Katie Morag McColl is one of Scotland’s best-loved characters, brought to life by the series of picture books written and illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick. Katie’s adventures on the remote fictional island of Struay captured children’s imaginations, subsequently being made into the multi award-winning CBeebies series. Amongst other awards, Cherry Campbell became the youngest ever winner at the BAFTA Children’s awards for this series, when she was just 9 years old.
The stories about life in a rural island community are inspired by Mairi Hedderwick’s own experiences living on Coll in the Inner Hebrides for a number of years with a young family. Children love her detailed illustrations depicting the comfort and chaos of family life as well as the island flora and fauna.
The books follow fiery-haired Katie Morag McColl’s idyllic rural life on the Island of Struay. Katie Morag lives above the island’s only shop where her mother, Mrs McColl, is the postmistress. Sporting her trademark white jumper, kilt and wellies, feisty Katie Morag runs free around the wild beaches, moors and coves, visiting the legendary Grannie Island on her farm and playing with her little brother and big boy cousins. As well as the indomitable Grannie Island, Katie also has Granma Mainland – where Grannie Island wears dungarees and fixes her own tractor, Granma Mainland is always dressed up to the nines when she gets the ferry to visit.
Katie Morag is a favourite with children because of her brave, generous and enthusiastic spirit although she can also be stormy and very stubborn! As well as covering important topics such as sibling rivalry ( see Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted), the books are a great link to the KS1 topic of islands covered in many schools, which means they are often read in class. Young readers will be intrigued by life in the remote community of Struay, which is, at first, connected to the mainland by a ferry which only comes once a week on “Boat Day”.
All in all, these are brilliant bedtime stories for ages 3 and over. Book 1 Katie Morag Delivers the Mail is Toppsta readers’ favourite although you don’t need to read the series in order.