For her eleventh birthday Kate decides to write to her unknown, but very rich, Uncle Herbert and ask him if she could have a birthday present. What she did not expect was the arrival of a vast lorry, carrying an enormous old steam engine. Not only that, but also her Uncle and a load of workmen who lay rail track in her back garden; however, her parents are not at all happy and say she can only keep it on a temporary basis. What Kate, her brother Tom and even their uncle did not envisage was that the engine would start to work all by itself. The consequences take the two children on the adventure of a lifetime; where they meet and help a variety of animals, all of whom are endangered species.
Whilst this is a brilliantly exciting adventure story, full of magic, it is also a very salient look at the state of endangered animals. The situation for the Pangolin was heart breaking and really brings the message home. The author has taken an ordinary world and added an extremely imaginative way of describing how animals need our help and how we have affected them and their habitats over the millennia. The work of the illustrator really brings the story alive and she has given a great deal of character to the black and white illustrations. Another underlying theme is the relationship between the children and their parents. It seems to epitomize the situation that many families find themselves in, where the parents work very hard and have little time for the children, even though that is the most precious thing we can give to a child. I am very hopeful that we will see more adventures for Kate and the Silver Arrow and that they are able to help even more animals in need of support. This is a heart-warming story for MG age range.