The holiday ditty gets a reworking in thick Scots dialect, from “a reid robin in a rowan tree” on.
The fun comes in reading (or, for the daring, singing) the lyrics aloud: “On the 12th day o Yuletide, / My true luve gied tae me / 12 drummers dirlin, / 11 pipes a-skirlin, / 10 lads a-lowpin, / 9 lassies birlin….” In cleanly drawn illustrations, the shaggy livestock (the “5 gowden rings” are in the noses of golden brown Highland cattle) are as frisky as the lads, clad in short pants, and the tartan-skirted pipers and lassies. Except for the rowan and a stray sheep or “collie dug” (dog) off in the distance, Land keeps his increasingly wintry country scenes from turning overcrowded by moving all the previous gifts offstage until the festive “lowpin birl” that fills the final spread. Rennie closes with a glossary and a pronunciation guide for Scots cardinal and ordinal numbers.
The familiar rhyme gets a braw shoogle, skooshing along in tandem with scenes of bonnie revelry. (Picture book. 6-8)