Updated date:

King Kojata, a Polish 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.

King Kojata, A Polish Fairy Tale

King Kojata, A Polish Fairy Tale

Fairy Tales From Around The World

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 eleventh letter in the new book for the letter K.

Thumbnail possibilities for King Kojata

Thumbnail possibilities for King Kojata

King Kojata, a Polish Fairy Tale

In a certain county long ago, King Kojata had a very long beard, so long that it hung past his waist. He and his queen lived together happily but they longed for a son. One day the king went out to hunt in the forest and after a long time, grew thirsty. Finding a spring, he bent down to have a drink when a creature in the water grabbed him by the beard and refused to let go until the king promised to give him his most precious possession from the palace. Finally, the king agreed. When he returned to the palace, he found that the queen had a son.

He told no one about the strange creature in the water and his promise. After many years, the prince was out hunting when he came upon an old man who told him that it was time for the king to honor his promise. When the prince returned and told his father about the strange old man, the king finally revealed to him the story and his promise. The prince decided that he must pay the promised debt and keep his father’s promise.

After a hike through the woods, the prince came upon a small lake with twelve geese lazily swimming by. On the shore were twelve dresses, so the prince took one and hid. When the birds came ashore, they changed into beautiful girls and dressed, all but the twelfth goose. When the prince came out of hiding and showed the goose that he had her dress, she begged him to give it back. She said she would reward him if he did, so he returned her dress and she changed into a beautiful girl. She told the prince that she was the youngest daughter of the creature in the water who made the bargain with his father. She said that he was the king of the lake and when he reached her father, he was to approach him on his knees without any fear.

When he came to the creature, he was afraid because the creature was very fearsome and howled terribly. But he showed no fear and came toward him on his knees as the girl had told him. When he had nearly reached him, the girl’s father laughed and said it was a good thing that he hadn’t been frightened. To pay the debt of his father, the creature told the prince he would have to perform several tasks. The next morning the king of the lake ordered the prince to build him a marble palace in a single day. This was going to be impossible but the young girl came to him disguised as a bee and told him she would do it. The next day, he found that the palace had been built. The king of the lake was surprised but pleased and then ordered him to pick his youngest daughter from her twelve sisters. The girl had told him earlier that she would be the goose with a ladybug on her shoulder. When the geese came out, he knew just which one was the youngest daughter. On the third day, the king of the lake ordered the prince to make him a pair of boots. The prince didn’t know how he could accomplish this task as he was no shoemaker. That evening, the youngest daughter came to him and suggested they run away together. She brought food and made it look like the bed was slept in and they left.

The next day their flight was discovered and the king’s servants were ordered after them. The young daughter changed herself into a river and the prince into a bridge. When the servants crossed the bridge they could not find any tracks to follow so they returned to the king. He told them that the river and the bridge were the runaways and sent the servants out again. This time the maiden had turned herself and the prince into a dense forest and the servants became helplessly lost. When they returned to the king, he decided to go after them himself. This time the maiden had changed herself into a church and the prince into a priest. When the king came by he demanded to know if the priest had seen the prince and his daughter. He told the king that they had passed and sent their greetings. Finally, the king gave up looking and turned back.

The girl and the prince returned to the palace of his father the king and later they married.

You can see I decided to flip the drawing instead of using the original thumbnail

You can see I decided to flip the drawing instead of using the original thumbnail

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references for boys and geese. In the end, I used a good stock photo I had found in Pixabay of a boy and a photo I had taken of a goose. I wanted this goose to seem unusual and a bit magical so I used lots of purples. 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 didn’t need anything more.

Value Sketch

Value Sketch

Hidden Pictures

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. The collage contains a submarine and some fish, a couple of snowflakes, a white horse, and a frosty blue flower in the water. There are a book and a fairy in the weeds, a sleeping princess on the goose, a clock, and a lady on the boy’s shoulder.

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

— Alexandre Dumas

The Color Composition

The Color Composition

Final Thoughts

Did you like this story’s ending? I thought the prince was very brave and deserved to be rewarded after facing the creature in the water.

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 September 23, 2020:

Mary Norton,

It is hard but I love the challenge of it. It has so many different layers (meaning you can look at it some many different ways.) Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Denise, I really like the ending. I love joyful endings. I also appreciate your description of how you made your collage. One artist I know also uses several pictures to create a composition.

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

Fay Favored,

There are so many good ones I don't think I could pick a favorite yet. Some make me laugh, some make me cry, but all of them have a moral where you can learn something from them. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Devika Primić,

I too have a curious mind. I love these fairy tales. They are expanding my appreciation of people around the world. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Liz Westwood,

I thought it was unusual too. How many times do you see a man with a beard so long it reaches his waist? Not often. How often do you see young people who have the fortitude to keep promises even if they aren't the ones who made the promise? Not often at all. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Marie Flint,

That does sound like a lot of fun. We have cattails around the canals and waterways to irrigate the farmland. Not much of them anywhere else. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Fay Favored from USA on September 17, 2020:

Watched your video as you told the story. It turned out so beautiful, as all your work does. I really enjoyed it and cannot wait to show it to my husband. Congratulations on your book. Another amazing piece from your collection. This has to be one of my favorites.

Fay on September 17, 2020:

Watched your video as you told the story. It turned out so beautiful, as all your work does. I really enjoyed it and cannot wait to show it to my husband. Congratulations on your book. Another amazing piece from your collection. This has to be one of my favorites.

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

Linda Crampton,

Thanks. I tried to make it look natural. Sometimes that posing is hard since I haven't any children around here for models with the lockdown and my not getting to visit my grandkids. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 17, 2020:

Denise I enjoy reading your list of fairy tales. Illustrations are lovely and you have a way in sharing your interesting hubs. In detail and tales that add a curious mind to me.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 16, 2020:

Peggy Woods,

I'm a sucker for a happy ending. I feel like a tragedy is such a waste of time. I have enough tragedy in my life not to want to read about others' troubles. It's the child in me. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 16, 2020:

RoadMonkey,

As I do my research for the next Alphabet Book I find there are not only enough fairy tales from around the world for this book #2, but also enough for book #3 and #4. If I let myself go, I could be publishing these fairy tales for the next decade and still not exhaust all the fairy tales. It is amazing that there are so many. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 16, 2020:

Abby Slutsky,

They are fun to read, aren't they? I love a good fairy tale. Maybe I never grew up, or maybe I'm disillusioned with adulthood and so-called adult literature, but give me a good fairy tale and I'm happy. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 16, 2020:

Linda Lum,

I'm so happy you liked it. It gives me great joy to think I am entertaining and bringing happiness to people. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 16, 2020:

Lorna Lamon,

They are very different than the ones we grew up with, aren't they? And yet, I have found that there are common themes that run through them all around the world. Have you noticed? There seems to be a lot of step-mothers. And there are often 3 brothers when the youngest is kind and the older two are harsh and they don't accomplish as much. There are often kings and princesses, etc. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 16, 2020:

Devika Primić,

I do enjoy compiling these fairy tales from around the world. The book makes a great gift for children's libraries. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Liz Westwood from UK on September 16, 2020:

This is a lovely story, unlike any I have heard of before. I appreciated your illustration too.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on September 15, 2020:

Yes, it's a great story. Quite a magical lady, that youngest king-of-the-lake's daughter!

I especially like the artistic patterns in the water and the cattails. There were lots of cattails where I grew up in Michigan. In the fall, the fronds would get soft and fluffy. My brother and I had "cattail fights" with the neighbor children. When we got home, we could see individual piles of frond fluff laying on the road wherever we had a "fight." Such fun!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 15, 2020:

You've shared another interesting fairy tale that I've never heard before. I love the way in which the head of the goose is tilted upwards towards the prince in your illustration..

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 15, 2020:

That is a most unusual tale of promises and subterfuge, but it ends happily for the prince and the girl. As always, your illustrations and collages are beautiful.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 15, 2020:

Nikki Avail,

Thank you, Nikki. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 15, 2020:

Rosina S Khan,

Thank you. I'm so happy you like the art too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 15, 2020:

Eric Dierker,

I hope I'm not too boring doing that. It is my favorite thing, planning, researching, sketching, and then producing art. I hoped it would be fun for others too. Sweet of you to say it is. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

RoadMonkey on September 15, 2020:

A great story again. I keep thinking we will come to the end of great fairy tales but I am glad to see they keep coming along with the fantastic collage illustrations.

Abby Slutsky from America on September 15, 2020:

Thanks for sharing. I look forward to your next tale, These are fun to read.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 15, 2020:

What an unusual story. Your collage is beautiful--I love the colors of the goose and the pond. Thank you for sharing your creative process with us.

Lorna Lamon on September 15, 2020:

These tales from around the world are so different to the fairy tales I grew up with, however, they are equally enchanting. Your illustrations enhance, and bring to life this wonderful tale.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 15, 2020:

Denise your fairy tales are fascinating and unique from Poland. It is never the same without a fairy tale to read to kids and to enjoy the reading session. You must have compiled interesting fairy tales and illustrations are beautiful.

Nikki Avail from Florida on September 14, 2020:

This was beautiful.

Rosina S Khan on September 14, 2020:

This fairy tale is another interesting one, and I like the ending too. It's also nice to see the gradual developments of your illustrations. Good work, Denise!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 14, 2020:

You have done it again. Fabulous illustrations. I appreciate that you take us along not just on the tale but on the journey to the final paintings. Thanks.