Isla & Pickle: The Highland Show by Kate McLelland

Isla & Pickle: The Highland Show is the second story in a series by Kate Mclelland, published by Kelpies.

Isla and Pickle The Highland Show Kate McLelland Kelpies

Isla is a high spirited girl who lives on a Scottish island with her best friend Pickle, a miniature Shetland pony who likes to get up to all sorts of mischief. In this latest book, Isla and Pickle spot a poster for the Highland Show and Isla is immediately enthusiastic to enter Pickle as she says he is “the best pony in the world.”

Isla and Pickle The Highland Show show poster Kate McLelland Kelpies

The only trouble was that ponies in the Highland Show had to be well groomed and well behaved but Pickle, well Pickle liked to do things his way. Ever confident in her best friend, Isla sets to work training and grooming Pickle, which is a bit of a challenge to say the least.

Isla and Pickle The Highland Show attempts to train Pickle Kate McLelland Kelpies

On the day of the show, Isla is so excited by the tractors, stalls and other animals that she doesn’t notice Pickle trot away to enjoy the sights and sounds of the show with visits to the cake stall and the muddy field where the Highland cows are. When it’s their turn to face the judges Pickle is messy, sticky and a little bit smelly. Will Pickle’s friendliness and cheeky manner win the judges over?

Isla and Pickle The Highland Show Pickles wanders off Kate McLelland Kelpies

Kate McLelland’s bright and funny illustrations make this book instantly appealing. We particularly like the picture of Isla’s baby brother with a pair of pants on his head after Pickle has upset all the washing. A perfect book for fans of horses and ponies that is sweet and full of fun.

Kate McLelland has her own favourite books featuring horses and ponies that have helped inspire her as a reader, writer and artist. And as part of the blog tour for Isla & Pickle we are thrilled to welcome Kate McLelland to the blog to share some of those with us. 


I absolutely loved books about horses as a child.

Black Beauty

This probably started with Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. I broke my heart reading it! I have always loved animals and have never quite understood anyone who couldn’t. Black Beauty has some powerful universal messages about empathy, kindness and respect, but its overall impression on myself was about animal welfare and how important it is for us to look after those who are more vulnerable.

Saddle Club

As a teenager I read the Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant and, if I am honest, I can’t recall a single storyline! These books coincided with a time in my early teens, when I was learning to ride horses. I rode for several years and loved to read about other young rider adventures, even though they were a world away from me.

War Horse

More recently I loved Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse – I still haven’t seen the acclaimed stage show, but the horse puppets look truly amazing! In a way, War Horse, reminded me of Black Beauty again. By following one horse, it opened your eyes to the lives of hundreds of other horses who shared in the experience of being led into war – one they didn’t choose to be part of. Both the horses in these books saw the best and worst of humanity.

Norman Thelwell
Norman Thelwell

Isla and Pickle focuses on the best of us. It is about friendship and looks at the joy an animal friend can bring to a child’s (or adult’s) life. Pickle is fun and cheeky and I think Norman Thelwell‘s illustrations were probably the first to inspire the idea that Pickle would be a pony. I loved reading his adventures with Shetland ponies and the illustrations made be laugh-out-loud. His fierce, funny and adorable ponies are still fabulous today.

Many thanks Kate for sharing your inspiration with us, we can definitely see the same cheekiness in Pickle that comes across in Norman Thelwell’s illustrations. For those of you unfamiliar with his work take a look at this website and you will see what we mean. 

About the author

Kate McLelland is an accomplished illustrator and printmaker. She trained in illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. She is the illustrator of bestselling picture book There Was a Wee Lassie Who Swallowed a Midgie and the much-loved My First Scottish board book collection, and has received and been nominated for a range of awards.

Find out more about Kate on her website or follow on Twitter @KateMcLelland & Instagram @katemclelland.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the Isla and Pickle Blog Tour:
Discover Kelpies with their interview with Kate.
Story Snug have a step by step guide on how to draw Pickle.
Portobello Book Blog share their review of Isla & Pickle.
Delightful Book Reviews host a chat with Kate about the Scottish landscapes that have inspired her art.
BookBairn share a mummy and daughter Q&A with Kate (the questions asked by three year old Book Bairn are very cute and definitely worth reading!)
Get Kids into Books host a discussion with Kate about her five favourite picture books.

Blog Tour Insta 2.jpg

Buy Isla & Pickle: The Highland Show from the publishers, Kelpies.

Many thanks to Kelpies for sending a copy of this book for review.

One thought on “Isla & Pickle: The Highland Show by Kate McLelland

Add yours

  1. Love a good horse book, growing up I think I read most the Saddle Club series and I too can’t remember a single storyline!!! Pickle is just adorable, we will definitely keep and eye out 🙂


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