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)