Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space (Larklight Series #1)

Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space (Larklight Series #1)

4.9 12
by Philip Reeve, Greg Steinbruner

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Arthur (Art) Mumsby and his irritating sister Myrtle live with their father in a huge and rambling house called Larklight…that just happens to be traveling through outer space. When a visitor called Mr. Webster arrives for a visit, it is far from an innocent social call. Before long Art and Myrtle are off on an adventure to the furthest reaches of space,


Arthur (Art) Mumsby and his irritating sister Myrtle live with their father in a huge and rambling house called Larklight…that just happens to be traveling through outer space. When a visitor called Mr. Webster arrives for a visit, it is far from an innocent social call. Before long Art and Myrtle are off on an adventure to the furthest reaches of space, where they will do battle with evil forces in order to save each other—and the universe. A fantastically original Victorian tale set in an outer space world that might have come from the imaginations of Jules Verne or L Frank Baum, but has a unique gravitational pull all its own…

Editorial Reviews

On the surface, Larklight doesn't seem very different from any other huge, sprawling Victorian mansion. But the abode of Arthur Mumsby, his irritating sister Myrtle, and their father doesn't sit on some London street; it moves in a mysterious orbit far beyond the moon. But even that peculiarity will seem slight after the arrival of a visitor named Mr. Webster, who will set the Mumbys on an uncharted course toward the farthest reaches of the universe. A magical story that seems a hybrid of Jules Verne and L. Frank Baum.
Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Elisabeth Greenberg
This rollicking alternative world fantasy sucks the reader into Art Mumby's world, a world in which Newton's discovery of gravity led to extraordinary houses floating in space and human forays to Mars and farther. Art Mumby's world turns topsy-turvy when white spiders invade his house, Larklight. He and his prissy Victorian sister, Myrtle, escape in their lifeboat. While Art is delighted to escape Myrtle's stumbling exercises on the piano, he quickly falls into worse and worse circumstances—trapped by a potter moth on the moon and left as food for its grub, then rescued by an insouciant boy space pirate Captain Jack Havock and his crew, escapees from the Royal Xenological Institute. The adventures come fast and furious as Myrtle is kidnapped and is off on adventures of her own, Captain Jack and Art venture into the depths of the wind-race of Jupiter to ask guidance of Thunderhead, and Jack and Art with their trusty crew discover the spiders' plan to take over the universe. Laced with sly Victorian allusions to Captain Richard Burton, explorer extraordinaire, and Dickens's serials hitting the papers on Farpoo, beautifully illustrated throughout in fantastical and comical line drawings, this book is a treasure to hold and read. Naturally, these Victorian space adventurers save the queen, regain their family and home (while discovering even more outrageous secrets of the universe), and not only make friends with some wild and weird creatures, but, just maybe, begin their first forays into adolescent love. This wonderfully imaginative story would make a perfect gift for any adventurous preteen.
VOYA - Teresa Copeland
What if space and other planets had atmospheres and civilizations? What if the Victorian Empire extended to the moons of Jupiter, with sailing ships powered by alchemy? Myrtle and Arthur live in such a world on Larklight, a large, rambling old house that floats in earth's orbit. There they collect space fish for their father, who studies them, and generally lead a boring life. The arrival of Mr. Webster and a ship of spiders intent on stealing their house sends the siblings on a mad adventure that ranges from London to Saturn. They get help from pirates, strange creatures, explorer Richard Burton, and the great storm of Jupiter while they work to thwart the spiders' plans to take over the solar system and figure out what it is that makes Larklight so important. Written like a nineteenth-century travelogue, the story features Art as narrator and commentator, occasionally inserting pages from Myrtle's diary, notes, and asides that further explain the world, and referring to Wyatt's wonderfully detailed etching-style illustrations. At times Art's voice is pretentious and annoying, with British pluck taken to the extreme. Reeve fills his characters with stereotypes of the Victorian era, including the attitudes toward non-Europeans as savages and heathens, pushing them to the point of absurdity. The characters grow up a lot, and the plot twists and turns tightly, with a few subtly foreshadowed surprises and plenty of adventure. This fun read will appeal mostly to fans of the steampunk genre.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-This wildly imaginative sci-fi pirate adventure has tongue-in-cheek humor and social commentary on accepting those who are different, among other things. Art Mumby and his sister, Myrtle, proud citizens of the British Empire, which in 1851 includes extraterrestrial territories, live with their father in Larklight, a rambling house that just happens to be traveling through outer space. The arrival of elephant-sized white spiders sets in motion an adventure that takes the quibbling siblings across the universe to battle the forces of evil. The spiders, the First Ones, want the key to Larklight in order to destroy the Empire and rule again. Art and Myrtle, thinking their father dead in the spiders' webs, escape their home, only to be rescued by the notorious space pirate Jack Havock. His ship sails the lunar sea with its crew, including Ssilissa, a human-sized blue lizard, and a gigantic land crab named Nipper. Art is the narrator, but when he and his sister are separated, readers are treated to Myrtle's prim and proper diary entries. With the help of Jack and his merry band, good triumphs, the family is reunited, and Myrtle and Jack begin a romance. Reeve's cinematic prose describes his fantastic universe while also conveying a Victorian sensibility. Whimsical, detailed black-and-white illustrations enhance the text. Readers will eagerly suspend disbelief; they will be riveted by the exciting plot's twists and turns as our heroes face death-defying adventures and narrow escapes, all at a frenetic pace. As Art would declare, "Huzzah!"-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The glory of Empire meets Star Trek in this space fantasy-picaresque that Edgar Rice Burroughs would have loved. Staunch British citizens Art Mumby and older sister Myrtle live in Larklight, a free-floating home just on the other side of the Moon. When giant white spiders invade and attack their father, the two escape, propelled into a series of adventures that bring them into contact with Jack Havock, teen pirate, his crew of xenomorphs upon the aether-ship Sophronia, Sir Richard Burton, agent of Her Majesty's Secret Service on Mars and Thunderhead, the vast intelligence that is the Red Spot of Jupiter. Reeve brilliantly creates a world where the environs of space are governed by credibly 19th-century assumptions: Interplanetary travel takes place in wooden vessels; the aether has enough oxygen for our dauntless characters to breathe; and a panoply of whimsical aliens populates the solar system. Art, the quintessential boy, narrates this rip-roaring adventure, allowing his very ladylike sister's diary to fill in the holes when they are separated, and the interplay between the two is priceless in itself. Jolly good fun, all around. (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
Larklight Series, #1
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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Meet the Author

Philip Reeve worked in a bookshop and produced and directed several theater projects before embarking on a career as an illustrator and a writer. His first novel, Mortal Engines, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children's Book Award and won the GOLD Nestle Smarties book prize. He lives in Devon, England, with his wife and their son.

David Wyatt has illustrated books and covers for authors including Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Diana Wynne-Jones, Alan Garner, and J. R. R. Tolkien. He lives in Devon, England.

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