What We’ve Been Reading Wednesday– Picture Kelpies

If you have done any research into Waldorf education, you have probably read at least one book that was published by Floris Books. The “About Floris” page says:

Floris Books is an independent publishing company based in Edinburgh, Scotland. We publish books in two main areas: non-fiction for adults, and books for children. Within our non-fiction list, we focus on quality books which look at the world a little differently. Our books cover all aspects of holistic and alternative living, including Steiner-Waldorf education, biodynamics and organics, holistic health, philosophy of the natural world, mind body spirit, parenting and child health, philosophy of human life and religion & spirituality.

We’re also the largest children’s book publisher in Scotland. We publish board and picture books for 0-7 year olds, including international stories in translation and nostalgic classics from illustrators such as Elsa Beskow, as well as the Picture Kelpies range of Scottish picture books; story books and anthologies for 6-10 year olds; and the Kelpies, a much-loved range of Scottish children’s fiction for 8-12 year olds. We also publish a wide range of craft and activity books suitable for children and adults of all ages. While I love many of their books for parents and educators, the books that Dora and I have become incredibly attached to, are their Picture Kelpies (please note that the regular Kelpie books are for somewhat older children). The stories are very Scottish and Dora has quickly become acquainted with certain Scottish words and expressions, such as “pram”, “tea” (the meal, not the drink), “mum”, “dressing gown”, “tartan, “sitting room”, “bonnie”, and more. There are a few words with spellings that vary from our “American” spellings, such as “favourite”, “miaow”, “pyjamas”, “neighbours”, etc. but, Dora isn’t reading yet and these books are aimed at children aged 3-6. I personally enjoy the Scottish flavor of the stories. I’ve never had much of a desire to visit Scotland before, as I am about 50% Irish and 25% English, so had planned to focus any time I was ever able to have in the United Kingdom on those two countries. Between Floris Books, Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie novels, the movie Brave, and my husbands recent and intense interest in Scotch, however, I have suddenly developed an great desire to visit Scotland.Most certainly, the Picture Kelpie books are not like most of the books that I’ve seen in the United States. I feel that their story lines are much less dramatic, in a good way, that helps to protect young children’s sense of well-being. For instance, in My Cat Mac, a family moves into a new house and the cat that lived their before decides to let them stay. He and the little girl bond immediately, but when the little girl decides to dress him in clothes and push him in a pram, his patience runs out. He leaves and decides to punish her by staying away for a whole night. Meanwhile, the little girl cannot stop worrying about him and sneaks outside to wait for him under his favorite tree. She wakes in the middle of the night to find that she has been locked out of the house. Right then, the cat returns and saves her by entering the house through the cat door and waking up her parents. This, overall is a fairly dramatic story, but between the gentle drawings and the fact that things are kept within certain boundaries, the story never got too scary for Dora. When I refer to boundaries, I refer to how far the author is willing to allow the situation to get out of control. I think a U.S. version of this book would have the little girl actually getting lost in the woods or standing outside in the bitter cold of winter, as opposed to showing her just sitting on her stoop, crying, locked out, but in a fairly resolvable situation, even without the cat’s help (she can just ring the doorbell).Another book, entitled Wee Granny’s Magic Bag, introduces us to a grandmother with a magic bag (I know you would never have guessed that from the title, would you?!?!?). The grandmother uses her bag in the park to help the kids make cupcakes. That’s it, they just make some cupcakes, of course, she does have an oven, some eggs, a telephone booth, a donkey, and more, in her bag. I just feel that had this book been written in the U.S., the bag would have been used for something “bigger”, such as the children being whisked off by some villain and Granny having to use her magic bag to save them with space ships and what not, with granny having been a secret spy all along.Dora’s favorite Picture Kelpies book has been Uan the Little Lamb . In this book, the children find a lost lamb, bring it home, raise it, watch it grow, and then rejoice when it becomes a mother of its own. Really, it is such a gentle story, the plot almost seems to simple to be entertaining, but I cannot tell you how many times that I have had to read this book!

The one negative that I have found with not just Floris Books, but almost all Waldorf-inspired books, is the inability to preview the book, even on Amazon. It can be a bit frustrating to order a book that has a nice a cover and synopsis, to then realize once it arrives, that it just isn’t right for you. Most of the time, returning the book costs almost as much as the book cost in the first place! I have found that looking at Floris Books’ catalogues is the best way to get an idea what the books are like. The catalogues show some of the pages of some of the books, give  longer descriptions, and group the books with other similar books, so if you know you liked one book in a group, you will probably like another book in the same group.

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Labels: Literature
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff