Once when I was very little, I got press-ganged (they called it ‘being part of the Brownies’ and ‘community action’ but honestly, press-ganged) into helping clean up the local station. Can you imagine the sight? A gang of four foot nothing children in brown outfits depressedly cleaning windows. Amazing. A hundred years ago, and I’m still not quite over it. However the point of this anecdote is to tell you that I imagine I would have found it a LOT more fun, if I could have read these books beforehand. The Adventures On Train series absolutely sing with train-based excitement….)
Kidnap on the California Comet by M.G. Leonard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There’s a lot to love in Kidnap on the California Comet. It’s a richly adventurous sequel to The Highland Falcon Thief and I enjoyed every inch of it. This series is starting to have such a gorgeous texture; it reads like a little bit like Agatha Christie, a little bit like an older Famous Five (but with a damn sight more nuance and tact), and a little bit ‘let’s all just go on an adventure’ and I love it. It’s a really strong series and the quality of it is marked: these are excellent stories, well told, and I rather love that. Good books, done good.
So! It’s a sequel, yes, but Kidnap on the California Comet is infinitely accessible as a standalone novel which is – again – another mark in the authors favour. It’s really important to make every entrance point to a series as accessible and as readable as you can, otherwise you lock readers out and I am not here for a series that does that. Leonard and Sedgman use structure as their friend here – we go somewhere, something happens, we return – and I love their confidence with it. It’s a pattern that has worked for a long time in children’s lit and it works, especially when it’s in such good hands. The authors pull absolutely everyone they can along with them on the journey. No passengers left behind. Adventures for everyone!
A quick note of recognition as well for Elisa Paganelli’s delightfully vibrant illustrations. She has a quickness of line and a lightness of touch that really captures the moment. Her artwork is lived, immediate, real – it’s such an important part of these books. The whole package is just so good.
My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.
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