One week from today I am doing an after school program based on Larklight by Philip Reeve. In preparation for the program I thought I better read the book again, or rather listen to the book on CD. I am so glad I did. I had forgotten what a delight the book is, and the talented reader of the recording made it even more fun.
Art and Myrtle Mumby live on Larklight, a Victorian space home orbiting the moon, with their father who studies space animals. In this story it is the middle of the 1800's and the British Empire rules the Solar System. This is because in the 1700's Sir Isaac Newton discovered the mysterious chemical process that allowed his compatriots to build the first interplanetary space ships and bring most of the solar system under British control. Although she was raised on Larklight, Myrtyle tries very hard to be a proper English young lady. Good manners and old fashion British pluck go a long way to help her and her brother through many harrowing adventures like being captured by an interplanetary pirate (a rather dashing one named Jack Havock) and fighting giant space spiders. The juxtaposition of the Victorian theme and the space theme is a hoot. Reeve has created his universe based on 19th century beliefs of what space was like. In the story space is filled with "aether", Art and Myrtle seem to be able to breath wherever they go, even outside of their ship, and there are different races of beings on each of the planets. I laughed out loud more than once. Even though the story is told from the point of view of the boy, Art, girls might enjoy this story more than boys, especially girls who are familiar with period romances like the Jane Austin books. (399 p)