Larklight

Philip Reeve, Author, David Wyatt, Illustrator , illus. by David Wyatt. Bloomsbury $16.95 (399p) ISBN 978-1-59990-020-9

Reeve (the Hungry City Chronicles) evidently has a fascination with giant, mobile structures, but here he turns his considerable talent to a whimsical story of Victorian houses floating in space, a Jules Verne–like concoction filtered through the sensibilities of Douglas Adams. Art and Myrtle live with their scientist father in a "shapeless, ramshackle, drafty, lonely sort of house" called Larklight. After fleeing an attack from space spiders, the siblings, adrift on a lifeboat, find themselves on the moon, then aboard the ship of legendary pirate Jack Havock. Readers travel a lot of very strange ground, from the Changeling Trees of Venus and their poisonous pollen, to the offices of the Royal Xenological Institute. Art and Jack discover that the spiders were in fact man's precursors in this universe, and the mad Dr. Ptarmigan is working to help the arachnids reclaim it. Larklight itself is a key piece of the puzzle, as is Art's mother, who was presumed dead and who turns out to be alive and much, much older than anyone suspected ("I was a Dinosaur for a while—so invigorating!"). Reeve's humor is oh-so-British and utterly entertaining (the moon is "actually a bit of a dump"; Uranus has been renamed Georgium Sidum because "it provides less opportunity for cheap jokes"), and Wyatt's full-page pen-and-inks and spot illustrations enhance the sense of delight. The climax is an absolute hoot, and leaves the door wide open for any number of sequels. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/28/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Genre: Children's
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-9871-7
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-61963-118-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4281-3447-8
Paperback - 399 pages - 978-1-59990-145-9
Compact Disc - 8 pages - 978-1-4281-3452-2
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4088-2549-5
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