Speed Bonnie Boat

A Tale from Scottish History Inspired by the Skye Boat Song

Illustrated by Alfredo Belli

Available to buy

Quick Look

  • Inspired by the world-famous Scottish folksong
  • Introduces children to Scottish history and heroes
  • The beautiful landscapes and seascapes of Scotland's west coast are captured by Alfredo Belli's stunning illustrations

Explore the story behind the famous Scottish folksong with this beautifully illustrated retelling of Bonnie Prince Charlie's heroic journey.

234 x 296 mm
Floris Books
Picture Kelpies: Traditional Tales
colour illustrations
Age Range:
From 5 to 8 years
28 pages
Publication date:
16 Mar 2017
Picture Kelpies: Traditional Scottish Tales


"Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
'Onward!' the sailors cry;
Carry the lad who's born to be king
Over the sea to Skye."

Sung throughout the world, the Skye Boat Song evocatively brings alive the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie's famous journey from the Outer Hebrides to Skye, off Scotland's west coast, after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden.

This stunning picture book, inspired by the lyrics of the traditional Scottish folksong, illustrates the true story of one of Scotland's most famous heroes and introduces children to this dramatic period of Scottish history.

The beautiful landscapes and seascapes of Scotland's west coast are captured by Alfredo Belli's stunning illustrations.


'A simply stunning picture book... unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school and community library picture book collections for young readers.'
-- Midwest Book Review, March 2017

'The images are sweeping and yet personal, and the loyalty of the prince's followers is evident in their actions and demeanor. '
-- Goodreads

'Faithfully and skillfully illustrated.'
-- Youth Services Book Review

'A rendition more poignant than patriotic with, at least in the rhymed portions, the cadence of a lullaby.'
-- Kirkus

'Alfredo Belli [...] has captured the dangers of the sea-journey to Skye and the loyaty, comfort and hope that were given to the young prince by the spirited Flora.'
-- School Library Association

'The verses are brought to life by Alfredo Belli's atmospheric illustrations, with simple historical explanations about Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald's voyage from Benbecula to Skye, adding a welcome dimension.'
-- West Coast Review

'... 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.'
-- BookBairn, blook blogger


Alfredo Belli lives and works in Rome. He illustrates children's books and school textbooks on behalf of different publishers, spanning age ranges from preschool through teen. He also contributes to various advertising agencies, graphic and web design studios as an illustrator and visualizer. An all-round artist, he uses a wide-range of styles and techniques, utilizing pencils, inks, watercolours, acrylic paints, oil pastels, digital and mixed media...not necessarily all together.


Discover more of our Scottish children's books on the Discover Kelpies website, where you can search the full Kelpies range, from board books to young teen novels, by age, genre, subject and location.

Just feel like browsing?

Browse our catalogues

Interested in an author?

Discover authors