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Wee Gillis

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  458 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
A Caldecott Honor Book by the creators of the beloved "Story of Ferdinand"
Wee Gillis lives in Scotland. He is an orphan, and he spends half of each year with his mother's people in the lowlands, while the other half finds him in the highlands with his father's kin. Both sides of Gillis's family are eager for him to settle down and adopt their ways. In the lowlands, he is
Hardcover, 72 pages
Published January 1st 1938 by Viking Children's Books
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Feb 22, 2011 Misty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this one last month when the kids and I were learning about the United Kingdom. The books centers on a Scottish orphan boy (Wee Gillis) who spends half of the year with his mom’s relatives in the lowlands herding cattle and half the year with his father’s relatives in the highlands stalking stags. The ‘highlanders’ and the ‘lowlanders’ don’t get along and eventually Wee Gillis is told he must decide which will be his permanent home. In the end Wee Gillis doesn’t join either of them, ...more
Mar 18, 2011 Luann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the earlier Caldecott-honor books. I didn't expect to like it much as I thumbed through it before I read it. I thought it would be just okay. But as I read the story and studied the illustrations, I started to really like it! I like the solution that Wee Gillis found to his problem of choosing whether to be a Lowlander who calls cows or a Highlander who stalks stags. While the illustrations at first don't look to be very remarkable, I enjoyed the attention to detail - particularly ...more
Sep 03, 2012 ABC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: younger-kids
Wee Gillis lives in Scotland, but has a mother from the lowlands and a father from the highlands. Each side of his family tells him to do the opposite. How can he reconcile the different parts of his life? He takes the best of both sides.

It is all in black and white. I hope kids today don't find it too old-fashioned and long, beause this book is a treasure.
Jul 31, 2012 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture, younger, celtic
A little boy of mixed Highland and Lowland Scottish parentage spends alternating years with the two families, learning the respective merits of cow-herding and stag-hunting, and coincidentally strengthening his lungs.
Sarah Sammis
Dec 01, 2009 Sarah Sammis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wee Gillis caught my eye at my local library. It was short, colorful and a Caldecott Honor book (1939). As it's only 80 pages and mostly a picture book, I snatched it up and read it that night.

Wee Gillis is a boy stuck in the middle of two different Scottish cultures. One parent is from the Lowlands where his family herds cattle. The other parent is from the Highlands where they stalk stags. When he is orphaned, he has to pick a family and a lifestyle.

Gillis learns how to herd cattle and how to
1939 Caldecott Honor

Favorite illustration: When Wee Gillis takes the bagpipe and makes a sound for the first time.

Favorite line: "They walked and walked not saying a word, down through the valleys and up over the hills, until they found just the right spot for deciding."

Kid-appeal: From the writer and illustrator team behind "The Story of Ferdinand." I think kids will appreciate the imperfect Wee Gillis and how he finds his true calling and place in the end.
1939 Caldecott Honor

I had the feeling that I had read this many years ago. It was like meeting an old acquaintance and not quite knowing their name, but remembering random things about them. It's great that he is able to learn and grow from both situations and the blending of the families brings a new talent to fruition.

The illustrations were certainly distinctive.
Feb 07, 2014 Dolly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is an entertaining folktale from Scotland. We enjoyed the story and we liked that Wee Gillis's decision was a good one for both sides of his family, and one that suited him well too. The narrative is short, with just a few short, simple sentences on each page. And the black and white illustrations are humorous and nicely detailed. We enjoyed reading this book together.

interesting quote:

"They walked and walked not saying a word, down through the valleys and up over the hills, until they fou
Scott Hayden
Jun 05, 2014 Scott Hayden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, 5-in-a-row
"At last the day came when he must make up his mind and decide forever which to be - a Lowlander who called cows or a Highlander who stalked stags." Wee Gillis had spent years working among both relations. Little did he know that calling cows and stalking stags would prepare him in a very unusual way to make the momentous decision.

Says the five-year-old: I like it because I like the part where it says the biggest bagpipe in all Scotland.
Krista Stevens
Won a Caldecott. Written and illustrated by the same men who wrote and illustrated "The Story of Ferdinand the Bull". Just didn't grab me. The illustrations only match the story and do not go beyond them as the ones in Ferdinand did. The conflict is resolved by with a deus ex machine insertion - unexpected and ultimately unsatisfying as that is usually not the way people make decisions about great life events. I fail to see the appeal.
The denouement is so strong in this. It would be lovely if variations of this book could be done for all children of the world. To in a storytelling fashion, celebrate and validate culture and geographical features (and people) of different countries.

