Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

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It may not surprise you to learn that I am a huge Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell fan. I was very excited to spend an evening listening to them in conversation with the whip smart Lauren Laverne talking about why Art Matters, and get my mits on their newest collaboration.

At the end of the evening there was an auction for a piece of their work, and a series of smaller lots, in support of EnglishPEN - a freedom of speech charity that helps writers all around the world who’ve been punished for their words in horrific ways. I am delighted to say that I won that auction and this glorious picture is now hanging above the piano in my study.

The whole evening was fantastic and thanks to the wonders of modern technology you can watch it on the video below. If you want to see the auction, it’s at 1hr and 40 mins, towards the end. It was joyously dramatic and something I’ll remember forever.

The Beetle Collector's Handbook is published this week!

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If you live in the UK and wander into a bookshop you will be able to get your hands on my newest book, The Beetle Collector's Handbook. I am so proud of this book. It is illustrated by the amazing Carim Nahaboo and has a strong ecology message. I've made it as funny and astonishing as possible, as well as including the most amazing facts about beetles.

This is a stand alone non-fiction book about beetles, featuring sixty of the most fantastic beetles on planet earth and plenty of advice on how to keep a nature journal and plan your own expedition. It is also a companion volume to my fiction trilogy as all the beetles in this book also feature in the trilogy and this book is annotated by a few of the key characters from the trilogy.

To give you an insight into what the book is like, I have made this little video for you, reading the introduction and staring my pet beetles Beatrice and Barty.

Edinburgh Book Festival 2018

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The Edinburgh Book Festival is one of my favourite festivals, but this year it was particularly special because my brand new book The Beetle Collector's Handbook was made exclusively available to attendees. It was so wonderful to see Beetle Boys and Beetle Girls clutching the book. It is a non-fiction book and a companion to the fiction trilogy with annotations from the characters. I'm very proud of it, and it completes the series beautifully, with a message about habitat preservation and the importance of learning about the environment and in particular, invertebrates.

Here is a gallery of photos from the festival. One of the highlights of coming to Scotland is that I get to do events with Callum from Cool Creatures and he always brings the most amazing live beetles for children to meet.

M. G. Leonard in Friends of Countryfile exhibition at Countryfile Live

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Countryfile Live is always such a wonderful show. I was very proud to be asked to be a Friend of CountryFile and part of their anniversary exhibition of passionate people sharing their experiences of appearing on the show. They included Carim Nahaboo's excellent beetle illustrations that featured in the program, and we both are very happy to be flying the flag for beetles at Countryfile Live.

Beetle Boy shortlisted for Top Ten Children's Books of the Year in CHINA

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Beetle Boy has been selected as one of one hundred children's books competing to be in the Top Ten Children's Books of the Year in China. Beetle Boy is listed in the 'Children's Literature' category along with 39 other titles.

Through-out the next three months, titles will be read by families and children, who will vote for their favourites and the winners will be announced in November 2018.

I am beyond delighted that Beetle Boy is on this list. It is a great honour that I would never have dreamed of. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

You can read all about it here.

Another chance to watch the BBC documentary The Bug Couple

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The BBC have repeated their great 30 minute documentary about Dr Sarah Beynon (scientific consultant to the Beetle Boy books) and Andy Holcroft's (bug chef extraordinaire) mission to get the UK eating bugs - The Bug Couple.

My 2017 Hay Festival event with Sarah and Andy was filmed for the documentary and features in the film. We got the audience munching insects. If you were there, you might spot yourself eating a cricket cookie.

Watch on the iPlayer

M. G. Leonard to write Adventures on Trains with Sam Sedgman

 Me and my co-author Sam Sedgman at the National Rail Museum in York

Me and my co-author Sam Sedgman at the National Rail Museum in York

I've got some super-dooper mega huge news!

I've been keeping this under wraps for a while, but my next book series will be about trains and because I don't know that much about them, I've persuaded the talented and lovely Sam Sedgman to write them with me.

Sam is a playwright and digital producer that I worked with at the National Theatre. He's obsessed with mysteries and railways, which will come in handy when we are creating our adventures on trains for you to read.

I'm very excited about these books. They will be published by Macmillan in 2020 and are going to be epic!

The books will follow 11-year-old Harrison Beck and his uncle, travel writer Nathaniel Bradshaw, as they travel the great railways of the world and encounter all manner of mysteries and adventures. The first book, The Highland Falcon, follows Harrison and Uncle Nat on board the last journey of the royal steam train. Among the passengers are aristocrats, actors and businessmen... and a very clever jewel thief.

READ MORE

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M. G. Leonard has a Bug Hunt on BBC1's Countryfile

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I've done quite a bit of tele, but the bug hunt with Ellie Harrison on Countryfile must be one of my favourite pieces. It was a beautiful day, and the lupin field was a heavenly place full of fascinating bugs. I was in my element, and I'm delighted with the way the show turned out.

I was also pleased that they included some of the wonderful illustrations that Carim Nahaboo has done for The Beetle Collector's Handbook, published in September. You get a sneak peak at how marvellous they are.

You can watch it on the iplayer on catch-up for the next month.

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M. G. Leonard tells Sky News about the Phantom Midges at the World Cup

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Did you catch me on Sky News? It was the hot and humid day after England won their first match in the World Cup and so I arrived at the studio with my hair all in a frizz and was asked if I could talk about the Phantom Midges that were annoying the football players. I'm the first to hold up my hand when I don't know about something, but whilst I was in hair and makeup, I was allowed to phone a friend. Luckily Max Barclay from the Natural History Museum was on the other the other end of the telephone and he told me all about what wonderful creatures Phantom Midges are, so I only managed to squeeze a sentence or two in about beetles, but I did get to big up National Insect Week on the news, so job done. Weird hair though, eh? I won't be letting anyone give me a central parting again that's for sure.

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National Insect Week 2018

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I was absolutely honoured to be invited by the Royal Entomological Society to be a part of launching National Insect Week 2018 at RHS Wisley this week. It was a wonderful occasion and I go the opportunity to finally meet Carim Nahaboo the talented illustrator who I've worked with on my non-fiction book The Beetle Collector's Handbook, which is published in the UK in September by Scholastic.

There were speeches, and wonderful artwork by Carim, the oppertunity to eat bugs (yummy) and see some of my favourite entos. I was even given a present by the delightful Chris Jeffs, a stag beetle from Indonesia to add to my collection.

I'm so proud to be a part of this initiative. If you want to find out about Bug related fun for National Insect Week happening near you there's information here. The celebration doesn't last just a week you know, it lasts a lifetime.

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Beetle Boy Trilogy Optioned For TV - Screenplay will be written by M. G. Leonard

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I have some very exciting news. I am delighted to be able to announce that my beetle books have been optioned for TV. And, even better than the news that they will be coming to your home screens in the near future, is that I am the screenwriter on the project. I will be ensuring all your favourite characters, both human and coleopteran, burst onto your screen in true dramatic style, like they do in the stories.

I am so excited about the production team on this project.

Watch this space for news and further updates.

Bring on the BEETLEMANIA!

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