Peg and Uan, and other Kelpies pets

In Peg and Uan: Making Friends, these two cute Kelpies characters meet for the first time. But did you know that the adorable Peg the Little Sheepdog and Uan the Lamb were based on illustrator Sandra Klaassen’s real pets?

Peg and Uan - Porridge the Tartan CatLots of our other Kelpies characters are pets too, so we thought we’d share some of our favourites with you!

Porridge the Tartan Cat

We all know that Porridge isn’t really a pet – he’s the boss of the McFun family and is there to lend a paw when things go wrong. He’s always getting himself into bagpipe-blasting, balloon-riding, baddie-busting adventures. But he also loves getting spoiled with a fishy biscuit or two.

Colin the hamster

As well as being a gifted acrobat, Colin the hamster is an essential member of the Museum Mystery Squad. Despite not being able to talk (or type), Colin gives Kennedy, Nabster and Laurie bright ideas to help them crack their cases. Some even think he’s the smartest member of the team!


When Isla asks her dad for a pet, he suggests a guinea pig, a goldfish and even a rabbit instead. But Isla knows that Pickle the Shetland pony would make the best pet of all. He’s great at cutting the grass, playing knights and unicorns, and even helping Isla eat up all her vegetables. Pickle isn’t just a pet, he’s a best friend.


What’s a witch without her cat? Much like Porridge, Vronsky isn’t exactly a pet – he’s the familiar for Ruby McCracken and her family. But since familiars are magical creatures, odd things can happen, especially if they have to move into the world of the Ords. (That’s the Ordinaries to you and me.) How will Vronsky cope with being tragic without magic?


Let us know your favourite Kelpies pet on Twitter or Facebook. You can find us @DiscoverKelpies!

About the books

Peg and UanPeg and Uan: Making Friends, illustrated by Sandra Klaassen, is available now.

Want to find out more about our favourite pets? You can read all about them in these Kelpies books.

Porridge the Tartan Cat cat-alogues the McFun family’s meow-nificent story in this zany series for young readers.

Join the Museum Mystery Squad as they investigate Moving Mammoths, Curious Coins and more.

Meet a feisty wee girl and her cheeky pet pony in Isla & Pickle: Best Friends.

Find out what happens to Vronsky the familiar in Ruby McCracken: Tragic Without Magic.

Win a pet portrait by Kate McLelland!

To celebrate the launch of Isla & Pickle: Best Friends, we’re giving you the chance to win a pet portrait by Kate McLelland plus a copy of this brand new book. Can you find some #PalsforPickle?

To enter, just post a picture of your pet with a Kelpies book on Twitter or Facebook, and use the tag #PalsforPickle. Entries will close on Monday 31st July, and we’ll announce the lucky winner of our prize on Monday 1st August.

The winner of our competition will receive a copy of Isla & Pickle, plus a pet portrait from a photograph you supply, created by the book’s illustrator Kate McLelland.

We can’t wait to see all of your #PalsforPickle!

Kate McLelland - pet portrait competition

“Hmm,” said Dad, “I was thinking of something a bit smaller. A rabbit, a guinea pig or maybe a goldfish?”

 “But I really love Pickle, Dad. Please?”

 Isla decided to show Dad what a wonderful pet Pickle could be.


About the book

Kate McLelland - pet portrait competitionIsla and Pickle: Best Friends is the first in a new series about a feisty little girl and her pet Shetland pony, who live on a Scottish island. Wee ones will giggle their way through Isla and Pickle’s light-hearted adventures.

Other Kelpies books illustrated by Kate McLelland include There Was a Wee Lassie Who Swallowed a Midgie and the My First Scottish… series.


Terms & Conditions

1. Entrants must post a picture of their pet with any Kelpies book by midnight on Monday 31st July 2017.
2. The winner will be chosen by Floris Books staff and Kate McLelland.
3. The winner will be announced via DiscoverKelpies social media channels on Tuesday 1st August 2017.
4. Prizes are not exchangeable.

#FlorisDesign meets Kate McLelland

From wee lassies to midgies and nessies, Kate McLelland has illustrated many Kelpies books. Now she’s launching a new picture book series about a cheeky Shetland pony and his best friend, Isla, a feisty wee girl with a penchant for ponies and yellow knitwear. In the latest #FlorisDesign interview Kate chats scallop shells, her sister and the Isle of Skye as we find out about her inspiration behind her latest book, Isla and Pickle: Best Friends.


Hi Kate, thanks for talking to us today. Firstly, could you tell us a bit about how you became a children’s book illustrator?

I have always been passionate about children’s literature and have collected picture books for years. However, every time someone suggested I start working on one I dismissed the idea, as I thought it was a fantasy job – people couldn’t possibly do that for a living. When I became pregnant with my first child, I was completing my MFA in Illustration, and decided how much I wanted to make a book for my baby. I showed the book at the degree show and was delighted and surprised people liked it. Things took off from there.

Isla and Pickle Kate McLelland

Pickle playing with Baby Harris!

Did you undertake any formal training in illustration or design?

