cover image Brightstorm


Vashti Hardy, illus. by George Ermos. Norton Young Readers, $18.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-324-00564-3

This enjoyable steampunk adventure by debut author Hardy sees twins Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm join a sky ship race to discover South Polaris. Scholarly, headstrong Arty, born with one arm, wears an iron prosthesis crafted and maintained by mechanically inclined Maud. After their father is declared dead—eaten by polar beasts—and judged guilty of violating the frequently classist Geographical Society’s Explorer’s Code in a previous race, the 12-year-olds are summarily kicked out of their Lontown family home. They’re sold to a cruel couple, who send Maud to work in the shipyard and force Arty to clean and cook. When their father’s sapient hawk, Parthena, returns from the ice continent with evidence of his survival, the children jump at the chance to crew with young explorer Harriet Culpepper in a voyage to reach South Polaris; they hope to cleanse the besmirched family name and find their father alive. Arty’s determination and Maudie’s engineering skills both prove vital in the journey across the varied terrain of Hardy’s marvelously imagined world and its surprising allies, from desert kings to thought wolves. Ages 9–12. [em](Mar.) [/em]