SPEED BONNIE BOAT by Alfredo Belli


A Tale from Scottish History Inspired by the Skye Boat Song
illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 8
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An illustrated version of the ever popular Scottish “Skye Boat Song,” with added lyrics and historical background.

Written in the 19th century (and set to a folk melody), the verses commemorate the flight of Bonnie Prince Charlie, then in his mid-20s, from the 1746 battle of Culloden. They begin after a prose introduction that sets the scene and follows the fugitive until—disguised (according to legend) as resourceful cottager Flora MacDonald’s maidservant—he escapes in a boat to the Isle of Skye. Along with a closing note, the anonymous modern co-author also adds a near ambush by British troops to the storyline in the lyrics and tones down the martial closing lines to a milder “Rightfully king! True hearts will stay / Faithful for evermore!” There is no visible blood or explicit violence in Belli’s depictions of the battle and its aftermath, but in the clean-lined watercolor scenes he fashions evocatively rough seas and stormy skies until landfall brings a final calm. The British soldiers’ red coats and the bright tartans in which the handsome, downcast prince and other male Scots in the all-white cast are outfitted shine against the muted backgrounds.

A rendition more poignant than patriotic with, at least in the rhymed portions, the cadence of a lullaby. (map) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 15th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-78250-367-5
Page count: 24pp
Publisher: Floris
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2017


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