Lively yarn-spinning, delightful illustrations, and handsome bookmaking again make a winning combination in this follow-up to the creators’ An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales (2012).
Breslin opens with a tale of St. Columba and the Loch Ness monster and closes with an encounter between a clever fox and a cleverer young girl—adversaries who previously met, with a similar result, in the other collection’s closer. In between, she dishes up fluently retold versions of tales featuring a child selkie, mermen, and Wee Folk; a Robert Louis Stevenson cameo; Thomas the Rhymer’s sojourn with the queen of Faeryland; and how Finn MacCool built the Giant’s Causeway in order to fight the Scots giant Benandonner. With the exception of a skinless Nuckelavee that unwisely tangles with an old wise woman and is in any case left unseen, the monsters here are mostly benign sorts—even the draconic Island Beast snoozes peacefully in its only appearance and is rendered in such warm red and golden tones that it seems more decorative than dangerous. Leiper likewise supplies all 11 tales with bright illustrations that generally run evocatively along the broad margins and off the edges of the pages, offering not scenes of violence but idyllic glimpses of finely modeled small animals and objects, appealingly distracted figures in historical dress, and grassy Scottish hills.
A fine choice for reading aloud or alone, rich in creatures more magical than frightening. (glossary) (Folk tales. 7-12)