On her 11th birthday, Kate's Uncle Herbert gifted her a train (no, not a model train, a REAL one!). She and her brother, Tom, had many adventures with their uncle in the first book of the series, The Silver Arrow. I encourage readers to begin with the first novel to fully understand the Great Secret Intercontinental Railroad before reading the sequel, The Golden Swift by Lev Goldman.
In this continuing adventure, Kate is trying to locate her Uncle Herbert who hasn't been heard from in quite some time. She travels to his latest known address in Chicago, without finding him. Kate takes matters into her own hands and persuades her brother to tag along to help find their uncle (he may be in danger!!). There is a parallel story of Kate's disappointments at school during recent drama tryouts. In some ways, her railway adventures offer a means of escaping the parts of her life where she doesn't quite feel like she fits in. In this installment, she learns that not everything is at it appears and it's best not to judge a book by its cover.
I liked that the author includes a lot of information about little-known animals in the world and often explains unique features about them as well as where they live in the world. In that respect, the book would offer a wonderful supplement to geography or zoological studies. Where I found the book less enjoyable was the conclusions drawn about climate change and the blame assigned to humans for what is assumed to be the catastrophic state of the world. I think climate and endangered species topics can be brought up without being so preachy and off-putting. And the preaching was not just from the characters but from anthropomorphized animals as well (as if they possessed higher intelligence than mere humans).
Goldman's premise is an interesting one with excitement and creative problem solving and definite maturing of the characters. I just wish readers were not also fed a particular notion of science and politics at the same time.
Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Golden Swift from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.
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