#AskAKidsEditor – Meet the editors!

On Wednesday 16 November, our editors will take to Twitter (@DiscoverKelpies) to answer your questions about writing for children. From weird submissions to writing encouragement to how children’s books might better reflect our culture, ask our editorial superheroes anything! What’s your burning question? Use #AskAKidsEditor to join in the discussion!

Don’t forget that the Kelpies Prize 2017 is now open for entries – our #AskAKidsEditor event is the perfect opportunity to find out what the judges are looking for! We’ve also updated our submission guidelines recently – we hope that the books we publish continue to reflect children’s experiences of a varied and diverse Scotland.

So, who are our editors and what makes them tick? We ventured deep into the editorial department to find out…

Eleanor, Senior Commissioning Editor

cartoon-eleanorFavourite children’s book:

My favourite picture book is Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland who brings such honesty to everything she does. For 6-8 year olds, I have always loved The Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren (in the old Puffin translation, not the new versions that try to un-Swedish the book). My favourite novel when I was 8-12 was Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.

Best bit of the editorial process:  Taking in an author’s editorial changes – the book gains a stronger shape before your eyes.

Fun fact: I have citizenship of three countries.

Sally, Senior Commissioning Editor

cartoon-sallyFavourite children’s book: My favourite picture book is The Tiger Who Came to Tea. As a child I puzzled long and hard over whether a tiger could really drink all the water in the tap! For children’s novels, Roald Dahl is still the master of comedy for me, with his wildly imaginative use of language, dark humour and mesmerising characters. My favourite children’s books to read as an adult would definitely be Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – just brilliant.

Best bit of the editorial process:  The commissioning stage. Reading a great manuscript for the first time and imagining what kind of book it will become, then sharing my excitement with the Floris team.

Fun fact: I’ve walked from Glasgow to Inverness, weighed down by a large rucksack.

Lois, Editor

cartoon-loisFavourite children’s book: My favourite picture book is After the Storm by Nick Butterworth (‘Even the squirrels were sniffy’). For middle-grade it’s Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman – it was probably the first book that made me think deeply about the world.

Best bit of the editorial process: Depends on the day of the week, but nothing beats the satisfaction of unpicking and resolving a nice juicy tangled plotline. The tanglier the better!

Fun fact: I have a cat called Augustus, who plays fetch like a dog.

Jen, Editorial Assistant

cartoon-jenFavourite children’s book: My favourite children’s book is A Necklace of Raindrops by Joan Aiken. Jan Pienkowski’s illustrations are stunning and so colourful. Each of the tales is magical and takes you to a far away land where anything is possible.

Best bit of the editorial process: My favourite part of the editing process is right at the very beginning when a new manuscript comes in. It’s exciting to sit down and read something that has massive potential and could, in future, be published by Floris. I always find it encouraging to see how imaginative writers can be in producing a really original story.

Fun Fact: I play the flugelhorn – it’s fun to say and fun to play!









Slugboy’s Slugs Have Escaped!

slug-upsetSlugboy Saves the World jacket coverYou may not have heard of Slugboy, Scotland’s worst superhero. Thanks to an unfortunately tasty-looking radioactive slug, eleven-year-old Murdo Macleod now has two pretty unique superpowers: the first is sliding up walls. Quite slowly. The second is secreting slippery slime from his skin. (Yes, just as disgusting as it sounds.)

It’s a world where superhero competition is fierce, and Slugboy is so underrated he doesn’t even make the list when an evil mastermind devises a plan to capture all the other superheroes.

Now, Slugboy has to use his not-so-super and oh-so-gross abilities to free the other superheroes and save the world.

The Great Slug Hunt

Unfortunately, Slugboy has let his collection of pet slugs get away from him. They’re causing chaos on the Kelpies website, not to mention Facebook and Twitter! We need your help to round up the last of the slugs in an epic slughunt, and there are some signed copies of Slugboy Saves the World in it for randomly selected slughunters.

If you spot a slug on our website, Facebook page, or Twitter, simply send us a screenshot on Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtag #SlugHunt (and don’t forget to follow or like us!) to be entered into the draw.

Happy slug-hunting!

Slugboy Saves the World by Mark A. Smith won the Kelpies Prize 2015 and is available now!

PS If you fancy your chances with the Kelpies Prize, you may want to join our #AskAKidsEditor Twitter chat on Wednesday 16 November. Visit our blog post for all the details.




#AskAKidsEditor – Twitter chat!

