The Hoolet Thit Couldnae Fly by Emma Grae sampler

A fantastic book by award-winning Scots author Emma Grae, it explores themes of confidence and celebrates the idea that it is okay to be different. Learn Scots and meet all the animals we encounter searching for Brodie in this bonnie wee book. Perfect for readers aged 7-10 With a snowy setting, it will make a great gift this Christmas for any child in Scotland.

A fantastic book by award-winning Scots author Emma Grae, it explores themes of confidence and celebrates the idea that it is okay to be different.

Learn Scots and meet all the animals we encounter searching for Brodie in this bonnie wee book. Perfect for readers aged 7-10

With a snowy setting, it will make a great gift this Christmas for any child in Scotland.


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emma grae is an author and journalist from<br />

Glasgow. She is a passionate advocate of<br />

the Scots language and breaking the stigma<br />

around mental illness. She has published<br />

fiction and poetry in the UK and Ireland<br />

since 2014 in journals including <strong>The</strong> Honest<br />

Ulsterman, From Glasgow to Saturn and<br />

<strong>The</strong> Open Mouse. Her debut novel, Be Guid<br />

tae yer Mammy, published <strong>by</strong> Unbound in<br />

August 2021, was shortlisted for the Saltire<br />

Scottish Fiction Book of the Year Award<br />

2022 and won the Scots Book o the Year<br />

at the Scots Language Awards 2022. Her<br />

second novel, <strong>The</strong> Tongue She Speaks, was<br />

published <strong>by</strong> Luath Press in October 2022.<br />

As a journalist, she writes under her birth<br />

surname, Guinness, and has <strong>by</strong>lines around<br />

the world. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Hoolet</strong> <strong>Thit</strong> <strong>Couldnae</strong> <strong>Fly</strong> is<br />

her first children’s book.

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Hoolet</strong> <strong>Thit</strong><br />

<strong>Couldnae</strong> <strong>Fly</strong><br />


First published 2023<br />

isbn: 978-1-80425-113-3<br />

<strong>The</strong> author’s right to be identified as author of this book<br />

under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988<br />

has been asserted.<br />

<strong>The</strong> paper used in this book is recyclable. It is made from lowchlorine<br />

pulps produced in a low-energy, low-emission manner<br />

from renewable forests and other controlled sources.<br />

Printed and bound <strong>by</strong><br />

Severn, Gloucester<br />

Typeset in 13 point Sabon LT <strong>by</strong><br />

Main Point Books, Edinburgh<br />

© <strong>Emma</strong> <strong>Grae</strong> 2023

Tae aw the feathered and furry pals<br />

ah’ve hud ower the years.

