Review, Giveaway & Author Blog: The Highland Falcon Thief

BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations

All aboard! Today marks the publication of the Highland Falcon Thief, the first in an adventures-on-trains series by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman.

Read on for a review of The Highland Falcon Thief, an exclusive guest post by author M.G.Leonard, in which she discusses the inspiration behind the story, and details of a giveaway to win a copy of the book. Be sure to also check out Sam Sedgman's Top 5 Train Books too!

Book Title: The Highland Falcon Thief (available here)

Authors: M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman

Illustrator: Elisa Paganelli

Publisher: Macmillan Children's

Publication Date: January 2020


A full-steam-ahead adventure that had me hooked from the get-go. The Highland Falcon Thief is a middle-grade mystery story set on a steam train. With a high spirit of adventuring and a good-and-proper mystery that unfolds with clues and red-herrings along the course, this is a brilliantly fun story that is sure to be on track to find itself set among the very best in the children’s mystery genre.

Harrison Beck (Hal) ends up aboard the last ever journey of a famous royal steam train ‘The Highland Falcon’, unwillingly accompanying his travel-writer uncle while his parents are occupied in hospital having a new baby. Hal doesn’t think much of steam trains - and he is even less impressed when he finds there are no other child passengers on board and no electricity to charge his devices. Before long, Hal finds himself caught up with entertainment of a more old-fashioned kind. A mystery begins to unravel among the passengers - with valuable items disappearing including the princess’s diamond necklace - and Hal begins to record what he notices in his sketch book. What’s more, Hal befriends a secret stowaway girl called Lenny and the pair set to work to solve the mystery before The Highland Falcon reaches the end of its last ever journey.

It’s a full-throttle mystery with likeable characters and a well-paced plot that is especially full of treasures for anyone who loves trains. I’m not particularly a locomotive lover myself but really the joy of being on board one came across with such a passion that I think I may have gained a new-found appreciation!

You can order The highland Falcon Thief online or from your local bookshop or library.

Also featured on:

Spring 2020 Ones to Watch

Guest Post

by M.G. Leonard, author of The Highland Falcon Thief

What inspired The Highland Falcon Thief?

My sons loved Thomas the Tank Engine and all train-related toys and books. Their vocabulary is rich with railway terms, but, when it was time for them to read by themselves, I couldn’t find contemporary chapter-books that would turn this passion for trains into a love of reading. After my Battle of the Beetles books, I wanted to write stories for children who love locomotives, but I didn’t know the first thing about trains. I’d spent six years researching beetles and didn’t fancy the idea of doing it again. One evening, I told my friend Sam Sedgman about my idea because I knew he was a fan of railway maps and the London Underground. He became excited about what tales I might concoct, spouting wonderful suggestions because he’s an aficionado of mysteries. I immediately knew we should write Adventures on Trains together, and when I suggested it, he, rather wonderfully, agreed.

We decided that we wanted each adventure to take place on a special train in a different country, so that the series was a kind of travel writing for kids. We instinctively knew that the first book should take place in the United Kingdom on a steam train, and so Sam took me to the Railway Museum in York to show me the wonder of British trains. We fell in love with the Mallard, which is an A4 Pacific (the inspiration for our Highland Falcon) and we saw the exhibition of the royal carriages dating back to Queen Victoria. We came away from our visit with the idea of a jewel heist on a royal train. We drew on the famous mysteries that have taken place on trains – like Murder on the Orient Express - infusing our own story with a bit of their magic and drama, and the end produce is, we hope, a delightfully detailed and exciting adventure for readers of all ages.

See also: Sam Sedgman's Top 5 Train Books


***Book Giveaway!***

Thanks to the publishers at Macmillan, we have FIVE copies of The Highland Falcon Thief to give away to our followers.

To enter, simply follow @booksfortopics on Twitter and retweet the giveaway tweet before 11.59pm Wednesday 5th Feb 2020 (T&Cs here).


Where next?

> See Sam Sedgman's Top 5 Train Books > Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub

> Browse our Topic Booklists

> View our printable year group booklists.

> See our Books of the Month.


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