Iris has a wish. She wants, just once, to stand in the cab of the Flying Scotsman, the great steam locomotive her father drives. Every birthday she is taken to the station where she sees her father standing proudly beside the engine as the steam builds up and the train finally sets of on its journey north. She longs for more – will her wish ever be granted?
Morpurgo has just the right voice for this real-life story as he captures the longing, the excitement, even the disappointments of Iris. This is no fantasy. The Flying Scotsman was indeed an iconic locomotive all its working life and remains a star in retirement. Children who will never experience travel behind a real steam locomotive – the noise, the rhythm of the wheals, the smoke – nevertheless are fascinated by such engines as can be seen by the continuing popularity of Thomas and his friends. Foreman’s illustrations are as grounded as the storyteller’s voice bringing the period and the Flying Scotsman to life in lively vignettes adding colour and atmosphere to every page. For the young with curious minds there is a fact file including satisfying statics as well as added history, while the covers open and close with the schematic of the engine itself. Whether a steam enthusiast or not this is a lively enjoyable glimpse of history.