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Bawang Merah and Bawang Putih, An Indonesian Fairy Tale

As a children's book illustrator, Denise has many things to say about the process, her struggles, and children's books on the market today.

Bawang Merah and Bawang Putih, An Indonesian Fairy Tale illustration

Bawang Merah and Bawang Putih, An Indonesian Fairy Tale illustration

The FairyTale Alphabet Book

As many of you know by now, I wrote a children’s alphabet book using fairy tales and folk tales from around the world as the theme. It was so much fun for me to illustrate using my collage method that I couldn’t wait to get it published and distributed. Unfortunately, Amazon refused to carry a book with the illustrations stretching across two pages. Many children’s books have illustrations that stretch across the double-page spread, right? I’ve seen them, you’ve seen them and probably even have a few on your bookshelf, if not now, at one time or another.

My solution was to realize that Amazon isn’t the only self-publishing company available so I went to Lulu and got my first alphabet book published: The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World, available only on Lulu.

After I danced in my success, I decided that there were a lot more fairy tales out there and I could make a whole series using global fairy tales and folk tales. Thus the birth of my second alphabet book began. I have only been working on it since February and so I haven’t finished very many of the illustrations. Here is the second in the new book for the letter B.

You’re entirely bonkers, but I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are.

— -Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Thumbnail ideas

Thumbnail ideas

Bawang Merah and Bawang Putih, An Indonesian Fairy Tale

Bawang Merah and her widowed mother lived in a village with Bawang Putih, the stepsister. Bawang Merah means red onion and Bawang Putih means white garlic. The girls were of opposite character. Bawang Merah was lazy and proud while Bawang Putih was kind and honest and hardworking. Her mother gave Bawang Merah everything she wanted while Bawang Putih did all the chores and housework but she never complained.

One day while cleaning the clothes by the river, one of Bawang Putih’s stepmother’s best clothes was swept away by the fast-moving water. Knowing she would be punished if she went home without the cloth, Bawang Putih followed the river asking everyone she met if they had seen the cloth. On and on she walked until finally the river disappeared inside a cave and there at the entrance was an old woman. Bawang Putih asked the old woman if she had seen her stepmother’s cloth and the old woman said she had. The old woman said she would give her the cloth if the girl would do her chores for her. Bawang Putih was used to hard work by now and so she fetched water and cleaned the cave for the old woman. By the time she had finished, it was getting late in the afternoon. The old woman gave her the missing cloth and then asked her to choose which pumpkin she would like to have as payment for the chores. There was a big pumpkin and a small pumpkin, and not being greedy, Bawang Putih chose the small pumpkin and headed home.

When she arrived home, her stepmother and stepsister were very angry that she has been gone so long and their dinner had not been prepared. Bawang Putih told them the whole story and how the old woman gave her a pumpkin for the chores she did. Her stepmother was so angry she took the pumpkin smashed it on the floor. But inside, the pumpkin was filled with gold and jewels. They are very surprised but thought right away how stupid Bawang Putih was for taking the small pumpkin. The larger one would have had twice as many jewels.

The next day, the greedy Bawang Merah did what her stepsister had done. She let her mother’s cloth drift away in the river and followed it downstream until she found the old woman by the cave. However, when the old woman asked Bawang Merah to do chores, she angrily refused and demanded the large pumpkin. The old woman gave it and Bawang Merah happily brought it home to her mother. When they smashed it, they found it was not filled with gold and jewels. The pumpkin was filled with snakes.

Good character is rewarded and bad character is not.

Thumbnail

Thumbnail

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references of girls for this illustration. In the end, I ended up using a good photo of a boy balancing on a tree limb to get the angle I wanted for the girl in the stream. I hope you enjoy seeing my progress on the collage. I felt like the stream played an important role in the story so I included it and collaged it separate from the girl.

Value Sketch

Value Sketch

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”

— Albert Einstein

Will Be Published with Lulu

This fairy tale has been shortened to fit into my book along with all the other letters of the alphabet. If you would like to read the full version, you can Google the title and find the story as Bawang Merah and Bawang Putih. I expect to be finished and ready to publish by July next year.

Did You Notice

In my collages, I use paper from magazines, old wall calendars, catalogs, and circulars. Often I will add things into a collage you can't see unless you are looking for it. You should find a Saxophone player and a toddler playing in the rocks, and a Chat Noir poster in the basket of clothes.

Color Composition

Color Composition

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

— Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Final Thoughts

Did you like this story’s ending? I found it to be different from the usual “married and live happily ever after” endings.

