Kelpies for Christmas
On the hunt for the ideal Kelpie to gift at Christmas this year? The season has well and truly landed here at Kelpies HQ (the tree’s up and everything), and if you’re anything like us you’ve still got more buying to do than you’d like to admit.
Fear not, though – the Kelpies team is here to help! We’ve put together our very own top Christmas picks for 2018 to help ease you through the rest of your shopping and soothe your seasonal stress. You can thank us later!
Top-Secret Grandad and Me: Death by Soup – David MacPhail & Laura Aviñó
Recommended by Leah McDowell – Art & Production Director
If the title of MacPhail’s comedic murder mystery doesn’t intrigue you, then Aviñó’s hilarious illustrations will! This book will have you laughing your noodle off.
An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales – Theresa Breslin & Kate Leiper
Recommended by Kirsten Graham – Sales & Marketing Executive
The only thing better than a good fairy tale is a good fairy tale accompanied by Kate Leiper’s stunning artwork. This is a book that will take pride of place on your children’s bookshelves for many years to come!
The Elsewhere Emporium – Ross MacKenzie
Recommended by Jennie Skinner – Assistant Editor
With spectacular dark magic and fantastical twists and turns, this dazzling sequel to The Nowhere Emporium will pull you into a world so full of wonders you won’t ever want to leave. Pure magic!
Wee Granny’s Magic Bag and the Pirates – Elizabeth McKay & Maria Bogade
Recommended by Elaine Reid – Community Marketing Manager
Your granny always seems to have exactly what you need in her bag, but this Wee Granny’s bag is better still; it’s magic! An exciting adventure awaits with pirates and treasure ahead. This story will keep wee ones (and big ones!) entertained to the end.
Three Craws – Melanie Mitchell
Recommended by Karyn McMurray – Editor
Kids will love cuddling up on your knee and singing along to this adorable version of much-loved Scots rhyme Three Craws. With delightful illustrations and lots of flaps to lift, this is a wonderful book to share.
Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Pet Show Show-Off – Alan Dapré & Yuliya Somina
Recommended by Suzanne Kennedy – Deputy Sales & Marketing Director
You can never have enough Porridge in your life and given my children’s desire for a pet (not getting) I’m going to plump for Porridge’s latest adventure: Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Pet Show Show-Off. Puns a-plenty mean bedtime snorts and giggles.
Museum Mystery Squad and the Case of the Vanishing Viking – Mike Nicholson & Mike Phillips
Recommended by Eleanor Collins – Editorial Director
Everyone loves a good mystery, especially with a Nordic twist, and this one includes jokes and fun activities! Museum Mystery Squad and the Case of the Vanishing Viking is a fab gift for any 6-to-9-year-old detectives.
Isla and Pickle: The Highland Show – Kate McLelland
Recommended by Ali Begg – Sales & Marketing Assistant
Ideal for younger children (particularly pony fans and mini equestrians) this super-cute story sees Isla and her best friend, Pickle the Shetland pony, try their luck at the Highland Show’s Perfect Pony competition! Full of fun, colourful illustrations and giggles aplenty, it will delight wee ones aged 2 to 5.
The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster – Lari Don & Nataša Ilinčić
Recommended by Chani McBain – Sales & Marketing Director
There’s nothing better than sharing a Scottish legend on a cold winter’s evening. And there is no better Scottish legend than that of the famous Loch Ness Monster. Stunning illustrations of the fabulous beast meld with lyrical words to create a perfect story for sharing.
Rowan the Red Squirrel – Lynne Rickards & Jon Mitchell
Recommended by Richard Wainman – Designer
Rowan the red squirrel and his little sister Hazel have left their drey to explore for the very first time. But there are dangers out there in the world – will they be brave enough to find their way home? A charming rhyming tale, beautiful illustrations of the Scottish landscape – and of course two adorable baby squirrels – make this a lovely Christmas gift for younger readers.
Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon – Robert J. Harris
Recommended by Jenny Skivington– Junior Designer
All the mystery and adventure of Sherlock Holmes – but for kids! Follow a young Arthur Conan Doyle (and his friend Ham) on their adventures through 19th century Edinburgh. Ideal for readers aged 18 – 12.
