There wis yince a troll that steyed ablow a brig. (That's jist whaur trolls are meant tae stey.) Meanwhile, awa oot tae sea, there wis some pirates that steyed in a ship. (And that's jist whaur pirates are meant tae stey.) Trolls, they say, are meant tae eat goats, but nae goats cam teeter-totterin ower this troll s wee brig. Sae he ate fush insteid.
The publisher' blurb continues: "So begins this hilarious tale of the adventures of a bunch of incompetent pirates who can't cook, and a crabbit auld troll who can. Their lives seem very far apart: the troll, whose favourite dish is goat, tries and fails to eat the creatures crossing various bridges he hides under; the pirates, who like to eat fish, try and fail to find buried treasure. But by a series of coincidences their paths cross - with dramatic consequences!"
Author Julia Donaldson has a happy knack of pitching her stories perfectly for a young audience, and she has deservedly enjoyed considerable success as a result. Perhaps best known for "The Gruffalo", she takes the reader on another roller-coaster ride of the imagination in "The Troll". There has been something of a trend in the recent past for publishers to embark on Scots language translations of children's classics, and Black & White Publishing can be congratulated on being at the forefront of the trend. "The Troll and the Kist o Gowd: The Troll in Scots" is a beautifully produced book that seems the ideal way of allowing children to get used to the idea that the language they might hear at home is both real and valid, and not just "English with a Scottish accent", which is how Scots has sometimes been portrayed in the past. The translation into Scots has been done by James Robertson, and looks, feels and sounds "right". The result is a book which seems destined to appeal to exactly the same audience as the original.
We sometimes wonder about the economics of translating books, especially books with such high production values, into languages which will inevitably restrict their potential markets. In the case of "The Troll" Black & White has also published a Shetland dialect translation; and another of Julia Donaldson's books was recently issued by them in four dialect versions, with Orkney, Shetland, Doric and Dundee editions. Perhaps we should let those taking the decisions worry about the economics, and simply applaud the fact that the diversity of Scotland's languages and cultures is being recognised - and made so widely available - in this way.