I loved this review from the back cover: “A delightful picture book for children, grown-up and otherwise.” - The Washington Post
I had never heard of this book until I picked it up for my Caldecott Challenge, but I had heard of the author and illustrator. They most famously have worked together for the the book "The Story of Ferdinand," which I read a month or so ago. This book won a 1939 Caldecott Honor and so far it is my favorite Caldecott book that year. Wee Gillis is the story of a young boy whose mother is from the Lowlands of Scotland and whose father is from the Highlands. Every year he either spends tending cattl ...more
I'm in a bit of a low mood, but while reading this, I couldn't help but wonder what the point of all of it was. I mean, Wee Gillis' skills he developed while working for his family help him later on, but otherwise, there's hardly any plot point that actually leads logically into another. Much of the story is pure chance, including whether Wee Gillis blew in the pipes at all -- he never asked! He waited and waited and finally somebody asked if he'd like to. He never had to make a decision or thin ...more
I think this book would have been better received if Alana was just a little older and we could do some complimentary learning about Scottish culture and geography (which reminds me that I'd like to get a good children's atlas...) Maybe kindergarten age we will revisit?
Jack Whitebread
Oct 17, 2015 Jack Whitebread rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Munro Leaf's story about a Scottish boy with a special talent trying to decide whether to live with his Highland relatives or his Lowland relations features excellent black and white illustrations by Robert Lawson.
Apr 05, 2009 Josiah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a good Munro Leaf story, but what really drew me to first pick out this book was that it was illustrated by the legendary Robert Lawson, and...
WOW. WOW. WOW. I have seen some truly stunning work come from the illustrator's pen of Robert Lawson, but this, in my mind, surpasses it all. His rendering of the rugged Scottish landscape was beyond what I thought could be achieved in two dimensions, and the breathtaking detail in some of the pictures nearly blows my mind. This, right here, is
A silly kind of a shaggy dog story about how this kid became a bagpipe player. The art is okay and the text is fine, but it is definitely showing it's age. Still pretty good, but not great.
Florence Turnour
Our hero, Wee Gillis, finds a compromise that lets him be who he wants to be, and develops very strong lungs.
Jul 05, 2015 Abigail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, caldacott
Anything Scottish is a win for me. :)
Ann Williams
The Brothers
Wee Gillis is an orphan from Scotland who has family both in the highlands and lowlands. Each family helps him develop very, very strong lungs through either calling cows home or holding his breath not to scare stags away. Finally the day comes when Gillis must decide forever to be in the lowlands or highlands. He opts for becoming bag pipe player (his amazing lungs giving him the advantage).

Illustrations are B&W etching-like. Not enough to engage Dex (4yo).
I didn't find this story very interesting, it wasn't one of those books that you'd want to read over and over again and I found myself bored more then once during this story. The illustrations were sometimes humorous, but most of the time I thought they were a little too detailed, too many lines. I didn't care for this book.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Jun 29, 2012 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wee Gillis must choose whether he will be a Lowlander or a Highlander in Scotland. He spends years in both regions and becomes skills at the tasks of calling cows and stalking stags, but when the time comes to choose he is best fit to play the biggest bagpipes in all of Scotland with his mighty strong lungs. Illustrations are full page black and white illustrations that mirror text. Great read aloud. Must read/see.
Caldecott Honor Book, 1939. Robert Lawson was a busy illustrator and won many awards. His name is on the cover of quite a few early Caldecott winners.

Best line: "His real name was Alastair Roderic Craigellachie Dalhouise Gowan Donnybristle MacMac, but that took too long to say, so everybody just called him Wee Gillis.

Favorite illustration: Page 59
May 06, 2015 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This picture book was definitely funner and more engaging than the Story of Ferdinand. I remember in my younger years reading Ferdinand a few times at my parents' house just to try and see if there was something that I somehow missed previously, since it was supposed to be a great kids' classic. Wee Gillis can fill that spot, I suppose.
Dec 27, 2007 Kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: delights
I loved this book as a child - from a Scottish heritage, this seemed so right, so Scottish and so funny. My mother would read it with an accent and we just howled and loved, loved, loved the illustrations. A classic. By the way, according to my father, we were Highlanders. There, that should settle any problems.
This is a finely-illustrated book about a young Scotsboy's sense of his family's competing identities (Highland vs. Lowland) and the need to find his own path. Lawson does a great job carving the craggy landscapes and faces of Scotsmen, who are mostly dour or angry but sometimes heartily amused.
Kristine Hansen
Jul 08, 2015 Kristine Hansen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah...the illustrations and story work together to make this story just perfect. The art of diplomacy and the ability to find one's own way in the world marks the story of Wee Gillis, who lives between two worlds and is forced to choose for himself where he belongs.
Rebecca Lewitt
Sep 03, 2013 Rebecca Lewitt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome picture book set in Scotland. Manages to address the rivalry between lowlanders and highlanders, Cattle herding, Stag hunting and Bag-piping. Really cute and imaginative tale. We read it aloud to an 8, 10, 23, and 30 year old and it was much enjoyed by ALL!!
Aug 04, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kept, trade
This is a book from my childhood that my mother was getting rid of; so I grabbed it and absorbed it into my own library. :D

Gillis lives alternately in the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, developing his lung capacity.
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Munro Leaf, author and illustrator of dozens of children’s books, is best remembered for his signature character, Ferdinand, the Spanish bull who preferred smelling flowers to fighting in a ring in Spain. Composed in less than an hour one Sunday afternoon in 1935, the book sparked controversy. With the Spanish Civil War raging, political critics charged that it was a satirical attack on aggression ...more
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