Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

In a collection of twenty-five short stories as well as seven tales selected from the adventures of the Fians, Barbara Ker Wilson explores the character traits that set the Scots apart from their neighbors as well as their Celtic kinsfolk. Written in the third person, each story is illustrated with a line drawing that refers in a general way to an event occurring in the narrative. A map following the table of contents identifies the geographic areas associated with the tales, and seven full-page drawings in muted colors are spaced throughout the work.

While each story in Scottish Folk-Tales and Legends may be treated as a separate entity, common themes unite the narratives. Love is often a component of Scottish legends, but there is usually an element of sacrifice or danger linked to the winning of the affection of another. Tam Lin is released from service to the Elf Queen because Fair Janet is willing to endure physical pain to rescue him. Like Ulysses, Black Colin of Loch Awe must assume a beggar’s rags in order to save his wife from a forced marriage to one of his enemies. Not all the romances related in this work end happily; some are fraught with tragedy and loss. Roderic MacCodrum’s wife abandons her family to resume her shape as a seal and return to the ocean, while the fairy bride of Malcolm MacLeod leaves only an enchanted banner as a reminder of her marriage when she forsakes her husband and son.

These stories offer a...

(The entire section is 437 words.)