The Secret of the Kelpie

Lari Don; Illustrated by Philip Longson

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Quick Look

  • A classic, gripping tale from Scottish folklore, retold by renowned Scottish children's author and storyteller Lari Don
  • Features the legendary Scottish creature which inspired Andy Scott's world-famous Kelpies sculptures
  • Beautifully accompanied by artist Philip Longson's stunning illustrations

A stunning adaptation of the traditional Scottish folktale of the kelpie -- starring a shape-shifting water horse -- made world-famous by Andy Scott's kelpies statues. Can Flora uncover the secret of the kelpie in time to save her family?

294 x 219 mm
Floris Books
Picture Kelpies: Traditional Tales
colour illustrations
Age Range:
From 4 to 7 years
36 pages
Publication date:
17 Mar 2016
Picture Kelpies: Traditional Scottish Tales


"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 those dangers on a sunny afternoon..."

Flora is playing with her brothers and sisters by the loch when she notices a stunning white horse. While her siblings clamour for a chance to ride the beautiful animal, Flora is worried. Where has this strange horse come from? Why are its hoof prints wet?

Too late Flora realises this is no horse! It's a kelpie: a shape-shifting water horse from Scottish folklore known to steal children. Can Flora reveal the secret of the kelpie in time to save her family?

The kelpie, once a lesser-known creature of Scottish mythology, is now enjoying legendary status as Andy Scott's magnificent Kelpies statues have become a world-famous tourist attraction.

The classic tale of the kelpie is wonderfully retold for 4-7 year olds in this gripping adaptation by renowned Scottish children's author and storyteller Lari Don, with breathtaking illustrations by artist Philip Longson.


'A wonderful re-telling of the traditional Scottish folk tale. The language is very accessible and the hushed earth and water colours of the illustrations perfectly capture the impact of the Scottish landscape and the drama of the story. Ideal for storytelling.'
--Carousel, Annie Everall

'A classic tale of the kelpie that is wonderfully and beautifully retold for children ages 4-7 in this gripping adaptation... and enhanced with the breathtaking illustrations by artist Philip Longson.'
-- Midwest Book Review

'The story is haunting, and along with its lovely, detailed illustrations, it captures the look and feel of Scotland perfectly. '
--Goodreads, Barbara

'... The author uses elements of various traditional versions and acknowledges several collections of Scottish tales as source material. But Don makes her story far gentler than many.'
-- Kirkus

'The illustrations are very pretty and fun, and are an exciting part of the story.'
--Kids' Book Buzz

Praise for the Scottish Traditional Tales:
'Beautiful books which are a great introduction to the folklore genre... Wonderful stories which will give children a real sense of Scottish culture.'
-- Creative Steps

Praise for The Tale of Tam Linn:
'A traditional Scots tale served up both fresh and freshly illustrated.'
-- Kirkus

'The illustrations are very pretty and fun, and are an exciting part of the story.'
--Kids' Book Buzz

'With swirling lines, soft earthy colors, and dramatic compositions, Longson's illustrations capture the beauty of the natural world as well as the ominous undertones of the tale. A haunting picture book with a stouthearted heroine.'


Lari Don has worked in politics and broadcasting, but is now a full-time writer and storyteller. She grew up in the north-east of Scotland, and lives in Edinburgh. She is the author of the Fabled Beast Chronicles: First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts; Wolf Notes and other Musical Mishaps, Storm Singing and Other Tangled Tasks; and Maze Running and Other Magicial Missions for older children, as well as Rocking Horse War. She has also written another Traditional Scottish Tale with Philip Longson, The Tale of Tam Linn.

You can also visit the author's own website at

Philip Longson is a UK artist and illustrator based in New York. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art and has exhibited his work in shows from London to Edinburgh. Inspired mainly by mythology and folk tales his work usually deals with fantastical or otherworldly stories. He is the illustrator of another Traditional Scottish Tale with Lari Don, The Tale of Tam Linn.

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