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Drakestail, a French 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.

Drakestail finished illustration.

Drakestail finished illustration.

Alphabet Book

Last year, I finished 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 “gutter”, 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 acknowledge that Amazon isn’t the only self-publishing venue 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 the happy dance at my success, I decided that there were a lot more fairy tales out there, enough to make a whole series using global fairy tales and folk tales. Thus the conception 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 third letter in the new book for the letter D.

Duck photo references

Duck photo references

Drakestail, a French Fairy Tale

A very handsome duck named Drakestail found a coin one day. He was very happy but then he heard that the King was in need and requesting money and promising to pay back any who lent it to him. Being a very faithful duck, Drakestail gave his coin to the King and waited for the promised day when it would be repaid. When the day finally came, Drakestail headed for the palace. Along the way, he sang a little song to himself, “Quack, quack quack! When shall I get my money back?”

Along the way, he met some friends. Fox stopped him and asked, “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to see the King.”

“Can I come too?”

“It is a long way.”

“I’ll make myself small and you can carry me in your pocket.”

So Drakestail agreed to take the small fox. After a while, he met his friend Beaver who asked, “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to see the King.”

“Can I come too? I have a ladder that could come in handy.”

“It is a long way.”

“I’ll make myself small and you can carry me in your pocket.”

Drakestail agreed and off they went until he met his friend Toad. “Where are you going,” Toad asked.

“I’m going to see the King.”

“Can I come too? I have a bucket of water that could come in handy.”

“It is a long way.”

“I’ll make myself small and you can carry me in your pocket.”

After agreeing, again Drakestail set off and soon met Bear. “Where are you going,” Bear asked.

“I’m going to see the King.”

“Can I come too? I have a honey bee’s nest with honey that could come in handy.”

“It is a long way.”

“I’ll make myself small and you can carry me in your pocket.”

When Drakestail finally reached the palace, he asked to see the King. Drakestail sang, “Quack, quack quack! When shall I get my money back?” The King has spent all the money he had collected from the people and there was none to pay back so naturally, he didn’t want to see Drakestail. He ordered that Drakestail be thrown into the chicken coop where the chickens attacked. At that moment, Fox jumped out of his pocket and killed all the chickens.

He returned to the King and sang, “Quack, quack quack! When shall I get my money back?” The King then ordered him to be thrown into a deep well. At that moment, Beaver jumped out of his pocket with his ladder and they climbed out.

Again Drakestail went to the King and sang, “Quack, quack quack! When shall I get my money back?” The King was angry now and ordered Drakestail to be thrown into the fiery furnace. At that moment, Toad jumped out of his pocket with his bucket of water and put the furnace fire out.

Drakestail returned to the King and sang, “Quack, quack quack! When shall I get my money back?” The furious King now tried to stomp on Drakestail. At that moment, Bear jumped out of his pocket with his bee’s nest and the bees began to sting the King. He swatted at them and finally threw himself out of the window and died.

After searching the palace, Drakestail could not find any coins anywhere. At that moment, the town’s people came with a petition for the King to return their money and finding the king was dead, they rejoiced. They decided to make Drakestail the new King and lived happily ever after.

Thumbnail possibilities

Thumbnail possibilities

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references of ducks and coins for this illustration. In the end I ended up using a good photo I took myself of a duck to get the angle I wanted. I decided the duck needed to wear a vest with pockets and the bees round out the illustration and give it balance. I hope you enjoy seeing my progress on the collage. After finishing the collage I simply put a brown background in Photoshop.

Value Sketch

Value Sketch

Fairy tales help us earth-bound people to be able to soar to the stars on the wings of imagination.

— Denise McGill

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 Drakestail or Quackling. 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 even circulars. Often I will add things into a collage you can't see unless you are looking for it like hidden pictures. In this collage, you will find a flying owl, a white seal cub, and in the letter D, Indian corn and a tomato doing yoga.

Color Composition

Color Composition

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

— Albert Einstein

Final Thoughts

Did you like this story’s ending? I found that children love repetition and alliteration.

