The Silver Arrow is a magical middle-grade adventure, written by Lev Grossman, that takes place aboard a talking steam train and is packed with exciting creatures from the indignant porcupine to the lost polar bear and the adorable baby pangolin. A story about saving our endangered animals and the places they live.
At My Book Corner today, we are super lucky to not only have a lovely extract from The Silver Arrow… they’re always super helpful for getting a feel for a book, aren’t they! PLUS… scroll down for one of the gorgeous illustrations tucked inside, created by Tracy Bishop. And that cover? Brandon Dorman created the art for that!!
So, here you go. Grab a cuppa and have a read…
Just then the door opened and two more animals came in.
One was a very long, very thin snake with large, alert black eyes and skin so bright green it was almost fluorescent. Kate felt a powerful instinctive urge to run away from it very, very fast. The other was some kind of large wading bird with long legs and a curvy neck. If pressed Kate might’ve said it was a stork. Or a heron. Or a crane? Or were they all the same thing? You think you know something about animals, and then you have to conduct a whole train full of them. Anyway, it was a big fancy bird. Not the kind you see every day.
“Mind if we join you?” the bird said. She had a lot of long, elegant gray feathers.
“Yes,” said the cat.
“That’sssssssss too bad,” the snake said, sliding smoothly inside. “It’ssssssss because I’m venomoussssss, I know.” He slithered up onto a chair. “It’ssssss a common prejudiccccccce.” (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.)
“A library car,” the heron said. “This is fantastic. Who would’ve thought?”
Kate glowed quietly inside: She would’ve thought!
With two beats of her enormous wings the heron flew up to perch on a lamp.
“You always say things are fantastic,” the snake scoffed.
“Well, you never do,” she said, “so I have to do it twice as much. And anyway, it is!” She turned to Kate. “Are there any cars with fish in them?”
“I was wondering that, too,” the fishing cat said.
“There’s no fish car,” Kate said. Like she would have a fish car! “But they might serve fish in one of the dining cars.”
The porcupine woke up and squinted sleepily at the cat, the bird, the snake, and the human.
“I thought I would be alone in here,” he said.
“And now we’re here!” the heron said. “Isn’t it fantastic?”
“I would like everybody to be clear,” the porcupine said, “that I have approximately thirty thousand quills on my body. They’re mostly for defence, but believe me, they can be lethal.”
The other animals looked at one another.
“I don’t know about all of you, but I’m very frightened.”
The fishing cat rolled onto her back on the couch, paws in the air, and stretched exactly like a house cat would. She didn’t look very frightened.
“Me too,” the snake said. “I would shut my eyes in terror, but I don’t have any eyelids.”
“Really?” Kate said. “How is that possible?”
“I have a transparent scale over each eye. Much more elegant than eyelids.”
“But don’t you ever want to close your eyes?”
“Not really,” the snake said. “I do like licking them, though.”
“I don’t want to brag,” the heron said, “but I have three eyelids.”
“Wait, what?!” Kate said.
“It’s true! Upper eyelid, lower eyelid, plus a nictitating membrane.”
“I’m not even listening,” said the snake. “Because I also don’t have any ears. Or a nose. I smell with my tongue.”
Animals were a lot weirder than Kate had realized.
And… here’s the Tracy Bishop illustration that I promised you. Tracy’s illustrations appear throughout The Silver Arrow. Isn’t this one so elegant?!
Hugest thanks to Bloomsbury for giving us tip top access to this. We’re super grateful!