As many of you will know we, the BookBairns, live in Scotland, and this week we celebrate one of the most beloved writers from our coun...

Celebrating the Bard! And a gift for you!

Monday, January 22, 2018 BookBairn 4 Comments

As many of you will know we, the BookBairns, live in Scotland, and this week we celebrate one of the most beloved writers from our country, the Bard, Robert Burns. We love books which celebrate the Scots language and ones that share images of our beautiful homeland and I love the books produced by Scottish publisher - Floris Books and the imprints Picture Kelpies and Wee Kelpies.

So of course, we are very excited to share some of their beautiful picture books to celebrate Burn's Night. And make sure you check our social media for a giveaway of one of these fabulous books!

Ally Bally Bee (traditional rhyme) with illustrations by Kathryn Selbert

Also rather tasty apparently.
For any Scottish BookBairn readers out there you will no doubt be familiar with this much-loved Scottish rhyme. Originally an advertising jingle for 'Coulter's Candy', an aniseed tasting sweetie, this little ditty has been sung to many generations of bairns all over Scotland. Included my little brother, Ally. So it's a song I have sung often. It's a simple one about getting a few pennies to buy some sweeties. This new edition also includes the verse about growing up and 'going to sea' to make pennies to buy sweeties too. It's a lovely edition, with lift the flaps on each page to further reveal the next scene of the story or to show you where the sweeties are hiding. The Wee Page Turner loves this - he's already very familiar with the song as I have been singing it to him since he was born - but he can now lift the flaps in the book too, making it a more engaging book for him to play with on his own. But mostly he enjoys reading (or singing) it on his "mammy's knee". A perfect baby book for bairns! 

Speed Bonnie Boat (traditional Scots folk song) with illustrations by Alfredo Belli

This is another book inspired by a traditional Scottish folk tune, and again it's one that we sing daily. (It wasn't until writing this post that I realised how many Scots folk songs I sing at home!) Speed Bonnie Boat is BookBairn's lullaby of choice. We used to sing Edelweiss from The Sound of Music but since hearing Speed Bonnie Boat at Bookbug rhyme time at the library she has insisted on this one every since. So I was very excited to get the picture book. It's essentially a song about Bonnie Prince Charlie and his efforts to evade capture by the Brits following the defeat at Culloden. Whilst this is a song we perhaps sing frequently to our bairns, I suspect many of us only know one or two verses and as you delve further into the lyrics you will realise that the song is quite dramatic. So it's only appropriate that this picture book is seeped in drama too. The illustrations show the power of the waves and storms, giving the whole journey the drama that it needs. It also includes a little Scottish history. This really is a lovely book but BookBairn is probably a little young to fully appreciate it so we'd recommend holding off until your bairn is school-age.

We're Gangin on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, translated by Susan Rennie

You will probably know this story. It's 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' but in Scots. Such a lovely translation of a brilliant adventure rhyme. This family of brave bear hunters trudge through muckle forests, and skirlin snawstroms, claggie mud and a deep cauld river in search of a glowerin bear. (My spellcheck just had a melt down.) If you're naw a Scots reader, a great way to start is by reading familiar stories in Scots (I had a good giggle at the expense of two very English students in a St Andrews bookshop trying to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stane - there attempts were rather amusing). This is such a brilliant story and jings your kids will love hearing you trip over the Scots words. BookBairn actually enjoys this version more than the original - I thinks Scots words are a bit more descriptive and onomatopoeic than the original - and we will definitely be enjoying this one over and over again!
Ahhhhhh! A bear!

My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns and illustrated by Ruchi Mhasane

This version of Robert Burn's famous poem has been given a new, and beautiful, twist as it depicts the special love between a parent and child. Each line has been given a new meaning through the soft and whimsical illustrations. The line "O my Luve's like the melodie that's sweetly play'd in tune" is accompanied by a mother and daughter at a children's music class; the line "And I will luve thee still, my dear, till a' the seas gang dry" is shown through the illustration of a family enjoying the day at the beach. And the bittersweet part of the poem that has been given a whole new meaning for me are in the lines "And fare thee weel, mu only Luve! And fare thee weel, a while!" as the mother drops her precious little girl off at school/nursery; followed by "And I will come again, my Luve, tho' it were ten thousand mile!" as she picks her daughter back up and gives her a huge cuddle. This book has given me a whole new perspective on a poem I have known my whole life, and that's the magic of this picture book. We have a copy of this lovely book to give away on our Twitter page so please pop over to enter so you can add this beautiful story to your bairn's bookshelves!

We will be celebrating Burn's Night on Thursday with a meal of haggis, neeps and tatties and of course enjoying these lovely stories! In my first year of writing the blog I reworked the Selkirk Grace for BookBairn's so I'm going to share it again:

BookBairn Grace
Some hae books and canna read
And some wad read that want it,
But I hae books that mammy reads,
Sae let the lord be thankit.


Mammy, BookBairn and The Wee Page Turner xxx

*Disclaimer: we were sent these bonnie books for review by the publisher, including a copy of 'My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose' for a giveaway. The words and opinions are, as always, my own.


  1. Nice blog, MummyBookBairn! The books look great and I’m delighted to know that the Wee Page Turner is lifting the flaps (hopefully) before he eats the book. Sorry - I don’t think I’ll get to join you this week .... ““The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley”. Gonna miss you guys. xxx

  2. There are some lovely memories in this blog- I still sing Ally Bally Bee and the Skye Boat Song to the bairns and love to use Scots language - recommend any of Itchy Coo publications

    1. I knew you would love the Ally Bally book!