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.

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 20, 2020:

Peggy Woods,

I love finding new and unusual fairy tales. I'm currently working on the collage illustration for a Japanese fairy tale that is so cute I can't wait to share it. About a dog who finds treasure for his master. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 20, 2020:

Love, love, love your imagery! I had never heard that fairy tale and it is a cute one.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 13, 2020:

William Kovacic,

I'm so glad. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on July 12, 2020:

Another fun tale, Denise, and of course, the artwork is wonderful!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 11, 2020:

Devika Primić,

I'm glad you are learning something new. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 10, 2020:

Denise French tales are amazing in the way you tell it here I learned a lot of the different tales from you. Well done on another well written hub.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 09, 2020:

Patricia Scott,

I love picture books too but because I love making the pictures. Or maybe because I always loved looking at the pictures. Perhaps I never really grew up. Growing up is overrated anyway. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 09, 2020:

RoadMonkey,

So true my friend. Common sense is a rare commodity these days. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 09, 2020:

Linda Crampton,

I'm overjoyed that you find these enjoyable. It's always a treat to find a fairy tale you haven't heard before. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 08, 2020:

I would like to see the book..

I am a huge fan of art in children's books( I guess that is because I was a teacher for 42 years and often went on a picture walk through books with children). Stay safe and well. Angels are headed your way. ps

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 08, 2020:

Linda Lum,

How interesting. I don't I've never heard it before I found it for the letter D. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

RoadMonkey on July 08, 2020:

What a great story. I have never heard that one before. Drakestail had a lot of friends and common sense. Those will take you a long way!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2020:

Your duck illustration is lovely, Denise. You've shared yet another fairy story that I've never heard of before. Your articles in the series are very enjoyable to read.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 08, 2020:

greg cain,

It's true, he didn't deserve to be king, did he? I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 08, 2020:

Bill Holland,

I don't mind redundancy if you really like my work. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 08, 2020:

Ann Carr,

I do like to use the warm colors for a happy feeling for children. I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 08, 2020:

Eric Dierker,

Me too. I'm glad you like the story and the art. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on July 08, 2020:

Your little duck is quite dapper looking with this smart vest. I do believe he has a slight grin.

I vaguely remember the phrase "quack quack quack when will I get my money back" don't don't remember the story. Maybe it was read to me many MANY years ago.

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on July 08, 2020:

Denise - the artwork is outstanding, the story is so entertaining, this is another of those stories I'd love to read to my grandchildren. I, too, enjoyed the ending because I found the sovereign to be quite unsatisfactory in every respect. I believe he got his just desserts!

Well done, Denise.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2020:

I have run out of superlatives for your work, Denise. Sorry, but this wordsmith can't think of more. :)

Ann Carr from SW England on July 08, 2020:

Children do indeed love repetition and a structure they can follow. It also gives scope for discussion about all the various characters, about helping others, and about being honest. Brilliant! I did like the ending. Many fairy tales have rather drastic remedies for the rogue of the story but this is just matter-of-fact and children like a simple, satisfying solution.

This is a straightforward story and your artwork, as always, is outstanding - what more could a young, or older, reader want? I think the collage makes the picture softer, therefore warmer, and more comforting for smaller children.

Ann

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 07, 2020:

I sure hope he gets it all together and rules properly. Very fun read. Your art is outstanding.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 07, 2020:

Lorna Lamon,

He will certainly be more patient and respectful of other people's money. I think he will make a good king too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 07, 2020:

Rochelle Ann De Zoysa,

I'm very happy you agree with the repetition of this story. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Lorna Lamon on July 07, 2020:

I loved this tale Denise and in particular the ending. A great idea to give the duck a waistcoat which I feel adds to his character. He will make a great King.

Rochelle Ann De Zoysa from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on July 07, 2020:

It's interesting and creative :) Yes kids like repetition, specially 4 years and younger ones to my knowledge :) Keep writing :) All the very best and may God Bless you!