Find Your Local Unicorn

Once upon a time in the kingdom of Scotland, a young prince lost his smile.

No one could help Prince Donald find his smile until his friend Hana, the magician’s granddaughter, had an idea. Using her grandfather’s magic, she created a majestic creature with the body of a horse and the horn of a gazelle, and called him a ‘unicorn’.

When the prince became a wise king, with a clever magician by his side, he asked the castle stonemason to carve ninety-nine unicorn statues. King Donald placed the stone unicorns all over his kingdom, so that people would never forget how the prince found his smile.

And many of them are still there to this day, as you can see in the map below!

Do you have a local unicorn? If you do, we would love to hear about it! Send us your unicorn photos, drawings and stories by email, Twitter or Facebook (make sure to tag @DiscoverKelpies!), and we’ll add our favourites to the map!

The Legend of the First Unicorn

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Scotland, a young prince lost his smile.

No one could help Prince Donald find his smile until his friend Hana, the magician’s granddaughter, had an idea. Using her grandfather’s magic, she created a majestic creature with the body of a horse and the horn of a gazelle, and called him ‘a unicorn’.

As Hana and Donald play and chase the unicorn through the forest, it seems that this magical animal might hold the key to the prince’s smile. But what is that fierce beast lurking in the trees?

The unicorn, magical and strong, is Scotland’s national animal and heraldic symbol. Inspired by local folklore, renowned author Lari Don weaves an enchanting origin tale of the first unicorn, which is brought to life by Natasa Ilincic’s rich illustrations.

Sharing Our Stories Online

As we all adjust to the significant lifestyle changes during this time of uncertainty, we recognise the need to be flexible in our approach to granting permissions to those looking to share our stories online whilst schools and libraries remain closed. We are committed to finding the right balance between supporting our reading community and protecting the rights (and income) of our authors and illustrators.

Over the coming weeks, we will be adding to our own bank of resources with videos of creators sharing their own stories as well as activities, discussion points and learning resources for children of all ages. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for details of the latest additions, and check out our YouTube channel.

You will find a complete list of all our available resources in the Features for Teachers section of our blog – we’ll be adding much more over the coming weeks!

If you are an educator looking for a way to continue class reading or storytime, please email us with the following information:

  • Your name and name of school/library
  • Title of book
  • Where content will be posted – must be a closed group or channel, ie not accessible to the general public
  • How long it will be available for – we are requesting that content is removed once schools/libraries reopen

Please note that we do not hold audio rights for some of our books, and in those cases we need to contact the rights holder for permission before we are able to confirm your request. Please bear with us as we are receiving a high volume of requests at the moment!

We hope that by working together we can continue sharing our stories with children across the country at this difficult time.

Guest Post: Imagining Unicorns by Nataša Ilinčić

In today’s guest post, illustrator Nataša Ilinčić takes us through the process of creating her latest picture book, The Legend of the First Unicorn.


There is no better way for me to start a picture book than to let my imagination run free as I’m reading the story. I like to immerse myself in it and visualise the characters and environments. After I’ve done this a couple of times, I read through the illustration brief carefully, and note down all the important details and visual elements that will feature in each illustration.

Then it’s time to get paper and a pencil and start sketching!

Before starting on the illustrations themselves, I create some preliminary concept sketches of the characters. These are generally very rough, but they plant the seed from which the characters will eventually grow.


At this stage research is very important. I gather information and reference material for the characters’ clothing and features, as well as the environment and settings, particularly if it’s historical. I love creating books that are rich in detail, so that the reader can find something new hiding in the pages every time they read the story.


Once this is done, I start working on small thumbnail sketches that will give me a good overview of how the illustrations will work throughout the book, and help me ensure that the story has strong visual pacing. The design team will also be thinking about how the text of the story might fit alongside my artwork at this stage; it’s important that the words and pictures work together to bring the story to life!


The thumbnails are followed by rough sketches, and then more polished ones. During these stages I’m working closely with Leah, the Art & Production Director at Kelpies HQ, taking her feedback on board to gradually refine the sketches until I obtain the final line art. This is transferred onto hot pressed watercolour paper, ready to be painted!


The illustrations are painted in watercolour and gouache, and given a slight digital polishing at the end. In this final stage I can correct any imperfections and calibrate the values and contrast to ensure the artwork looks as good as it can.

