tom). If there was one, I'd definitely read it!

Quotes

[Grace Hopper used to say that sometimes it's better to ask forgiveness than permission.] ...Back then the world was way too prejudiced to allow women to be computer programmers, and computers hadn't been invented yet anyway, but in spite of all that Grace Hopper became a computer programmer...Grace Hopper was something of a role model for Kate. (13-14)

For a certain kind of person there is literally nothing nicer than eating breakfast by yourself on a moving train with a good book. Kate was one of those people. (70)

[The library car] was exactly what she'd imagined, only more so. (87)

One of the things Kate was learning on the train was what to do when you saw a problem, which was that you tried to solve it. At home her usual approach to a problem was to ignore it till her parents noticed it, at which point they would solve it for her - but here on the train there were no parents. She was in charge. (102)

Not solving problems was way easier than solving them, obviously. But left to their own devices, problems usually only got worse. Better to get it over with. (103)

If she wasn't sure what to do, she would just have to guess based on what she did know and live with the consequences. (104)

It would've been so easy to give in - giving in was almost always the easiest thing, in Kate's experience....It was time to decide whether she was going to let herself be bullied.
And when she realized that, she realized that she'd already decided. (111)

She couldn't go back, but she didn't know how to go forward, either. She knew it was wrong to give up, but when people said you should never give up, they never talked about how hard it was to keep going! Maybe part of being an adventurer was knowing when the adventure was over. (188-189)

"You asked before where we were all going," the heron said, "and I think nobody wanted to say it, but the truth is that we're running away from you." (194)

"Everything's changing," the heron said. "Animals are on the move all over the world. We're refugees, just like people." (195)

When you're a child the adult world looks so exciting, and it is, but it's also so much sadder and more complicated than you expect. And you can't just take the good parts, you have to take it all, even if it's not what you wanted. (195)

Some problems in this world just don't have answers. Not yet. (216)

"The world has lost its old balance, but it's not too late. It could still find a new one." (Heron to Kate, 220)

Adventures were a good thing, a great thing, but it turned out that coming home wasn't all bad either. (258) ( )
  JennyArch | Oct 11, 2020 |
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"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.

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