It’s not all Grimm. Or Asbjørnsen and Moe. Now we have Theresa Breslin’s An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales, fantastically illustrated by Kate Leiper.
You don’t actually need Theresa’s stories to enjoy this book. And you know me, so you know I’m not saying anything bad about either Theresa or her stories. It’s simply that the pictures by Kate Leiper are really something. Theresa thinks so too, which is why I dare suggest her stories aren’t everything.
When I saw Theresa back in August we stood around, just staring at the beautiful kelpie in this book. I’m so glad this picture of the kelpie exists, because it helps me imagine Seth MacGregor’s ‘horse’ so much better.
In a way, these are the same stories we have heard many times before, only now wearing Scottish clothes. But that’s the whole point about folk tales. They get told, by folk, over and over again. They change a bit. Or they don’t.
Sometimes it depends what you heard first, what you will remember, and perhaps re-tell. Because that is what you do; you tell the stories. It’s less about reading and more about sharing tall tales. You know, the one about the clever boy who worked out what to do in a bad situation. The poor woman who wanted a baby. The man who really loved his dog, who loved him in return.
This time it’s Theresa Breslin’s turn to re-tell stories she heard as a child, or learned about in some other way.
It is all very, very Scottish. (And if you are not, there is a handy glossary for Sassenachs.)