The Secret of the Kelpie: A Journey Round Scotland  

Children’s Shows

National Library of Scotland (Venue 147)

9 -13th August ONLY




“Every loch in Scotland, however beautiful, has its cold dark depths.  And every loch in Scotland has its kelpie.  But it’s easy to forget these dangers on a sunny afternoon…”  Author Lari Don introduces herself and her retelling of one of the many stories that about in Scotland of the mythical beast which lives in the loch, taking the form of a horse when it’s above the surface, and whose favourite food is children –“one is a snack, several are lunch: they’re probably sweeter, more tender, and less crunchy than adults”…


Having told us the kelpie story against a backdrop of the evocative illustrations by Philip Longson, she tells us of the many kelpie stories that exist in Scotland, and how they differ from region to region.  This leads us to maps, the maps exhibition in the National Library just across the foyer, her personal passion for maps and how she uses them as catalysts for her imagination when writing.  She shows us a map of which the Librarian has given her a copy, and invites us to accompany her on a journey of mystery and imagination into this landscape, to describe the creatures we imagine are living there, and explain what evidence we might see for them: this is how she begins to build a story.  We are then treated to her favourite story – of the grumpy crofter of Raasay and what happened when he came across a small fluffy purple creature of a kind he’d never seen before…


Finally she invites questions from the audience: and the questions and her answers are just as fascinating as the rest of the session – the first one being “Do you think magic is real?”


Lari Don is a superb storyteller, engaging the children in her audience from the very start, inviting their contributions and yet keeping them splendidly under control when necessary.  She listens attentively to them, and responds enthusiastically to their ideas, some of which were truly imaginative.  The adults were equally enthusiastic in their applause at the end of the session.  I loved it!


Mary Woodward