My first degree was a BA Hons in design for stage and screen, so I learnt storyboarding, character design and set design. I think these skills have really helped with picture books. I then worked as a book designer for several years before completing my MFA. This was instrumental for my development. It was a scary process, as I had to let go of previous ways of picture making and I experimented for the best part of two years. I now appreciate how wonderful and invaluable that time was.


What was your inspiration for adorable Pickle, the Shetland pony in the book?

Well, Pickle, despite being a colt, is based on my best pal and little sister Emma. Isla and Pickle’s adventures are loosely based on our childhood adventures and our relationship. My little sister is very funny. She’s had a mop of bright blonde unruly hair since she was a toddler, something I felt important Pickle should have too! Like Pickle she is loving and kind, a little cheeky, loyal and ultimately the best friend anyone could ask for (aww).

Kate McLelland - Isla and Pickle

Isla and Pickle splashing around!


Are you an avid rider? Have you ever owned a pony like Pickle?

I was a pony mad teen at one point who loved horse riding. We lived in a rural village, surrounded by sheep, cows and horses. I always imagined living on one of the farms and looking after the animals – it is something I still think about. Now I live opposite a field of shetland ponies, and have been lucky enough to meet with owners who have shared their experiences with me. I haven’t ridden a horse for many years and wouldn’t consider owning one. I think looking after animals is not to be taken lightly and for the foreseeable future my priority is my family and work. You can dream though . . . or make a book about them!


Do you work using traditional methods or digital methods or both?

I think computers are simply a tool and I think they can benefit most artists in some way so I use both. I start with rough sketches on paper, then I scan them and play about with composition on screen – it’s such a fast way to discover if something works, or sometimes you accidentally find something that does. Once I know how I want a final piece of artwork to look I make textures and details for the page. I usually finish my bringing everything together in photoshop. An average illustration can contain stamps, paper-cutting, gouache, crayon, basically whatever I think is needed to get the effect I am after.

Isla and Pickle Kate McLelland

A helping hand in the garden…


What sorts of things do you most enjoy drawing?

If you asked me five years ago I would have said birds, four years ago it was highland coos and seals, then tigers . . . in fact for a long time animals. However, the more I draw children the more I love it. Practice is key, so I was incredibly rusty after years of only drawing animals, foliage and buildings. The most satisfying thing to draw is character, capturing personality – whether it be a Shetland Pony or a little girl. It is the hardest thing, one teeny tiny alteration and they go from puzzled to needing the toilet. I suspect I will never perfect it, but I look forward to lots of practice.


What was your inspiration behind the location and setting of Isla and Pickle?

Almost every year my family would travel from North East England to the Isle of Skye. It is one of my favourite places in the world. It has it all, dramatic mountains, peaceful glades, long beaches, little woods and babbling burns. I am so fortunate to have such happy childhood memories. When working on Isla and Pickle I think of picnics on damp tartan blankets, walking for miles in the sunshine in sloshy wellies, crossing fields trying not to get the attention of the bull and hours of combing beaches for the perfect scallop shell. Working on the book enabled me to revisit happy childhood memories and think of ways I can share them with children.

Kate McLelland Isla and Pickle

On the beach.

Do you have any tricks in your bag for when you get stuck on a brief?

Sometimes I just try, try and try again and if that fails I go for a walk on my own.


We absolutely LOVE your Isla and Pickle toys! Where are they from?

I’m really passionate about people who craft beautiful handmade toys. I approached two toymakers for Isla and Pickle. Ksenia Dunaeva made the lovely Isla Waldorf doll and Lynne, aka Laurel Designs made the adorable Pickle. I had been watching Lynne’s work for a while, she makes stunning horses and hobbyhorses.

Kate McLelland Isla and Pickle

The gorgeous Isla and Pickle replicas, by Ksenia Dunaeva and Laurel Designs.


Is working as an author/illustrator what you expected?

It is everything I had hoped for and more. It’s certainly not the best path if you are after fame and fortune, but if you love making stories and art for children, you enjoy time on your own and deciding how you manage your time, then it is the best. I am very lucky.


Do you have any author/illustrators that you consider to be your favourites?

Oh this comes up a lot and there are so many. I’m often drawn to illustrators who have a very different approach to me – that way I can admire whilst never directly comparing or falling into the trap of mimicking. I love my friend’s work, Emily MacKenzie – we worked together as book designers, she gets so much humour into her colourful characters. Helen Stephens is an incredible draftswoman and I love her children characters. Sara Ogilvie works lots of brilliants details in, you can spend a long time pouring over a single spread, all stunningly drawn as well.

Some of my all-time favourites are Beatrix Potter, who I am a proud super fan of, and Shirley Hughes – I am still reading My Naughty Little Sister stories.


About the Book

Isla and Pickle, the adorable miniature Shetland pony, are best friends. Can Isla convince Dad Pickle should be her pet? The first adventure for the cheeky pair who live on a Scottish island. Full of fun and mischief with bright, humourous illustrations.

Kate McLelland Isla and PickleIsla and Pickle is available now.