I hope you like my story and my fairy tale alphabet book idea. If you are interested you can purchase the first one on Lulu but not on Amazon. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Finished illustration

Finished illustration

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 21, 2020:

Peggy Woods,

I'm thrilled when someone likes my work. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 21, 2020:

William Kovacic,

I'm so glad you think it was unusual. The snakes took me by surprise, I can tell you. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 21, 2020:

Thanks for writing about a fairy tale that is a new one for me. It does teach a good lesson. Your collage illustrations are fantastic!

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on July 05, 2020:

Congratulations on the start of another book, Denise. the story was indeed different from the usual. thanks for sharing your gift.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 03, 2020:

Mary Norton,

I do hope so. I remember having a fairy tale book as a child and it was one of my most prized books. I would read it to my sisters and brother. I hope my book is the same for someone. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 03, 2020:

Linda Crampton,

It is my pleasure to be able to share them with all my hub friends. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 03, 2020:

MG Singh,

Thank you so much. I think I could do better but for now, this is what I have. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 03, 2020:

I enjoyed reading your fairy tales as well as your collages. What a great idea. I am sure kids will enjoy this.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 02, 2020:

You've shared another interesting fairy tale. I'm very glad that you're creating a new book. I enjoy reading the stories and looking at the illustrations very much.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on July 02, 2020:

Nice fairy tale. Its good to read such stories and you have a knack of presenting them nicely.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 02, 2020:

Linda Lum,

You do have a good point. It is probably the good sister who ends up cleaning up the snakes out of the house. But I wouldn't want the bad sister to die or anything. Just to learn from her mistakes. Still, the good sister ends up with a pumpkin full of gold and jewels so she could buy a new family if she so desired. Haha.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 02, 2020:

DreamerMeg,

Yes. I do like/appreciate a sense of fairness. I remember reading this story to my mom to get her reaction and she gasped at the snakes ending. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 02, 2020:

Ann,

It is a genius idea. I'm a bit ashamed I didn't think of it myself. Thanks so much for that.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 02, 2020:

Lorna Lamon,

I liked the moral to the tale too. Maybe I will add that for more of the tales to come. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Ann Carr from SW England on July 02, 2020:

When my granddaughter wrote her own book, she hid the main character on just two pages. Right at the beginning, before the story began, she asked readers if they could find each one. It was done as an extra incentive to read. She is nine and I was quite impressed with that idea too! Glad you like the idea, Denise!

I hope you are successful with the book - you certainly deserve it.

Ann

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 02, 2020:

Ann Carr,

What a great idea. I hadn't thought of that but I actually should. I always hide things in the collages but figured people could/would find them on their own but for children I really should list the things I have hidden in plain sight. That's the best idea. I need to add that to the book from now on. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 02, 2020:

Liz Westwood,

There is a whole process to it and I used to try to skip steps, especially all the thumbnail sketches. But I found when I did the final outcome didn't turn out as nice or halfway through the finish I would think of something that might have worked better. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on July 02, 2020:

I love this series and find the sketches fascinating; they really give us some insight to your creative process. There's a little bit of Cinderella in the story, the spoiled stepsister and the good sweet girl who does all of the work. Only, in the end she's still stuck with the rotten family AND a house full of snakes. Oh dear!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 02, 2020:

Eric Dierker,

I'm so pleased. It keeps me busy and out of trouble so there is that. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on July 02, 2020:

A great story that kids would love too because they are always very interested in things being "fair". And it is fair that the hard working girl prospered and the lazy one got the snakes! Another great story.

Lorna Lamon on July 02, 2020:

It's lovely to read these fairy tales as they are different to the ones I grew up with. It's always fascinating to see how you build up the sketches and the little hidden gems tucked away in the collage work. A great ending with a moral to the tale. Wonderful work Denise.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 02, 2020:

I love to see the sketches used for progression of an art work. Not only do they act as 'notes' and foundations but they can develop in so many different ways. A bit like a writer's notes developing into a few alternative endings.

Your collages are beautiful and they definitely enhance the story, especially for children. Do you ask the reader to find the hidden characters in the published book? I know my grandchildren love to look for hidden animals or objects.

This is a lovely story. The ending is perfect and to the point!

Ann

Liz Westwood from UK on July 01, 2020:

This is a lovely tale. I liked the outcome. Your illustration is very good. I appreciate the way you show how it developed.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 01, 2020:

Cool story. Of course you art is just great. I really enjoy this series.