Contents<br />

Snaw 11<br />

Billy’s Ghost Dug 21<br />

<strong>The</strong> Fairm 27<br />

Cauld 33<br />

Take Flicht 41<br />

Scots Glossary 51<br />

Acknowledgements 53<br />

Note for Readers 55<br />

Food for Thought 61<br />


1<br />

Snaw<br />

It’s a cauld winter mornin when ah wake up<br />

tae wan o Brodie’s feathers oan the flair.<br />

<strong>The</strong> cloods thit kiss the moontains are<br />

white, the corners o the square windaes<br />

frozen.<br />

Brodie wis meant tae fly, but she wis born<br />

wi a bad wing.<br />

Maist pigeons in Glesga end up wi at least<br />

wan gammy fit or wing, but it’s nae fate fur<br />

a hoolet.<br />


the hoolet thit couldnae fly<br />


snaw<br />

Ah rush doon the stair in ma school uniform<br />

tae check oan ma wee pal.<br />

Daddy hud built hur a broon aviary. <strong>The</strong><br />

ootside’s scratched this mornin – the snaw<br />

disturbed.<br />

Ah take a deep, nervous breath.<br />

<strong>The</strong> cage is wide open.<br />

‘Aw naw,’ Mammy says, hur breath swirlin<br />

lik smoke.<br />

Ah haud oantae the white feather. <strong>The</strong>y’re<br />

aye turnin up in unexpected places.<br />

Sometimes fae pillas, but maistly fae Brodie.<br />

Peekin inside tae the newspapers thit covert<br />

Brodie’s flair, there’s nae sign o ma pal.<br />

Ah need tae save hur.<br />

Brodie’s the ainlie livin fing ah’ve never<br />

hud tae explain masel tae. Ah’m hur hale<br />


the hoolet thit couldnae fly<br />

wurld. She gets me oot ma bed oan even<br />

the dairkest o mornins. Mammy said the<br />

responsibility would be guid fur me, and she<br />

wis richt.<br />

Wee Brodie wouldnae huv stuid a chance in<br />

the wild, but she’s gat a guid life wi me.<br />

‘She’ll no be faur!’ ah exclaim, ignorin the<br />

sinkin feelin in ma tummy.<br />

Ah luik at the scratches.<br />

Mibbie the door hud been left open <strong>by</strong><br />

accident. Brodie’s too curious fur hur ain<br />

guid. She must huv clawed away at hur<br />

hoose tryin tae get back inside.<br />

Ah luik at the rockery.<br />

Feathers. Grey, white and speckled broon.<br />

Brodie’s a tawny hoolet.<br />

Ah drap the feather fae ma room and it<br />

disappears intae the snaw.<br />


snaw<br />


the hoolet thit couldnae fly<br />

Ah pick up anither, mair lik twa. <strong>The</strong>re’s<br />

sommat sticky at the end.<br />

‘Iona, mon in afore ye catch the cauld,’<br />

Mammy says, pittin a haun oan ma<br />

shoulder.<br />

‘Naw,’ ah say.<br />

‘Ye’ve gat school the day. Ye cannae be<br />

missin mair efter lockdoon.’<br />

School’s no been the same since the virus.<br />

Ah wis jist a wee primary twa when it<br />

stairted. Dylan’s still no learned hoo tae<br />

write the date in his jotter.<br />

He’s gat a teddy. It’s a rabbit wi big floppy<br />

ears. Dylan said his name wis Gus and that he<br />

wis his best pal durin lockdoon. He willnae let<br />

Gus oot his sicht noo. <strong>The</strong> teacher made Gus<br />

a waistcoat sae he hus a uniform an aw.<br />

Ah’m gled ma Brodie’s livin, at least.<br />


snaw<br />

‘Ah’ve nae pals efter lockdoon. Ye know<br />

that. Brodie needs me!’<br />

Mammy sighs. ‘At least pit oan yer guid coat<br />

and boots.’<br />

Ah nod. ‘Let me jist check the gairden in<br />

case she’s close.’<br />

Mammy says nocht.<br />

Brodie’s gane walkaboot afore.<br />

She wis meant tae fly.<br />

Ah luik roond the gairden.<br />

Nocht.<br />

Mibbie Brodie seen a moose and follaed it<br />

intae the fairm. She did that afore through<br />

a wee gap in the fence. We pit up mesh tae<br />

stap hur fae hobblin in there.<br />

Ah’ve never hud the fear like it, until noo.<br />

Poor Brodie wis rooted tae the spot in the<br />


the hoolet thit couldnae fly<br />

middle o the jaggy nettles. If she hudnae hud<br />

sae many feathers, ah reckon she’d huv been<br />

shakin. She let me scoop her richt up when<br />

ah jumped in tae rescue hur.<br />

Hur diet gied me the boak. She ate frozen<br />

mice Daddy gat fae the pet shoap.<br />

Brodie’s a guid wee hunter and wance<br />

attempted tae swoop ma heid when ah went<br />

in tae clean hur aviary.<br />

It’s the closest she’s gat tae flyin.<br />

<strong>The</strong> fairm’s ahind oor hoose. <strong>The</strong> auld coo<br />

shed’s been lyin empty fur cuddies’ years.<br />

<strong>The</strong> weicht o the snaw’s pult doon the green<br />

mesh leadin tae it, leavin a hauntin gap in<br />

the fence.<br />

‘Iona, come oan,’ Mammy says. ‘Ye need tae<br />

at least be dressed properly fur the cauld.’<br />

Ah run intae the hoose, up the stair and grab<br />

ma reid coat wi a hood. Ah swipe Mammy’s<br />

mobile an aw. Jist in case.<br />


snaw<br />

Mammy’s haudin the hoose phone when ah<br />

come back doon intae the den. That’s whit<br />

we call the front room. It’s cozy lik a tod’s<br />

den.<br />

‘Careful!’ Mammy shouts as ah run ootside.<br />

Ah luik at the fairm. <strong>The</strong>n Mad Billy’s<br />

gairden. It’s closer, even though he gies me<br />

the heebie-jeebies.<br />


the hoolet thit couldnae fly<br />

Mad Billy ains the fairm, but he’s no fit fur<br />

it anymair – fur aw he kin still get aboot<br />

awricht. His son’s the fairmer noo. Mammy<br />

said he’s luikin efter his inheritance.<br />

Planks fae the wooden fence huv fell doon<br />

owernicht an aw. Broon, mouldy wood. A<br />

wee injured hoolet would huv probably gane<br />

through the gaps intae Mad Billy’s gairden<br />

afore considerin the fairm. It’s a bigger gap<br />

an aw.<br />

Ah take a deep breath. Ah’m no keen oan<br />

chappin Mad Billy’s door.<br />

Brodie wis meant tae fly.<br />


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