The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle – Victoria Williamson
Recommended by Sally Polson – Editorial Director
Book-loving readers of 10+ will be swept up by the uplifting, moving story of Caylin, a bully on a Glasgow council estate, and Reema, a Syrian refugee. This extraordinary debut from Victoria Williamson launches a talented new voice in children’s fiction.
Need more ideas?
Isla & Pickle Activity Pack
Get to know our favourite Shetland pony with some creative and crafty activities.
Dive in this summer with the Isla & Pickle Summer Fun Activity Book! Created by Kate McLelland to accompany the Isla & Pickle picture books, Kate’s activity pack is free and easy to download. You can learn how to draw Pickle the pony, with colouring in, maze searches, maths puzzles and more fun things to do over the summer holidays.
How to Draw Pickle
Find out how Kate draws the cheeky Shetland pony in this fantastic video! Kate shows you how she starts by building up basic shapes, then uses this as a guide to create a fully-formed Pickle!
Missed the Isla & Pickle blog tour action? Fear not! Read our latest #FlorisDesign interview here. Kate shares her love of folk music, ice cream, her sister and explains why Pickle really is the perfect pony.
About Isla & Pickle
Isla & Pickle: The Highland Show is the second picture book in a new series about a feisty little girl, a cheeky Shetland pony and their adventures. Led by Pickle the pony, they get up to all sorts of mischief. Pickle loves escaping from his field and getting very messy! Perfect for any children with a penchant for ponies, this book is full of fun in the great outdoors. Bright, humorous illustrations are sure to make grown-ups smile and give wee ones the giggles.
About the Author
Kate McLelland is an accomplished illustrator and printmaker. She trained in illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. She is the illustrator of bestselling picture book There Was a Wee Lassie Who Swallowed a Midgie and the My First Scottish board book collection.
Join #PickleOnTour with Kate McLelland
It’s official – our favourite Shetland pony is back! Today is the first stop on Kate McLelland’s blog tour, which is celebrating the return of Isla and her adorable miniature Shetland pony, Pickle, to our bookshelves in a brand new adventure – Isla & Pickle: the Highland Show. In today’s interview Kate chats about how she loves folk music, ice cream, her sister and why Pickle really is the perfect pony!
Hi Kate – thanks for visiting our blog today. We’re delighted to be reunited with Isla and Pickle on a brand new adventure. Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration behind the new story?
The idea of a talent show or best in show was something I really wanted to explore with Isla and Pickle. Isla is so proud to be Pickle’s best friend and she thinks of him as the best pony in the world – but will everyone else see it the same way? Most of us have taken part in competitions and it’s just as important to learn how to lose as it is to win. My children have just had sports day, so it’s something we have been talking about at home. Also, for me, being kind and being a great friend are two of the best qualities anyone can have and I wanted Isla and Pickle to get this message across, whilst not taking themselves too seriously!
We’ve heard that Pickle is inspired by someone close to you. Any clues who that might be?
Pickle is my pet name for my little sister Emma. I say little, she is in fact only 3 years younger than me and works in London. Emma has been my best friend since we were young children, although I wasn’t keen on her for the first 2 years! Just like Pickle, Emma is kind, fun, cheeky and loyal . . . in fact the best friend anyone could wish for. She also inspired Pickle’s long unruly blonde hair!
PS – my sister is finally happy to be compared to a Shetland pony!
We love the Highland Show setting! Have you been to a Highland Show before?
I have been to a few smaller shows as well as The Royal Highland Show. I think they are absolutely wonderful. They celebrate Scottish rural culture and provide hours of fun for every age. Last year we visited with my sister (aka Pickle) and my two children. They loved climbing the tractors and counting sheep, the Scottish dairy ice cream and dancing to folk music. I tried to put all the things we love about highland shows in this book – my greatest highlight being the highland cows!
We love the different textures you create in your artwork. Can you tell us a bit more about how you achieve these effects?
I have always loved printmaking, everything from screen printing and wood block to carving little rubber stamps. So I will create textures and details through printmaking as well as using rubbings from rocks, trees, leaves etc and then I combine all of these textures digitally to create a final composition.
