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Father Frost, A Russian 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.

F is for Father Frost

F is for Father Frost

The FairyTale 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. Amazon refused to carry a book with the illustrations stretching across two pages.

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 sixth letter in the new book for the letter F.

“If I’m honest I have to tell you I still read fairy-tales and I like them best of all.”

— Audrey Hepburn

Possible Thumbnail sketches for Father Frost.

Possible Thumbnail sketches for Father Frost.

Father Frost, A Russian Fairy Tale

Long ago there lived a woman and her husband. The woman had both a daughter of her own whom she loved and a stepdaughter, whom she hated. Although the stepdaughter did everything she was asked and tried very hard to please her stepmother, she never seemed able to do so.

As it happens, the land became plagued by famine and the little family began to be in need. One day, the woman ordered her husband to take his daughter, the hated child out into the winter woods, and leave her there to die. Because there was no food left, the man thought it may be the kindest thing and so he obeyed his wife. He took his daughter deep in the forest, kissed her on the forehead, and left her there.

After her father left, the girl began to weep as if her heart would break. This attracted the attention of Morozko or Father Frost. He was a bitter cold man and scolded the girl for her blubbering noise. The girl dried her eyes and asked if there was anything she could do for Father Frost. She was kind and polite and kept his house clean for him. After a couple of weeks, Father Frost gave the girl a chest full of beautiful jewels, gold, and fancy garments. He told her to take the chest with her when her father came to get her.

About this time, the stepmother ordered her husband to go back into the woods and bring back the girl’s body to be buried. She expected that if there were a funeral, the kind neighbors would bring food and gifts to ease their grief. Her husband obeyed and went to the place where he had left his daughter but instead of finding a body there, he found the girl beautifully dressed and happy, waiting for him. Father Frost gave their family dog a voice to see the reaction of the stepmother. While the girl and her father were on their way home, the family dog told the stepmother that the girl was coming and she wasn’t dead. Instead, she was beautiful and happy.

The stepmother was astonished to see the girl alive and well. The girl told them the whole story about how Father Frost gave her gifts. The next day the woman ordered her husband to take her own daughter out to the forest and leave her there just as he had done his daughter so that she also would get gifts. Unlike her sister, when Father Frost appeared, this girl was rude and bad-mannered. She refused to do any chores and so Father Frost let her freeze to death in the snow. When the stepfather came back to bring her home, he found her cold body. The family dog told the woman that her daughter was coming back and there was going to be funeral after all. The woman wept and grieved bitterly.

Value Sketch for Father Frost

Value Sketch for Father Frost

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references of girls and old men in capes, plus snowy forests for this illustration. In the end I ended up using a good photo I took myself of a girl I knew who posed for me to get the viewpoint I wanted. I decided to use a close up view of the girl and the old man to give a different look to this page. I hope you enjoy seeing my progress on the collage. Sometimes after finishing the collage, I need to make a background layer using Photoshop but I felt this page didn’t need one.

Color Composition

Color Composition

“The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.”

— W.H. Auden

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 Father Frost. There were several different endings to this story but I liked the one I chose best. 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 like hidden pictures. In this collage, you will find in Father Frost’s hood, a Native American woman, a princess with a unicorn, a cowgirl, swans in flight, and an old man in his beard. The girl has a covered wagon with oxen in her hair.

Finished Collage

Finished Collage

I love fairy tales because I think that behind fairy tales, there is always a meaning.

— Monica Bellucci

Final Thoughts

Did you like this story’s ending? I thought it was a bit harsh but the mother wanted a funeral so badly she finally got one.