Calling all aspiring children’s authors! Join us on Twitter (@DiscoverKelpies) on Wednesday 16 November between 12pm and 2pm for your chance to ask our editors your questions about writing for children. Follow #AskAKidsEditor and join in the conversation.

What’s the weirdest submission you’ve ever received?

How important is setting in children’s writing?

Any tips for creating realistic characters from diverse backgrounds?

How long does it take to edit a children’s book?

Are children’s books doing enough to reflect our culture today?

Our team of editorial superheros will be taking over our Twitter account to answer questions like these, all in 140 characters or less!

So if you are in need of advice or inspiration, RSVP at KelpiesChat.eventbrite.co.uk, and send us your comments and questions on 16 November using #AskAKidsEditor

Updated Submission Guidelines

Here at Kelpies HQ, it’s really important to us that our books are culturally relevant to readers, and that the characters, themes and issues reflect the diverse culture of Scotland today. We hope that our newly updated submission guidelines reflect our desire to ensure greater diversity in our publishing.

The Kelpies Prize


Our annual Kelpies Prize is a great way for new children’s authors to get their voice heard, and the Kelpies Prize 2017 is now open for entries! Our #AskAKidsEditor event is a great opportunity to get some hints and tips to make sure your submission stands out.

Find out more about how to enter






Kelpies Prize 2016 – Winner Announced!

We’ve spent the last six months battling through a mountain of manuscripts, agonised over some very tough decisions, and hosted an an all singing (literally), all dancing (figuratively) award ceremony at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and now we are delighted to reveal the winner of the Kelpies Prize 2016.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Ezra, whose sassy tale about a 12-year-old witch forced to live in the Ordinary World landed the £2000 prize and a publishing deal. The World of Norm author Jonathan Meres cajoled the audience into a rousing rendition of The Sound of Music classic Climb Every Mountain, before presenting Elizabeth with her prize.

Congratulations also go to runners up Christine Laurenson and Alan McClure, who were shortlisted for The Secret of the Tammy Norrie and The Day My School Exploded (But it wasn’t My Fault) respectively.

Born in California and working at the University of Stirling, Elizabeth Ezra always loved books about witches, and when she’d read all the witch books in her local library, decided it was time to write her own. Ruby McCracken: Tragic Without Magic, is her first book for children and will be published in autumn 2017.

Kelpies Prize 2016 Winner: Ruby McCracken: Tragic Without Magic by Elizabeth Ezra

When young witch Ruby McCracken’s parents lose their jobs and can no longer pay their magic bills, they are forced to leave their sophisticated magical world and start a new life in the Ordinary World – without magic.

Ruby’s life is OVER. For one thing, she won’t be able to chat to her friends about the Hex Factor any more. And she’s absolutely STARVING because her snack spell won’t work. Also how can she get revenge on the mean girls at her boring new school without using magic?

Ruby is desperate to get her magic back and find a way home. She receives a mysterious hext that seems to offer an answer, but can she work out the riddle it contains? And who could be sending her a magical hext in this dreary ordinary world?

Want to Enter Next Year’s Prize?

Manuscripts are now invited for submission to the Kelpies Prize 2017. The deadline is 28 February 2017 and for full rules and guidelines, you can read more here.



Spellchasers: The Beginner’s Guide to Curses

Spellchasers: Beginner's Guide to Curses jacket coverYou may have heard us talking about Lari Don’s amazing Spellchasers trilogy recently, and now the first book – The Beginner’s Guide to Curses – is finally available to buy in a bookshop near you! We’re offering you the chance to win your very own copy signed by Lari Don! To be in with a chance, simply use the form below to sign up to our mailing list, and you’ll be entered into a draw to win the book.

Some of the winners of our Spellchasers competition have written reviews of The Beginner’s Guide to Curses. Here’s what they thought:

Lucy, aged 8

Very funny, really exciting adventurous book

This is a good book for boys and girls from seven to twelve years. This book is an exciting fantasy quest with a lot of twists. The characters are great and there is a super evil one. The main characters are Molly, a normal girl, Beth, a tree spirit, Innes, a kelpie and a toad. They are working together to solve the curses on themselves and their families. It is such a good book I just couldn’t put it down and I wish it was longer. I walked round the house with my nose in the book and I felt like some of the characters when I was really engrossed. Reading all of Lari Don’s books has made me love books more than ever. The end is super exciting and I can’t wait for the next one because there’s some things I want to find out.

