When one of Scotland’s leading actors is amongst your fans then you know you must be doing something right.
That’s the situation for children’s .author Susi Briggs who has recently launched her new picture book featuring the character Nip Nebs so beautifully brought to life in the illustrations by artist Ruthie Redden Actor Gary Lewis who is currently appearing in the BBC’s Sunday evening series His Dark Materials, but is famous for his roles in Billy Elliot, Gangs of New York, and Outlander, was so impressed with Susi’s book Nip Nebs that he has written a foreword for her new book.
Gary said: “Let me tell you straight up: I love their work. It’s personal. I’m a fan. When I read the Nip Nebs stories I feel the rhythms o my ain folk, my grannies and grandas and those before them. The absolute charm of the book crosses generations and cultures. This is the magic and sheer Nip Nebbery of it!” The first book Nip Nebs was shortlisted for the Scots Language Awards in the Books for Bairns section and this success of the first book encouraged the publishers, Curly Tale Books based in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town, to work with Susi and Ruthie again on the second story, Nip Nebs and the Last Berry.
The publication of this original picture book in written in Scots has been supported by the Scottish Government’s Scots Language awards administered by the Scottish Book Trust.
Author Susi, who is based in Gatehouse of Fleet in south west Scotland, said: “I was only ever taught to read and write in English even though I spoke Scots at home from the age I could speak. About ten years ago a publisher rejected my English written story The Wee Sleepy Sheepy and told me they would publish this if I omit the “Scottish flavour”. The only Scottish word it in was the word “wee”. I knew then that Scots speaking children were not represented in the mainstream. I had to teach myself to read, write and create in Scots language in order to make some remedy to such a sad truth.” “Our first book Nip Nebs was shortlisted for Scots Bairns Book o the Year at the inaugural Scots Language Awards and our second book Nip Nebs and the Last Berry was awarded the Scots Publication Grant from the Scottish Government. This brings great validation to Curly Tale Books, Ruthie Redden and myself. We are proud to be part of a growing consciousness of the expressive beauty and validity of Scots language in children’s literature.”
In Nip Nebs and the Last Berry, young children can enjoy the Scots language, but the illustrations also tell the story and there are pixies to find in every page. Nip Nebs and his friend, a wee mouse, are snoozing when their sleep is disturbed by three birds angrily arguing over the last berry on the tree. When Nip Nebs goes to try and help sort out the problem things don’t turn out as he expects.
Illustrator Ruthie Redden said: “It has been a joy to work with the Curly Tale team again to bring the second Nip Nebs book to life. Listening to folk, both old and young, reading the story aloud and hearing this beautiful lyrical language brought to life through the pages of our book is the icing on the cake.” The book was launched at Moat Brae, the National Centre for Children’s Literature in Dumfries, and at the beginning of December with a reading and signing event.
The book is priced £9.99 and is available from the publisher and independent and online booksellers.