Once all the illustrations have been completed and approved, the final files are sent to the publishing house, where the production team finalises everything and prepares the book for printing.

The Legend of the First Unicorn

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Scotland, a young prince lost his smile.

No one could help Prince Donald find his smile until his friend Hana, the magician’s granddaughter, had an idea. Using her grandfather’s magic, she created a majestic creature with the body of a horse and the horn of a gazelle, and called him ‘a unicorn’.

As Hana and Donald play and chase the unicorn through the forest, it seems that this magical animal might hold the key to the prince’s smile. But what is that fierce beast lurking in the trees?

The unicorn, magical and strong, is Scotland’s national animal and heraldic symbol. Inspired by local folklore, renowned author Lari Don weaves an enchanting origin tale of the first unicorn, which is brought to life by Nataša Ilinčić‘s rich illustrations.

Guest Post: Searching for Unicorns by Lari Don

Have you ever been surprised by a unicorn? In today’s guest blog, Lari Don explains why Scotland has so many of these mythical creatures…

Unicorn statue in Falcon Square, InvernessSurprised by Unicorns

I am often surprised by unicorns. Not by unicorns on T-shirts or cuddly toy unicorns (though I see lots of those at my author events!) but by unicorns out in the real world.

Once I was walking through Inverness, on my way to an event about ‘why we love monsters’, when I looked up and saw a unicorn above my head. Not flying above my head (most story-fans with unicorn T-shirts could tell you that a flying unicorn is actually an alicorn.) No, it was a bronze unicorn on a plinth. Looking as if it could happily tackle a monster itself…

I’ve also been surprised by stone unicorns and golden unicorns and tapestry unicorns, I’ve been surprised by unicorns in the Scottish Parliament and in castles and as I’m walking along high streets in small Scottish towns…

So I started to wonder:

Why does Scotland have so many unicorns?

And I found an answer. Actually, I found two answers. The historical answer, and the story answer.

Unicorn statue at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

The historical reason for all those unicorns in market towns and royal palaces is that the unicorn is Scotland’s national animal. Hundreds of years ago, Scottish kings wanted to be associated with this strong, powerful, magical beast. At that time, people believed that unicorns were real, but that they lived a long way away, like lions and elephants.

The story reason can be found inside a wonderful book called The Coming of the Unicorn by Duncan Williamson: a Travellers’ tale which starts with magicians trying to cheer up a sad king by inventing an new animal, using aspects of a horse, a boar and a lion.

Now, inspired by that traditional tale, I’ve written The Legend of the First Unicorn, a picture book which explores the invention of the unicorn and explains all those unicorn statues. It’s illustrated by the wonderful and magical Nataša Ilinčić.

Illustration from The Legend of the First Unicorn by Natasa Ilincic

Do you have a local unicorn?

Perhaps carved on a heraldic shield, or standing on a stone plinth, or decorating an old wall? Once you start looking, you might discover a whole herd of unicorns scattered around Scotland.

Tell us about your unicorns on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram! You could even write your own story, about how a unicorn ended up as your neighbour… Don’t forget to tag @DiscoverKelpies and @LariDonWriter!

The Legend of the First Unicorn

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Scotland, a young prince lost his smile.

No one could help Prince Donald find his smile until his friend Hana, the magician’s granddaughter, had an idea. Using her grandfather’s magic, she created a majestic creature with the body of a horse and the horn of a gazelle, and called him ‘a unicorn’.

As Hana and Donald play and chase the unicorn through the forest, it seems that this magical animal might hold the key to the prince’s smile. But what is that fierce beast lurking in the trees?

The unicorn, magical and strong, is Scotland’s national animal and heraldic symbol. Inspired by local folklore, renowned author Lari Don weaves an enchanting origin tale of the first unicorn, which is brought to life by Nataša Ilinčić‘s rich illustrations.

Win a trip to Lochleven Castle!

The true story of the daring escape of Mary, Queen of Scots from the island castle in Lochleven is well-known throughout Scotland and the world. Now, we’re giving you the chance to follow in Mary’s footsteps… Enter our competition and win a family trip to Lochleven Castle!

