cover image for LarklightReeve, P. (2006) Larklight.  New York, NY:  Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books


Art Mumby lives with his pesky sister and absent-minded father in a mansion called Larklight.  His life was pretty normal, for someone whose house orbits the Earth’s moon, until giant white spiders invaded his home and he and his sister were kidnapped by space pirates.  Now Art, Myrtle, and the notorious Jack Havoc find themselves traipsing all over the known galaxy in an effort to escape the British Navy – and save the British Empire.

I had a really hard time liking this book.  I like fantasy and I like science fiction.  I also like books that manage to be both.  And I’m intrigued by the current steampunk fad.  But I kinda sorta hate books that take really interesting things about science and decide to replace them with fantastical – but in the end not so interesting – made up things.  So I kept going back and forth between really enjoying parts of it, and just really hating it.

I also found the whole empire bit rather odd.  I don’t expect books or characters to be virtuous all the time.  I don’t expect books or characters to be black and white.  But I find steampunk that merely gives a nod to the idea that the colonialization is not such a good thing to be more annoying than steampunk that just ignores it altogether.  I understand that this is a book for tweens and not for adults, but I think that – for example – its just as insulting to tweens to expect them to accept that Jack and his crew agreed to work for the empire so easily as it would be to spend the book lecturing at them about the evils of empires.  (And, like I so often do with books like these, I kept wishing we were reading Jack or Ssil’s story rather than Art’s.)

That said, I know a lot of people enjoyed this book and I can definitely see many older tweens getting really into it.

Best for ages 10-14

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Life As We Knew It

Pfeffer, S. (2006) Life As We Knew It. San Diego, CA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt




Miranda Evans tries her best to avoid looking at the moon. It’s too strong a reminder of what has changed, and not for the better.  When a massive meteor hits the moon, this sixteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down.  She’s still alive, though – so far – which makes her of the lucky ones.


Pfeffer’s portrayal of an apocalyptic earth is often engaging and extremely realistic.  However, unfortunately for readers, starvation is not the most exciting crisis to read about, no matter how likely an event.  This is not a terribly hopeful book, but it is thought provoking and worth reading.


While the seriousness of the topic suggests this title as being for teens and up, I would actually say it works best as a tween novel.  I rather think most older teens would find Miranda’s lack of curiosity about, for example, the political state of the world, to be rather odd and juvenile.  (Although I may be projecting there.)  Older children and very new teens, however, are more likely to find the grim possibilities presented in the book to be a new and mature take on a popular sub-genre.  Best for 10 to 14.

Awards and Reviews:

ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2007)

ALA Teens Top Ten (2007)