Isobel, aged 10

Molly and others have been cursed. She needs to break the curse, but there is a decision to make: should she work with her new found friends to break all the curses put on them, or fight to break only her own curse and risk losing her only chance of freedom from this dreadful trap.

This is a great book for those who enjoy a heart-racing and mythical story. It is full of cliff hangers and exciting endings. It keeps you on edge, as well as cramming in heart-warming and terrifying parts and paragraphs!


Isabel, aged 9

Absolutely brilliant book. I found it very interesting and thrilling due to the vivid pictures the author paints in your mind. Definitely aimed towards years 5-6 (or seniors!). An exciting novel, extremely magical. The book starts when the main character, Molly Drummond, is being chased by a dog. She thinks the dog is chasing her human form! She does not know that she turns into a hare when a dog barks – she has been cursed! Following a visit to a witch she goes on a course for cursed being with a sphinx, a toad, a dryad and a kelpie. Later in the book they set off on an adventure, and eventually work together and break their curses. Or do they? I definitely recommend this book. The author has a very good imagination!

5 stars

And it’s not just young readers who are enjoying The Beginner’s Guide to Curses, booksellers are loving it too! Here’s what Sally, from the Far from the Madding Crowd bookshop in Linlithgow, thought:

I’ve always enjoyed Lari Don’s work, she has a real gift for writing for children of all ages and her events are second to none, whether for a small group or a whole school.
I recently raced through The Beginner’s Guide to Curses and was reminded again that Lari’s great gift is being able to bring traditional folklore tales to the contemporary reader completely naturally. She seamlessly introduces ancient figures and myths to a modern adventure story: the combination of a sphinx, a kelpie, a wood sprite, a mysterious toad and a shape-shifting human overcoming their differences to work as a team is just brilliant. The Scottish landscape is a great setting as well – I could just picture the hare racing through the heather hillside as the fox chased her!
Spellchasers is another excellent series from one of our favourite authors, I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Want to read it even more now?

Sign up to our mailing list to be in with a chance to WIN a copy of Spellchasers: The Beginner’s Guide to Curses!


Guest Post: Learning Scots with Mike Nicholson

Have you had a blether with anyone recently? Do your lugs get cold in the winter when you don’t wear a hat? Do you feel wabbit at the end of the day?

WabbitI didn’t grow up speaking in Scots all the time, but certain Scots words did pop up often enough to become part of my everyday vocabulary. Like most words, I can’t remember exactly who taught me which ones. They just became part of how I spoke. Many people tell me these are words their grannies use. Sadly I never met my Scottish granny, so I can’t say it was her. The one word I can attribute to a particular person is the fabulous stramash (an uproar or disturbance). Bill McLaren’s passionate but gentlemanly rugby commentaries for what was then the Five Nations were part of my childhood. As another pile of muddy bodies scrabbled for the ball, he taught me what a stramash was.

shoogleSometimes it seems that the Scots words manage to capture a particular situation or action perfectly. I only have to ask a classroom of children to shoogle their hands and they all put them up and shake them without me even explaining what I’ve asked them to do. I find that children love to play around at saying these new words and at guessing what they mean. They often think stramash is to do with potatoes, and suggest that fankle means ‘thank you’. My favourite was a P2 boy who thought that braw was ‘something that ladies put their boobies in’.Fankle

I chose to write Thistle Street, Thistle Sands and Thistle Games because I wanted to find a way to introduce these great words in such a way that they could be easily understood and easily pronounced. So rather than writing a whole story in Scots, I dropped the words into stories in context. In these three picture books the Scots word is the final one you land on in a story page. It’s like a punchline telling you what has happened, with the rhyme helping the reader to learn how to say it. I’ve found lots of people buying the books to send to children who have a Scots connection but are no longer in Scotland. Schools have enjoyed using them to introduce Scots words during Scots Language Weeks; teachers who aren’t Scottish, but have to teach some Scots have been particularly grateful!

My large Scots dictionary is now well-thumbed in my quest for more words to write about. Whether any more books come remains to be seen but in the meantime it’s fun to be inside writing on days when its dreich!

Our Scots Language Books

Translated by Susan Rennie:

Translated by Susan Rennie

The Thistle Series by Mike Nicholson:

Thistle Series by Mike Nicholson

You might also be interested in our Features for Teachers:

Scots Language Glossary

Porridge the Tartan Cat

Highland Games

The Teeger that Cam for his Tea We're Gangin on a Bear Hunt The 12 Days o Yule Thistle Street Thistle Sands Thistle Games