What was the best thing about revisiting Isla & Pickle?
Long walks in the countryside and putting on my folk music all day – because I HAD to feel inspired (at least that is what I told my family). I also looked through the family photos of the Skye holidays.
What is it about the Isle of Skye, and Shetland ponies, you love so much?
Skye was our annual family holiday. Sometimes we visited with friends and sometimes with family. There was no technology and car room dictated only a few toys – we mostly brought our sketchbooks and pencils. So, for a week we would be cut off from the world in a magical, dramatic, awe-inspiring setting. Even as an adult, whenever I go I feel a little lighter, freer and more creative.
We currently live just outside of Edinburgh near to several fields which are home to Shetland ponies. I have watched my kids chat to them and wave to them daily. Shetlands are notoriously grumpy – which is hilarious because they are adorable to look at! However, I have had the pleasure to spend a few days with Shetland ponies and their owners and they were gorgeous. Their characters remind me of toddlers and young children, which makes them so much fun to illustrate.
What was the main challenge you faced whilst working on Book 2?
I hope that my work evolves and ultimately improves over time – but consistency is key when working on a book series. So, sometimes I had an idea for how to create a particular spread and then it jarred with the previous book. I had to keep comparing the artwork to make sure I was being true to Isla and Pickle.
He doesn’t win the competition, but in your eyes is Pickle the perfect pony?
Without a doubt! Although I was lucky enough to have to have my sister, we both longed for an animal. I loved horses and ponies so Pickle would have been a dream. Also, if I was to get a pet for my kids I would value a kind nature above shiny fur any day!
Finally, if you had one tip for illustrators working on a series what would it be?
I think the characters are the most important. All the characters in Isla & Pickle have a back story and they feel a little like friends. I didn’t consciously set out to do that, but the more I thought about Isla and Pickle’s home and their life on the island, the more filled-out everything became. If the story isn’t the illustrator’s own, I still think getting the characters right is the starting point. Beyond this is consistency again, making sure the books in the series relate and work with each other visually.
Thanks for joining the first stop on the #PickleOnTour Blog Tour! Stay tuned for more blog tour action, book chat and surprises this week with Kate as she visits some of our favourite picture book bloggers.
About the Book
Isla and Pickle: The Highland Show is the second picture book in a new series about a feisty little girl, a cheeky Shetland pony and their adventures. They live on a Scottish island where they get up to all sorts of mischief, led by Pickle the pony, who enjoys escaping from his field and getting very messy! Perfect for any children with a penchant for ponies, this book is full of fun in the great outdoors, with bright, humourous illustrations that are sure to make grown-ups smile and give wee ones the giggles.
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?
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?
About the books
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 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!
“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
Isla 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Isla and Pickle is available now.
Our Favourite Feisty Females!
We’re really lucky here at Kelpies HQ. We get to work with loads of amazing and inspiring women both in reality and in the worlds created by our authors! So, since it’s International Women’s Day, we thought we’d share some of our favourite feisty female characters with you! Is your favourite on our list? If not, tell us on Facebook or Twitter. After all, the more the merrier when it comes to inspiring women!
Who doesn’t love the ginger-haired, tartan-kilted Wee Lassie, with an appetite to rival any man, woman or child? Beautifully illustrated by another feisty female, Kate McLelland, we reckon Wee Lassie’s strong stomach and can-do attitude make her a great role model for wee lassies everywhere!
Proving to the world that you don’t have to be young to be feisty, the wonderful Wee Granny has an answer for everything in her magic bag. Whether you need a phone box, a cooker, or a ceilidh band, Wee Granny will be sure to sort you out!
If ever there was a woman in a man’s world, it’s Velda the Viking from David MacPhail’s Thorfinn series. She’s rough, tough, and can throw an axe better than any of the boys. Velda is the very definition of “fierce”, and she is definitely a woman you do not want to mess with!
Star of Lindsay Littleson’s Kelpies Prize winning The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean (and the fantastic sequel, The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean), Lily is just an ordinary girl, with some extraordinary problems. She’s a reminder that everyone can be strong and everyone can overcome the hardships they face. (P.S. If you know a Jacqueline Wilson fan who hasn’t met Lily yet, buy them this book!)