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 26, 2020:

William Kovacic,

My pleasure. Fairy tales have something to teach or they wouldn't be around for so long. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on July 26, 2020:

Sad, Denise, but there still was a moral - something we can all learn from. Thank you as we continue to move through your second book of fairy tales.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 25, 2020:

Ann Carr,

True, it is a challenge. But then I love a challenge. I'm glad you think I met the goal. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 25, 2020:

Abby Slutsky,

Thank you for your kind assessment. Really, I show all the choices of thumbnails because I wanted to show the process and if I only sketched out one possibility I probably would have missed some idea hidden in the recesses of my own imagination. I have the sketch out several (5 to 10 possibilities) and then stand back and choose the one I think will fit in the book best. I have a better-informed choice that way. Also, that explains why I don't put much detail in the rough thumbnails, because most of those are rejected. This is the way I work for clients too. But I allow them to choose the rough poses they like the best for each illustration. I'm just giving you a window into the artist's process. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 24, 2020:

Linda Crampton,

It's true. Many fairy tales have desperately sad elements. I hated the Chinese fairy tales especially because the best ones are very sad for the heroine. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 24, 2020:

Mary Norton,

I appreciate that. There are 19 more pages to go so I have a wait before it's all done. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 24, 2020:

Ivana Divac,

I'm so humbled and happy that you like my illustrations so much. I appreciate you saying so more than you know. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Ann Carr from SW England on July 24, 2020:

Yes, a very harsh story. I'm not keen on such endings.

Still beautifully illustrated, of course. As well as wonderful pictures, you also have a knack of reflecting the mood of the stories you're relating. That must be difficult but you succeed.

Ann

Abby Slutsky from America on July 23, 2020:

I wasn't sure whether you were using all the pictures or wanted us to supply an opinion. It was interesting, I liked the one you used best because I felt the alphabet letter was the most prominent. I enjoyed the story and wish you luck with your book. How lucky that you are so talented with both the pen and the paintbrush.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 23, 2020:

Peggy Woods,

I'm glad you think so. I did try to capture the emotion of the moment. It is hard to do with collage. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 23, 2020:

MG Singh,

It is different, isn't it? I enjoyed it too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 23, 2020:

I loved your illustrations, as always, and I enjoyed reading the fairy tale. I did find the ending a bit harsh, but that seems to be the case in many fairy tales. I often find sad elements in the stories.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 23, 2020:

What a beautiful fairy tale. Goodness always wins. Such a talented illustration. Good luck with this publication.

Ivana Divac from Serbia on July 23, 2020:

I'm a big fan of Russian fairy tales, so this article made me really happy! Like always, I enjoy everything you publish. One thing I've never complimented before are the illustrations, and I really should. All of them are so well done. Your talent and creativity are an amazing combination!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 23, 2020:

I had never heard or read this particular fairy tale. Your artistry perfectly illustrates old man Father Frost, and the frightened little girl.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on July 23, 2020:

I love all fairy tales and you open a wonderful world with these tales. This Russian story was good.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 23, 2020:

Liz Westwood,

It is a bit gruesome in places. I kind of hesitated to use it for my alphabet book. I don't want to traumatize children but there is a good vs evil element here. I do appreciate that good behavior and kindness are rewarded and selfishness is punished. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 23, 2020:

Eric Dierker,

That's one on me. I had never read this one before I found it to be perfect for the letter F. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 23, 2020:

Bill Holland,

For you to say "brilliant" to me is such a huge compliment, I can hardly stand it. I'm blushing. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Liz Westwood from UK on July 23, 2020:

Some elements of this tale sound vaguely familiar. It's a chilling one! Great illustration as ever.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 23, 2020:

Another treasure from you. I think I read this growing up. And I should read it again. Thanks for the push.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 23, 2020:

Ridiculously clever, and I mean that as a great compliment. I absolutely love the process of taking little bits and pieces, putting them together, and forming a cohesive piece. Brilliant!

Blessings always

bill

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 22, 2020:

Lorna Lamon,

I hoped I captured emotion. It isn't easy to do with collage. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Lorna Lamon on July 22, 2020:

A dark side to this fairy tale with a moral to the ending. You have captured the expressions of fear and anger in the collage - so realistic. Another wonderful piece of artwork.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 22, 2020:

Devika Primić,

Well, I wouldn't say perfection. I haven't achieved that. But I do strive for excellence. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 22, 2020:

HI Denise such fairy tales are just incredible! Through your illustrations I see perfection and great interest in fairytales.