Two children discover the truth in a pair of Loch Ness legends.
Spinning an original story around local folklore, Don sends two cousins, Kenneth and Ishbel, rowing across the loch from their impoverished granny’s cottage to the ruins of Urquhart Castle—where, it is said, behind two identical hidden doors lie treasure or poison. No sooner do they come ashore below the ruins than a brass key washes up (sharp-eyed viewers will spot a finny tail poking up through the waves), and doors appear. The children make their choice and it’s the wrong one…but then they get to make another and find a trove of golden eggs. On the row back they are intercepted by a huge monster that smashes their boat, reclaims the eggs, and finally carries the children to safety. Along with atmospheric views of the deep loch’s swirling waters and long, low hills beneath cloudy skies, Ilincic crafts a particularly magnificent monster, green, scaly, and dragonesque. But the sketchy, patched-together narrative doesn’t measure up to the illustrations, as the author gives her characters stilted dialogue (“If we found the treasure under the castle, we could buy food”) and contrived mulligans, leaves the backstories of both the eggs and the children untold, and doesn’t let the glittering tale of the encounter be the young folks’ reward. Kenneth and Ishbel are both white.
An excellent monster largely wasted by an uninspired storyline. (source note) (Picture book. 6-8)