“Are you brave?” she asks her co-star Kirby, before proceeding to perform various acts of world-saving magic. Girls, go forth and be like Amelia. Be brave!
The hero of Lari Don’s Spellchasers trilogy, Molly is clever, funny and fiercely loyal. Despite the fact that she now turns into a hare at inconvenient moments, she still puts her friends first (even a certain kelpie who doesn’t always appreciate it…)
A special mention also has to go to another member of the Spellchasers team. Beth is a dryad (or tree spirit) who will do anything and everything to protect her forest. And she has the Best. Hair. Ever.
‘My First Scottish…’ – from brainwave to book
Have you ever wondered how a board book is created? Perhaps not! After all, it can’t be that difficult to make a board book, can it?
We caught up with Kate McLelland, creator of the My First Scottish… series of board books to find out more. Kate is well aware of how complicated board books can be, as she creates all the artwork for these books, as well as writing the words. She was kind enough to give us an insight into her creative process, moving from a black and white drawing to finished book pages.
Illustrating Nessie for My First Scottish Opposites
by Kate McLelland
I think I fall into the category ‘mixed media artist’, as I like to use lots of different materials to make my artwork. I am going to show the various steps used to create one of my final pieces from My First Scottish Opposites, the Big and Small spread.
First, I draw and sketch my ideas, sometimes this happens in my journal, but more often on the nearest piece of white paper!
Once I have decided on a composition I do a block colour version. I find this is helpful when showing roughs to publishers. My work is always colourful and, without it, is is hard to get an idea of what it will look like.
After the final layout is signed off I get to work on textures – one of my favourite parts of a project. I use so many different techniques to create textures, it would be difficult to list them. I have monoprinted a jumper and taken crayon rubbing from a busy pavement. If I see one I like, I try to collect it!
Now I scan all artwork and do the final work in Photoshop. This is so useful for making sure everything is how I want it before sending final artwork to the publisher.
Find out more
My First Scottish Opposites and My First Scottish Weather are part of Kate McLelland’s colourful and lively series of board books. More titles in the series feature Numbers, Colours, Animals, and Things That Go, all with a Scottish twist.
Edinburgh International Book Festival 2016
It’s summer (well, Scottish summer!) here in Edinburgh, which means it’s almost time for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Lots of our Kelpies authors and illustrators are taking part in events throughout the festival – read on to find out who you shouldn’t miss!
Saturday 13th August
Come along for tales of myth and magic through time! Celebrating the launch of her new Spellchasers trilogy, Lari Don joins Linda Davies (author of Longbow Girl) to talk about magic, adventure, and strong female heroines. Suitable for age 9-12.
Sunday 14th August
Join Lindsay Littleson and Jo Cotterill (author of A Library of Lemons) for two touching tales of family and friendship. Lindsay will talk about her Kelpies Prize-winning book The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean, where life takes a very weird turn for Lily. Suitable for age 9-12.
Monday 15th August
In Shadowsmith, by Blue Peter Award-winning Ross MacKenzie, the malevolent spirits of three long-dead witches attack a sleepy, seaside town. Ross teams up with Robin Jarvis (The Power of Dark) to talk about their spine-tingling tales. Suitable for age 10-14.
Tuesday 16th August
At her second appearance at the book festival, Lari shares her gripping retelling of the classic Scottish tale of the kelpie, called The Secret of the Kelpie. Can young Flora discover the secret before it’s too late? Suitable for age 6+.
Friday 19th August
Scottish Beasties with Kate McLelland [SOLD OUT]
Kate McLelland and Rebecca Colby‘s There Was a Wee Lassie Who Swallowed a Midgie featured a host of Scottish creatures in a humorous twist on a much-loved rhyme. Now Kate’s back with more colourful pictures, introducing wee ones to animals and numbers in a uniquely Scottish way. Learn to draw your favourite beastie in this interactive event. Suitable for age 3-6. Tickets admit 1 child and 1 accompanying adult.
Buy tickets here SOLD OUT