After setting pen to manuscript in early 1936, it took Sergei Prokofiev just four days to write Peter And The Wolf.

Four days, but he threw into the water a stone whose ripples are still being felt: commissioned by Natalya Sats, the pioneering director of Moscow's Central Children's Theatre, the work had its premiere on May 2 1936, and barely a year has passed since without it being performed or recorded by someone, somewhere.

Nearly 80 years on, Booker-nominated author James Robertson and Wick-born pianist and composer James Ross are hoping to make an equal splash with their own take on the Russian's classic work. They've combined to create The Boy And The Bunnet, written in Scots and aiming to do for Scotland's traditional music and instruments what Prokofiev's piece did for the orchestra and the classical oeuvre.

For the man behind the project, Bryan Beattie of Creative Services Scotland, it's the culmination of a long-cherished ambition to make traditional music a fixture in Scottish classrooms and, from that beginning, make it an important part of the cultural lives of young Scots.

"It's not part of the curriculum now and it's just chance if people come across it," he says. "You could legislate for it, you could create policy, but a more effective way is to create something which is entertaining and interests people in traditional music. And if you're looking for a model of how to introduce young people to music which has lasted across several generations, then Peter And The Wolf is fantastic."

That, then, was the starting point. Beattie drafted in Ross and Robertson, who as well as being a garlanded author runs a Scots language children's imprint. And so the The Boy And The Bunnet was born. The piece had its world premiere in September at the Blas Festival in Inverness, where it was performed as Balach Na Bonaid in a Gaelic version translated by the poet Aonghas MacNeacail and narrated by Wilma Kennedy. This week, Robertson's original Scots version takes its bow at Glasgow's Tron Theatre as part of the city's ongoing Celtic Connections festival. The story will also be published in book form in March, with illustrations by Edinburgh-based Jojo Norris.

The Boy And The Bunnet tells the tale of Neil, a young boy who lives with his granny and her cat in a white house by the sea. He has a bunnet. It's blue and has a bright red toorie. In the sea lives a seal, in the sky there's a crow. Behind the house is a wood and behind the wood, a mountain. A stag lives there. The only other creature in the story is the Urisk, a figure from Celtic mythology. "The thing about the Urisk is, naebody kens for certain what it is -" we learn as its spooky theme plays. Is it an Urisk, then, that Neil glimpses when he ventures into the dark wood on his own one day?

"As with Peter And The Wolf, each character in the story has a theme which is associated to an instrument and a tune type," explains James Ross, who spent four months writing the music. "Neil is the main character and his instrument is the fiddle and his tune type is a jig. All the main tune types in Scottish traditional music are covered – jig, reel, strathspey, waltz – and all the main instruments in traditional music. So the granny is the cello, for instance, and the stag is the bagpipes. I was really trying to create moods and tension so that when Neil goes into the woods and gets scared, the music's really helping it, and the music and the story are working together."

As for the words, James Robertson says they're not intended as a "mirror image" of Prokofiev's story. "Having said that, this is aimed at six- to-ten-year-olds and I think at that age, any story which involves animals and a bit of an adventure and something potentially quite frightening, which is resolved in a good way at the end, is quite a traditional story."

For the live performances and for the recorded version of the work, which was given away with today's Sunday Herald, Ross has gathered together a sextet featuring some stellar names from Scotland's resurgent traditional music scene. Among them are Corrina Hewat on harp, Fraser Fifield on pipes and in-demand Icelandic percussionist Signy Jakobsdottir. But, adds Robertson, "it's been scored in such a way that it's not just one set of musicians who can play it. In a sense anybody who can play some or all of the instruments should be able to perform it. It would be brilliant if it could be toured around schools. That's certainly one of our long-term ambitions."

Giving voice to Robertson's text is actress Gerda Stevenson. Best known for her roles in Braveheart and TV series Heartbeat, she's also a noted interpreter of Robert Burns's work. For Robertson, the use of Scots adds an important linguistic dimension to The Boy And The Bunnet and touches on a subject about which he feels passionately.

"I had a middle-class, mostly English-speaking background but I was very conscious that there was this other thing going on all around me all the time, and I was fascinated by that," he says. "I was fascinated that there was this language that was very rich but didn't appear to feature at all in my education or anybody else's. So as an adult I became interested in Scots poetry and writing in Scots for adults."

A longtime admirer of Hugh McDiarmid – "the most significant cultural figure in Scotland in the 20th century," he says – Robertson combines his work as a novelist with his role as partner in the Itchy Coo imprint, a publisher of Scots language books for children. Itchy Coo has published Scots translations of Roald Dahl's The Fantastic Mr Fox and The Twits (rendered as The Sleekit Mr Tod and The Eejits) and edited collections of Scots language poems with titles such as Blethertoun Braes and King O' The Midden. Through Itchy Coo, and now with The Boy And The Bunnet as well, Robertson hopes to spark an interest in language among schoolchildren.

"I've felt for a long time that it's actually really important for all kinds of reasons, not least for our sense of cultural identity, but also to enable children to be articulate both in Scots and English. It's really important that they have an understanding of what this language is that many of us speak". And we do still speak it: "Scots as a spoken language is still alive and kicking," he adds. "Go to any town or city and listen – there's plenty of Scots being spoken out there, even if the vocabulary has been diluted over the years."

Despite that, there is still an issue of validation. "For a child to be given an assurance that these words aren't bad English or slang, but have a value in their own right, is also really important."

With such forthright opinions on the subject, Robertson may soon find himself on Education Secretary Mike Russell's Christmas card list. In what is being billed as a landmark ruling, Russell announced last week that from 2014 all Scottish pupils sitting Higher English will have to study at least one Scottish text. "It can only benefit our future citizens to so engage with their own culture," said Russell.

Robertson, for his part, is wary of being drawn into politics. Moreover he resists the idea that any one political party can claim ownership of the art forms which buttress our cultural identity – especially at a time when those art forms are showing a growing confidence, at least to his eye.

"I think that even without the independence debate going on, we're in a place where the Scottish cultural revival is actually quite strong. I don't see that disappearing even if the fortunes of the SNP change in the next few years." In fact, he adds, "often the culture precedes the politics – the politicians often follow the path that's hewn out by artists and writers in advance of them." Artists, writers – and a wee boy called Neil who wears a blue bunnet with a bright red toorie.

The Boy And The Bunnet has its world premiere in Scots at Celtic Connections on February 3 and 4. Both Scots and Gaelic CD versions of The Boy And The Bunnet are available to buy online (£5.99). The fully illustrated children's book is published on March 23 in Scots and Gaelic (Big Sky, £5.99, or £8.99 with CD). Buy the CD or pre-order the book at