From School Library Journal
Grade 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
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Arthur (Art) and Myrtle Mumby's space-fantasy adventure begins at Larklight, an ancient structure that orbits Earth. Attacked one day in 1851 by spiderlike creatures, they escape, only to be marooned on the moon, where they are captured by a moth and encased in jars containing voracious larvae. Freed by a band of extraterrestrial pirates led by young human Jack Havock, they fall into many wild adventures and encounter a mad scientist helping the spider creatures destroy life in the solar system. Robots, aliens, famous explorers, and hoverhogs also play a role in this rollicking heroic romp, which resonates with Victorian England's mores. Reflecting Victorian custom, chapter subheads are long and descriptive, with Wyatt's amazingly detailed illustrations furthering the effect. Both the story line and the language demonstrate Reeve's respect for his readership. Kids can look forward to more adventures, though narrator Arthur is off to "have a nice buttered muffin and a cup of tea" first. Diana HeraldCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved