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Hanasaka Jiisan, A Japanese 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.

Illustration for Hanasaka Jiisan, A Japanese Fairy Tale

Illustration for Hanasaka Jiisan, A Japanese Fairy Tale

The Fairy Tale 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. 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 noticed that there were a lot more fairy tales out there that I didn’t use, 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 eighth letter in the new book for the letter H.

“If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”

— Mo Willems, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Thumbnail Roughs for Hanasaka Jiisan

Thumbnail Roughs for Hanasaka Jiisan

Hanasaka Jiisan, A Japanese Folk Tale

Hanasaka Jiisan means the story of the old man who made withered trees blossom. As the story goes a good and kind but poor old couple had a dog. This dog was much loved and treated like one of the family since they had no children. One day, the dog dug in the garden, and there the old couple found a box of gold coins. They were very happy and paid all their bills and bought a few small items they had always needed and wanted.

The news got around that the old couple’s dog had found gold coins and their neighbor became jealous. He thought that the dog must have the ability to find treasure, so he asked to borrow the dog. The kind old couple permitted the neighbor to borrow the dog for the night. That night the dog dug in the neighbor’s garden, but all that was there were only old bones. The neighbor became very angry at the dog and in a rage, he killed him.

The next day, the neighbor returned the dead dog and explained that the dog just died suddenly. The old couple was very sad and they buried their beloved dog under the fig tree in the garden where he had found the treasure. That night, the old man dreamed that the dog told him to chop down the fig tree and make a mortar from it. In the morning, the old man told his wife what he had dreamed of. “You must do as the dog has told you,” she said. So the old man chopped down the fig tree and made a mortar from the wood just as the dog had said. When they used the mortar, the rice put into it turned into gold. Again, the couple was very grateful to their beloved dog and the news got around that the dead dog had helped them again.

The jealous neighbor heard of it and asked to borrow the mortar, and the kind old couple let him. But when the neighbor put rice into the mortar it didn’t turn to gold as it had for the good couple. Instead, it turned into rotten berries. The neighbor was so angry that he smashed the mortar and burned it to ashes. The next day he returned the ashes and said it had accidentally fallen into the fire.

That night, the old man dreamed again. This time the dog told him to sprinkle the ashes onto the ground around certain withered cherry trees. When the old man did that the next day, the trees began to blossom beautifully. Just then the daimyō (the feudal landlord) was passing by and marveled at the blooming cherry trees that had once been withered. He was so enchanted by them, he gave the old couple many expensive gifts. Of course, hearing of this, the jealous neighbor took some of the ashes and sprinkled it on his cherry trees but instead of blooming, the ashes blew into the daimyō’s eyes. The angry daimyõ had that neighbor man thrown into prison.

Refined Thumbnail Sketch

Refined Thumbnail Sketch

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references of dogs and old men, boxes of treasure for this illustration. In the end, I ended up using a good stock image photo I found of a dog digging. I hope you enjoy seeing my progress on the collage. Sometimes after finishing the collage, I need to make a background layer using Photoshop. I decided this one needed light brown gradient background added.

Value Sketch

Value Sketch

“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 the Hanasaka Jiisan. I expect to be finished with the whole book 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. This collage contains two eyes, an old man’s face, a horse head, some band members in uniform with instruments, a white dragon, horses pulling a plow, two old paintings with the frame, and half a butterfly.

Color Composition

Color Composition

Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it.

— Alexandre Dumas

Finished Collage illustration

Finished Collage illustration

Final Thoughts

Did you like this story’s ending? I always appreciate it when the bad guy gets punished. Many of the Grimm fairy tales don’t have that satisfying punishment so this one seemed a pleasure to me.

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

James C Moore from The Great Midwest on September 04, 2020:

I always like to read stories with dogs in them. You're on to something with these series.

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

Linda Crampton,

I thought it was an interesting fairy tale too. I love researching these and finding unusual ones. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 19, 2020:

You've shared an interesting fairy tale. I've never read anything like it before. It was sad that the dog died but great that he continued to help the couple. As always, thank you for sharing the story and the art. They are a great combination.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 19, 2020:

Devika Primić,

Yes, it is a study on kindness. The kindness was rewarded over and over even though the evil threatened to kill and destroy everything good. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 19, 2020:

A Japanese fairy tale is different and I see that you have your heart in fairy tales. A well put together hub on an interesting and informative to me. This is an understanding of kindness.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 18, 2020:

Liz Westwood,

Well, the thumbnails weren't supposed to be more than sketches but I'm glad you like them. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Liz Westwood from UK on August 18, 2020:

I am pleased to see that the neighbour got what he deserved. Your illustration is very good. The thumbnail drawings could be turned into cartoons. They are so good.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 18, 2020:

Peggy Woods,

I use rubber cement. I've been toying with the idea of sealing the work with Mod Podge after I'm done but I haven't done it yet. What do you think?

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 18, 2020:

RoadMonkey,

Yes, he did. Now that's a seriously loyal doggie! Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 18, 2020:

That is a cute fairy tale where kindness was rewarded, and evil was punished. Your artwork is amazing! What type of glue or fixative do you use when making your collages?

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 18, 2020:

Abby Slutsky,

I love the idea Abby. I need to remember to do that. I have certainly been keeping notes about each of the collages more than before because people here in HubPages have been interested in finding the hidden pictures. I'm sure the kids would too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

RoadMonkey on August 18, 2020:

That was a great tale and not the usual sort of story either. That dog was determined to help the old couple even after he died!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 18, 2020:

Mary Norton,

I agree with you but I do know some people who don't want to see anyone punished. So there is that. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 18, 2020:

Linda Lum,

It gets challenging when each one I try to outshine the last one I did. I'm glad it's hard to pick. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 18, 2020:

Bill Holland,

I know you have seen quite a few so I take that as a huge compliment. I'm celebrating 6 years with HubPages this month but I know you have seen a few more than that here. Thanks for all the applause. I doff my hat to you, sir.

Blessings,

Denise

Abby Slutsky from America on August 18, 2020:

Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed this story. When you mentioned the items in your collage, I went back to look for them. That might be something you want to mention in the front of the book for children to look for things in the pictures. (Maybe even five an example in the front.) Then maybe in the back, you could have a list of the items for each picture. It would be a great way to help children pay attention to details and improve their observation skills. (This is the teacher in me talking. I dont know what you think of that idea.)

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 18, 2020:

Who doesn't want to see an evil person punished? I enjoyed the fairy tale so much. Lovely illustrations, too.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on August 18, 2020:

Each collage that you create is my favorite. Last week's was my favorite then, and now I have a new favorite. I can't pick one. I adore them all. There is so much detail. And, what a great story.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 18, 2020:

A wonderful story of kindness we could all learn from. This is one of my favorite series on HP, and I've seen a few over the years. A huge round of applause coming your way for your talent.

Blessings always

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 17, 2020:

MG Singh,

It did turn out to be a nice story. I felt bad for the poor dog though. What a faithful loyal canine he must have been. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 17, 2020:

Eric Dierker,

I'm really humbled when you say my art is a marvel. Thanks for that. It means so much to me. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 17, 2020:

Lorna Lamon,

What a charmer your dog must be. They do like to dig. I always had a garden whenever we could and didn't want a "digging" dog so I usually got dogs who were crippled or born with some defect. We had one poodle named Hoppy who was born with a twisted from paw but could hop pretty fast when he had a mind to. But that front pay prevented him from digging, as much as he would have liked to. He just couldn't manage it. So my garden was safe. But no squirrel was. It was a real joy watching him hop through the fields after another ground squirrel, his hears flying out like airplane wings. He managed to catch one once and it only served to fuel his fervor to keep after them. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 17, 2020:

Ann Carr,

It gives me great joy to know people are reading it and enjoying it now even before I publish it in book form. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 17, 2020:

Pinky Sharma,

I'm glad you and your daughter liked my little fairy tale. I will read your story too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

MG Singh emge from Singapore on August 17, 2020:

Never read a Japanese fairy tale before. Turned out to be a nice story. Thank you.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 17, 2020:

You would be all amazed at my home in the happiness you just gave us.

What a wonderful tale you have brought us. It will give me pause to do better. Your art is a marvel.

Lorna Lamon on August 17, 2020:

I enjoyed this tale and it's so true, kindness pays. The ending was perfect and a fitting punishment. The collage reminds me of my own dog burying yet another bone, his tongue lolling in the same way. Another wonderful tale Denise, and the collage is so realistic.

Ann Carr from SW England on August 17, 2020:

I do like the ending to this story. He deserved to be punished, not just for his actions but for his lies.

You have such an eye for the blending of colour and composition. The illustrations are kind on the eye but have a liveliness to them - that dog is definitely moving! You are certainly a gifted artist as well as a good writer, Denise. I hope your series sells well.

Ann

Pinky Sharma from Kota Rajasthan, India on August 17, 2020:

Such a truthful and meaning full story. A bad guy should be punished!!

Love this story, I read it loud and tell my daughter about it.

I have also written a small and true story here. https://hubpages.com/literature/Like-Father-Like-D...