The Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine

The Painted Dragon book

We'd like to introduce you to children's author Katherine Woodfine. Apply for your child's free copy of The Painted Dragon, the latest in The Sinclair's Mysteries series, and see what advice Katherine has for budding writers below.

About the book

When a priceless painting is stolen, our dauntless heroines Sophie and Lil find themselves faced with forgery, trickery and deceit on all sides.

Be amazed as the brave duo pit their wits against this perilous puzzle. Marvel at their cunning plan to unmask the villain and prove themselves to be detectives to be reckoned with – no matter what dangers lie ahead. It's their most perilous adventure yet!

The Painted Dragon is a fast-paced historical mystery adventure with gorgeous Edwardian period detail. Aimed at readers aged 9+, the book is perfect for fans of Chris Riddell's Goth Girl series, Enid Blyton and Robin Stevens's Murder Most Unladylike series.

Praise for The Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

“A wonderful book, with a glorious heroine and a true spirit of adventure.” – Katherine Rundell, author of Rooftoppers

“A real page-turner, it has murders, spies and gangs of thieves. Thrilling!” – Indiana, aged 10 years, Lovereading4kids reviewer

“Dastardliness on a big scale is uncovered in this well-plotted, evocative novel.” – Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times

About the author

Katherine Woodfine

Katherine Woodfine is a true champion of children's literature. Until 2015 she was Arts Project Manager for Booktrust, where she project-managed the Children's Laureateship and YALC, the UK's first Young Adult Literature Convention, curated by Malorie Blackman. She is part of the founding team at Down the Rabbit Hole, a monthly show for Resonance FM discussing children's literature. Katherine blogs at She lives in London.

Meet Katherine Woodfine

Can you tell us about your book?

The Painted Dragon is the third book in the Sinclair's Mysteries series, which is set in and around a glamorous Edwardian department store – it's Mr Selfridge meets Nancy Drew! In this new story, our dauntless young detectives Sophie and Lil set out on the trail of a valuable painting that has been stolen from the store where they work – and they and their friends soon find themselves in danger… 

Do you have any writing rituals or habits?

I try to avoid writing rituals on the whole – I think it can be a bit dangerous to get into the idea that you can only write while wearing one particular 'writing jumper' or if you have exactly the right candle burning!

Having said that, I do have a few habits. I am definitely a morning person, and that's when I tend to do most of my writing. And I will admit that somehow writing always seems to go more smoothly when there's a tasty snack to hand…

Could you describe the room that you write in?

I write in lots of different places – sometimes in cafes, sometimes in the British Library, sometimes at home. I live in a small flat in central London so there isn't a lot of room for a workspace, but I've managed to squeeze a desk into the bedroom and I have a board where I can pin up lots of images that inspire me. 

What are you reading now?

I usually have a few books on the go – at the moment, on my bedside table, I have A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, 1913: The Year Before the Storm by Florian Illies, and an old favourite, The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson.

What is your favourite children’s book?

There are so many children’s books that I love – it's so difficult to choose a favourite! However, one book that I always find myself coming back to is The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

What is the last book you bought someone as a gift?

My nephew has just turned three, so most recently I've put together a stack of lovely picture books for his birthday, including books by Chris Haughton, Nadia Shireen and Oliver Jeffers.

'Don't get it right, get it written' is something that I often tell myself.

What advice would you offer aspiring writers/ illustrators?

First and foremost, read as much as you can. Read widely – you never know where an idea may come from – but also, get to know your own field. If you want to write children's books, read as many as you can, read reviews, go to bookshops and libraries and see what's on display. It really helps to know the landscape, what's out there, and what other authors and illustrators are doing.

Secondly, keep going even when it's tough! 'Don't get it right, get it written' is something that I often tell myself. There are always moments when you'll feel a project is terrible and want to throw it all in the bin. But don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You can always make it better later – but you have to get it down on paper first!

Katherine Woodfine backlist

The Painted Dragon is the third installment in The Sinclair's Mysteries quartet. The other two books are the bestselling The Clockwork Sparrow, and The Jewelled Moth. The final book will be published this autumn.

Book giveaway

To apply to win one of 50 copies of The Painted Dragon, simply fill out the form below by end of day, Monday 13 February.

We ask all winners to share their child's thoughts on the book on the discussion thread. We encourage anyone else who has read The Painted Dragon to also get involved. Everyone who posts their detailed feedback by midday on 27 March will be entered into a draw to win a £100 Love2shop voucher.

This giveaway is sponsored by Egmont