This trilogy is one of the greatest steampunk series ever written. It is hilarious, exciting, and utterly safe for children (as long as they’re not too phobic about insects, I suppose). Each book stands alone, although if you read them out of order there are some spoilers.
Art Mumby is a perfectly ordinary twelve-year old boy of the 1800s who lives in a rambling house that orbits the moon. He loves Queen Victoria and all she stands for, and hates his older sister Myrtle. Britain has conquered most of the galaxy (at least on paper) – Huzzah! – and all is well with the universe. Unfortunately certain dastardly villains appear, and at one stage or another the entire family is eaten, imprisoned, captured by pirates, or all of the above.
The characters are like the children in The Chronicles of Narnia, in that they honestly feel like children – who just happen to be involved in battles and high adventure and to have altercations with all manner of thrilling beasties - but without being annoying. Much of the humour comes from Art’s unfailing belief in British pluck and superiority – which of course suits the “punk” in “steampunk” down to the ground. You can even take it as a comment on modern imperialism, if you want to – or you can just giggle until the other people on the bus give you funny looks.
I can’t recommend these books highly enough – for any age. The illustrations by David Wyatt are brilliant, too.
Free sample (after the children have crash-landed on the moon and noticed a flock of lunar snails being herded by a mushroom shepherd):
Myrtle, being the eldest, decided to take charge. She bounced up to the snailherd and said loudly and clearly, ‘Excuse me, my good fungus, we have been shipwrecked on your horrid planet. Please direct us to the residence of the British Governor.’
Rating: G (unless you have a child who’s unusually phobic of insects)
Warning: Philip Reeve's "Mortal Engines" quartet is also brilliant, but definitely NOT child-friendly.