BROWSING in B&Q, Glasgow actor, comedian and writer Elaine C Smith was delighted when a woman stopped to tell her she had absolutely loved her book.

“’Oh, my autobiography, says I, how lovely thank you,’” says Elaine. “And she replied, ‘naw - The Gruffalo…..’”

Elaine’s Glaswegian translation of Julia Donaldson’s best-selling children’s book has been a huge hit – her online reading of The Glasgow Gruffalo went viral during last year’s lockdown, gathering more than a million views and 43,000 shares on Facebook within a few weeks.

This year, she released The Glasgow Gruffalo’s Wean, another fantastic translation of Donaldson’s The Gruffalo’s Child, and it has been a hit with young readers and grown-up critics alike.

READ MORE: Children at North Glasgow school gifted books thanks to Cruden Building

“The Gruffalo said that nae Gruffalo should/Ever set fit in the scary big wood/’How no? How no?’ said the Gruffalo’s Wean/’Cos errza Big Bad Moose/that’s aw ah’m sayin…’

In September, it was named Scots Bairns Book o the Year at the prestigious Scots Language Awards.

“I was really heartened by the response to The Gruffalo in Glaswegian, people really took to it,” says Elaine. “I just did that wee video for my granddaughter Stella and her pals, so I was amazed when it went vira;.

“I’m delighted The Gruffalo is being done in Scots, and Doric and Gaelic – it’s absolutely brilliant.

“It was a lot of fun to do – the wee moose is very gallus, very Glasgow and I loved putting in some good, Glaswegian phrases like ‘shot the craw’, and ‘aw right, big man.’”

She smiles: “I sent my draft to my husband, who is a bona fide Glaswegian – I’m from Lanarkshire, of course – and he loved it, so that was good.

“It was difficult to do – making sure it rhymed, and made sense. It was like nothing else I’d ever done but I loved it.”

At drama school, Elaine recalls being told to ‘get rid’ of her accent.

“Back then, you had to talk ‘like an actor’,” she rolls her eyes. “I mean, there were no regional accents. It was all ‘BBC English’ which was ridiculous. Apart from royalty, no-one speaks like that.

“But it’s the accent of power, of course. It tells ‘ordinary’ people they are wrong for speaking the way they do.

“I can’t bear snobbery about accents, which is why it’s a thrill for me to be able to write a book in Glaswegian, and to see all these different versions. And it’s great it’s a children’s book – giving young people an appreciation of it from an early age.”

She laughs: “And nothing beats a Glaswegian in full flow….”

The Gruffalo’s Wean, written by Julia Donaldson and translated by Elaine C Smith (Black and White Publishing) is one of our top books (with a Glasgow connection) for 2021.

READ MORE: Glasgow mum dances over 100km dressed as Christmas tree to raise funds for local schools

Here is the rest of the list.


Glasgow-born author Mick Finlay combines historical settings and twisty plots to great effect – this is the fourth Arrowood novel, about a detective in London who takes on the cases Sherlock Holmes would not go near.

Mick also likes to tackle issues not normally featured in Victorian-set crime literature including disability, gender, sexuality and colonialism.


Arrowood and the Meeting House Murders

Arrowood and the Meeting House Murders


In the new novel, Arrowood is investigating the murder of two African travellers in hiding from a ruthless showman trying to force them to perform in his exhibition.

“Sherlock is very boastful, arrogant – the best in the world – and I wondered what other private detectives of the time made of him,” smiles Mick, who was born in Dumbreck.

“He never appears in the book – Arrowood and Holmes live in very different universes. I’d love to write a Glasgow scene for Arrowood, because of my city roots.”

He smiles: “Maybe one day….”

THE LIGHTHOUSE WITCHES, CJ Cooke (Harper Collins): Glasgow-based poet and author CJ Cooke, researched 16th century Scotland and the folklore and history of the Highlands and Islands heavily for this dark, deep novel. It’s chilling and gothic, set in a lighthouse on the cliffs of a remote Scottish island where people are disappearing...

THE DARK REMAINS, William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin (Canongate): Could this be the ultimate crime novel collaboration? Ian Rankin completes an unfinished novel by William McIlvanney’s featuring his hard Glasgow cop, Laidlaw..


The Dark Remains

The Dark Remains


EDGE OF THE GRAVE, Robbie Morrison (Pan): When Charles Geddes, son-in-law of one of Glasgow’s wealthiest shipbuilders, is found floating in the River Clyde with his throat cut, his widow Isla Lockhart asks for Inspector James Dreghorn to lead the murder case...


Edge of the Grave

Edge of the Grave


THE KILLING TIDE, Lin Anderson (Macmillan): Forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod in Orkney and Glasgow DS Michael McNab investigate a horrific case of a young woman set on fire.

THE NIGHT MY DREAM CAME ALIVE, Juliette Forrest (Scholastic): Funny and horrifying story of a girl who cannot dream... All the other kids at school have dreams because they can afford to go to the Dream Store. When Ollo finally gets there, she is hoping for the adventure of her life but it quickly becomes a waking nightmare…


The Night My Dream Came Alive

The Night My Dream Came Alive


THE CUT, Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown): The mighty Chris Brookmyre is back with a brilliant book which is reminiscent of his early darkly comic books All Fun And Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye and Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks. It is the story of Millicent Spark, newly released from prison after serving 25 years for the murder of her partner and Jerome Kelly, a Glasgow film student, who uncovers startling new information about Millicent’s past.