Isla & Pickle: The Highland Show by Kate McLelland

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Published by Kelpies, an imprint of Floris Books, 2018.

This is the second story in a new picture book series about Isla and her pet pony, Pickle. Pickle is a miniature Shetland pony and he’s often up to no good: stealing vegetables from the shop, chewing the washing, or chasing the chickens. It doesn’t really make him the ideal candidate for the ‘Perfect Pony’ contest at the Highland Show but Isla enters him nonetheless. Isla’s friend Rosie is also entering the contest with her pony, Belle. Belle is very well behaved and her coat is smooth and sleek. How can Pickle compete?

17323D8F-CBF9-4877-A34E-8C96DAB86D57In the days leading up to the show, Isla tries to prepare Pickle by grooming him morning and night and practising graceful trotting and obedience. The day of the Highland Show arrives and cheeky Pickle gets up to lots of mischief. By the time of the contest, Pickle’s coat and mane are in a mess. He doesn’t fare much better in the obedience category either. What he does display though is lots of charm and a friendly, warm personality. Isla learns that perfection isn’t what matters; friendship is more important.

The story is light-hearted and fun. There’s lots of slapstick humour in the cheerful, brightly coloured pictures. It’s interesting to learn about aspects of Scottish life: hairy Highland cows, gorgeous tartan prints and the events of a Highland Show. I also liked the depiction of a single parent family headed by a father. It’s important for all types of families to be represented in children’s fiction and it’s quite rare for this particular family dynamic to be portrayed.

Sam and I had fun reading this book and we look forward to sharing more of Isla and Pickle’s adventures.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 2+

Thank you to Floris Books for sending me this book to review.

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