On a tiny island in the middle of Loch Leven there is a castle. 
The only way to reach the castle is by boat.
Many years ago, in that castle on the island, a beautiful young queen was held prisoner.
Her name was Mary, Queen of Scots.

Situated in the middle of Loch Leven, the castle was once the home of Sir William Douglas. Douglas was one of a group of Scottish lords who imprisoned Mary as they wanted to seize her power. Mary lived in her island prison for over a year, before her successful escape plot.

To celebrate the publication of Mary, Queen of Scots: Escape from Lochleven Castle, you and your family can visit the famous castle itself. You can take a boat across the water to see the tower house where Mary was not only held prisoner, but forced to abdicate as Queen. And hopefully you won’t have to make a dramatic escape plan!

To enter, simply order a copy of the book via our website by 31st July. Enter code MQOSCOMP at the checkout to make sure your entry is counted.

Mary, Queen of Scots: Escape from Lochleven Castle

Mary, Queen of Scots: Escape from Lochleven CastleIn this brand new picture book, multi-award-winning author Theresa Breslin has adapted Mary’s famous adventure for children.

Through stunning illustrations from Teresa Martinez and Breslin’s gripping story, children will feel the tension of Mary’s imprisonment and the excitement of her escape. Mary, Queen of Scots: Escape from Lochleven Castle is the perfect book for young readers to gain insight into this fascinating period of Scottish history.

Order your copy here to enter!


Terms and Conditions
• Entrants must order a copy of Mary, Queen of Scots: Escape from Lochleven Castle via, and add code MQOSCOMP at the checkout.
• Entrants must complete the purchase of the book by midnight (GMT) on Tuesday 31st July 2018.
• Floris Books staff will select the winner at random from all entries.
• The announcement of the winner will appear on the DiscoverKelpies website on Friday 3rd August 2018.
• The winner will receive entry tickets (including boat transfer) to Historic Environment Scotland property Lochleven Castle on a date of their choosing. Tickets will be provided for up to 2 adults and 2 children. The prize does not include transport to/from Loch Leven. You must agree your visit date in advance with Floris Books.

• Prizes are not exchangeable.

Wee Granny’s Guide to Pirate Lingo

Get ready for excitement and surprises as Wee Granny (Scotland’s very own Mary Poppins!) and her magic tartan bag set off on another adventure. This time, tharr be pirates!

As Wee Granny and the children set off on their pirate-tastic adventure, we’re brushing up on our pirate lingo! Read on to learn about some of our favourite pirate words and phrases. How many can you spot in the book?

Move your mouse over each word to discover the meaning!







Jolly Roger




What are your favourite pirate words? Tell us in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

About the Book

Wee Granny's Magic Bag and the Pirates

Wee Granny is going on holiday with Emily and Harry to Arran but they’ve missed the ferry. Don’t worry; Wee Granny’s got just the thing in her magic bag – a rowing boat!

But shiver me timbers, on their journey they meet Captain Shoogle and his pirate crew.

Does Wee Granny have anything in her magic bag to help the pirates find their buried treasure? You’ll never guess what unbelievable thing she’ll pull out next!

Buy it now!


Also by Elizabeth McKay

There’s something very special about Wee Granny’s tartan bag. Each time she reaches inside, she pulls out … A BIG SURPRISE! Click the images below to find out more about her fabulous adventures!

Wee Granny's Magic Bag Wee Granny and the Ceilidh

New Kelpies galore join us in 2018!

2018 will be the 15th birthday of the Floris Books Kelpies list. So, we thought it was only fitting to celebrate in style! We’ve got ALL these new Kelpies joining us in the new year.

We’ll be starting the year off on a high, by marking another important date. Judith Kerr’s classic Tiger Who Came to Tea has certainly earned his stripes – he’s reached his 50th birthday. The Teeger That Cam For His Tea translates everyone’s favourite muckle, strippit guest into Scots for the first time. Keep an eye on our social media for our teeger tea pairty plans!

On to another classic creature… The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster is the latest edition to our Traditional Scottish Tales series. In true Lari Don style, she’s created the first ever Nessie story based on REAL Loch Ness folklore. And we’ve already fallen tail over humps for Natasa Ilincic’s illustrations.

New Kelpies - The Teeger that Cam for his Tea  New Kelpies - The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle  New Kelpies - The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster  New Kelpies - A Super Scotland Activity Book

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle races on to the scene in April. Inspired by Victoria Williamson’s experience working with young asylum seekers, Reema and Caylin’s story is one of displacement and discovery. This powerful debut novel will speak to anyone who has ever asked ‘where do I belong?’

We launched some spectacular new Kelpies series in 2017, and we’re on tenterhooks to find out where the stories lead. Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Pet Show Show-Off is the grand finale to the terrific, tongue-twisting, tartan series. Colin the Hamster and co. try to solve a remarkable Roman Riddle in the latest Museum Mystery Squad adventure. And Artie Conan Doyle has his own mystery to solve in the vexing case of the Vanishing Dragon.

New Kelpies - Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Pet Show Show-Off New Kelpies - Museum Mystery Squad and the Case of the Roman Riddle New Kelpies - Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon 

From new additions to Kelpies Classics, we hope Kathleen Fiddler’s Haki the Shetland Pony and Flash the Sheep Dog will be loved by a whole new generation of readers. Our gorgeous new editions will be available from April.

Not forgetting the wee ones… In February, you’ll be able to get your hands on our first EVER moving parts book! Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny lets you do just that, as you sing along to the cheeky Scottish rhyme… PUSH PUSH!

New Kelpies - Rowan the Red Squirrel New Kelpies - Skye the Puffling New Kelpies - Wee Granny's Magic Bag and the Pirates  

Scotland’s own Mary Poppins sets (or should that be ‘sails’) off on another adventure in May. What will Wee Granny find in her Magic Bag when she meets the Pirates?

There’s nothing we love more than adorable Scottish animals. Created by the team behind Skye the Puffling, Rowan the Red Squirrel (and his sister Hazel) more than fit the bill. Plus, Skye will appear in her very own Wee Puffin Board Book in April – perfect for your own wee pufflings!

Last, but definitely not least, is our stupendous, sensational Super Scotland Activity Book. Inspired by all the things that make Scotland special (from Nessie to the North Coast 500), it’s bursting with colouring, mazes, dot-to-dots, stickers and more. Take a look inside here!

…and that’s only the first half of the year. Phew! 2018 is going to be a busy one!

How to get your hands on our new Kelpies

The Teeger That Cam For His Tea, Rowan the Red Squirrel, Skye the Puffling: A Wee Puffin Board Book and Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Off A Bus are all available to preorder now.

Have any of our other new Kelpies caught your eye? Remember you can click the ‘Add to wishlist’ button to save them for later!

You can keep up with the news of new Kelpies, and our latest events and competitions on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster: Cover Reveal!

Apparently 2017 was a record year for Loch Ness Monster sightings. We predict 2018 will be even better…

We’re so excited to reveal the cover for The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster. Our latest Traditional Scottish Tale brings together Lari Don‘s unique storytelling with stunning illustrations from Natasa Ilincic. This is the first ever Nessie picture book based on real folklore from Loch Ness. You can #TreasureNessie with us from March 2018.

“Don’t you remember the old story? About two doors hidden in the rock? Behind one door there’s a room full of poison, behind the other there’s a room full of treasure!”

“That’s just a story. It’s not real. It’s no more real than the big green monster our great-grandpa claimed he saw in the loch when he was wee.”

The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster cover

What do you think of our cover? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Remember to tag your post with #TreasureNessie!

More about The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster

Legends of the Loch Ness Monster abound, but this new tale from renowned Scottish children’s author and storyteller Lari Don sidesteps the modern Nessie to create a new myth inspired by local folklore. This timeless tale of Scotland’s most famous creature is atmospherically brought to life by Natašsa Ilincic’’s stunning illustrations.

The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster is the latest Traditional Scottish Tale by Lari Don. The Secret of the Kelpie and The Tale of Tam Linn are available now.

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.

#FlorisDesign meets Kasia Matyjaszek

Kasia Matyjaszek is the illustrator of The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee, which has just been shortlisted the Bookbug Picture Book Prize 2018! We love Kasia’s illustrations so much that we’ve just asked her to introduce us to lots of new wee ones in This Bonny Baby.

We caught up with Kasia to find out more about her life as an illustrator.

Hi Kasia, thanks for talking to us today. Congratulations on making the shortlist of the Bookbug Picture Book Prize! How does it feel?

Hello! Thank you for having me!

Obviously I am very excited about the shortlist. I am also very happy that The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee will be included in the Bookbug Primary 1 Family Bag, and all the P1 pupils in Scotland will receive a copy. This is such a brilliant initiative and I feel very honoured that our book will be part of it this year.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career so far?

My first degree was in architecture and it involved quite a lot of drawing and painting. I can now draw buildings and perspective with my eyes closed!

When I realised that I didn’t really want to be an architect, I give up my job and went on to study MA in Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art.Many people I knew didn’t understand my decision and advised me against it. But this turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

I graduated in 2010 and a few months later I was commissioned for my first picture book project. It was a great experience but I wasn’t really happy with my illustration style back then.

It took me a while to discover the way of working that suited me better and then establish myself as a picture book illustrator. Submitting artwork for competitions helped a lot. I was lucky to be one of the finalists of the first edition of the Picture Hooks mentoring scheme. I was also shortlisted in the Clairvoyants picture book competition organised by Polish independent publishers Dwie Siostry, which lead to a picture book contract.

And then more picture books happened.


What made you decide to become a children’s book illustrator?

It was more of a process. I’ve always enjoyed drawing. This is all I remember from preschool – all the cool girls would play with the dolls and I just sat at a table and made pictures. My mum kept most of the drawings and I love looking though them when I visit home. In school I would always scribble things in my notebooks. Once the teacher sent a note to my parents and it said something like: “Kasia did not listen during class. She drew silly drawings in her notebook and laughed at them”.

And now I make silly drawings that make me laugh a lot and this is how I make living!

Is working as an illustrator what you expected?

It actually turned out to be much better than I expected. Before I started I wasn’t aware that such a large part of the job is promoting the books and meeting with the audience in schools, libraries and at the festivals. And I love it! Illustrating can be such a lonely process and you spend most of the time with imaginary characters. It is great to get out of the studio from time to time and work with real people!

Can you tell us a bit about your illustration process and methods?

I like to experiment with various media, tools and ways of making marks. This is usually a fun and messy process. For example for both Bonny Baby books I had to make a lot of paint splats and it involved standing on my desk and dropping ink onto a piece paper on the floor. I missed a few times before I came up with perfect splats!

I finish my illustrations using digital methods and this is a bit like tidying up after all the messy fun.

What are your favourite things to illustrate?

Crocodiles, dragons and confident girls.

Where do you get your inspiration? Do you have any favourite illustrators or designers?

I work with children a lot running creative workshops or visiting schools and festivals with my books and it is always such an inspiring experience. I love watching the children play, interact with each other and make art. Even the questions they ask during the events are always so brilliant and could easily become a starting point for a new picture book.This Bonny Baby illustrated by Kasia Matyjaszek

In terms of art and style I am inspired by naïve art, social realism, mid-century design and drawings made by 5 year olds.

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

The good thing about illustrating picture books is that you work on a sequence of illustrations. When I get stuck on a spread, I just move on to a different one and then return to the problematic spread when I am ready.

And when I am really stuck, it usually means that I need a break so I take a day off, go for a walk or for a long cycle, ideally somewhere close to the sea. I wonder if this is because all of the good ideas are somewhere at the bottom of the sea, just waiting there to be discovered!

Do you have any tips for budding illustrators?

Don’t listen to other people’s advice. It has worked for me!

What did you enjoy most about working on The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee and This Bonny Baby?

The Fourth Bonniest Baby is set in very specific places in Dundee and as a part of research for the book I visited the city to do some on-location drawing and gather reference material, and later include various landmarks in my illustrations. I very much enjoyed the process.

And with This Bonny Baby, it was such a joy drawing messy babies covered in mud, paint and food. I like making mess and I like illustrating it even more!


More about Kasia Matyjaszek

Kasia Matyjaszek - This Bonny Baby coverKasia Matyjaszek is an Edinburgh-based freelance illustrator. The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee by Michelle Sloan and Kasia Matyjaszek is available now.

Meet more bonny babies who love having fun and getting messy in This Bonny Baby, also illustrated by Kasia Matyjaszek.