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Olufunke, the One Who Never Lies, an African Folk 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.

Olufunke in collage illustration

Olufunke in collage illustration

Fairy Tales and Folk 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. I had some trouble with Amazon saying they wouldn’t carry my book because of the illustrations, 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. Recently, I discovered that Amazon does have the paperback listed after all but not the ebook.

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 fifteenth letter in the new book for the letter O.

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

— Mo Willems, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Thumbnail Roughs for Olufunke

Thumbnail Roughs for Olufunke

Olufunke, The One Who Never Lies, An African Folk Tale

Long ago there lived a young man named Olufunke. All throughout the land, people would talk of him and remark that he was so unusual because he never lied. One day the king heard about Olufunke and insisted on meeting him. When Olufunke came before the king, he asked if it was true that Olufunke never lied. “It is true.”

“And you will never lie all your life?” the king asked.

“I’m sure I never will.”

The king decided that to have a person who never lies near him would be a good thing so he asked Olufunke to stay as a member of his court.

After many days, the king decided to test Olufunke to see if he would never lie. The king called Olufunke and with a large crowd of his servants and retinue around him, the king prepared to go on a hunting trip. When Olufunke came the king had his left foot in the stirrup of his horse, preparing to mount for his hunting trip.

“Olufunke, I want you to go to the summer palace and tell my queen to prepare a large luncheon for I will be there to lunch with her. And you can stay and have lunch with us.”

Olufunke bowed and left at once to meet with the queen at the summer palace. The king laughed. Taking his foot out of the stirrup he said to himself, now that Olufunke will be a liar because I am not going hunting after all and I will not see the queen until tomorrow.

When Olufunke came to the summer palace and met with the queen, he bowed low and said, “Majesty, maybe you should prepare a feast for luncheon, and maybe you shouldn’t. The king may be coming to eat with you and maybe he won’t.”

The queen was perplexed. “Well, will he or won’t he be coming?”

“I don’t know. When I departed his left foot was in the stirrup. I don’t know if he put his right foot in the stirrup or his left foot on the ground after I left.”

Just in case, the queen prepared a luncheon and everyone waited. The next day the king came and was very happy. “That Olufunke lied to you, my queen. What do you think of him now?”

The queen told the king all that Olufunke said to her and then the king knew that he not only told the truth, he also told only what he saw with his own eyes and not what he was told to say. Olufunke was much wiser than the king had first suspected. After that, he knew Olufunke would be the best advisor and wise man in his court.

Refined thumbnail sketch

Refined thumbnail sketch

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references of African boys. In the end, I used a good stock photo I had found in Pixabay of an African boy. 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

“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 One Who Never Lies. I expect to be finished with the whole book and ready to publish by early next year.

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. This collage contains 3 owls, a heart on his forehead, a farmhouse between his eyebrows, a kestrel on one cheek, and a cave painting of a deer on the other.

Color Composition

Color Composition

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 for sure that the king had tricked him into lying but he was too wise for that. We could all learn a lesson from Olufunke.

I hope you like my story and my fairy tale alphabet book idea. If you are interested you can purchase the first one alphabet book on Lulu or Amazon. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Finished collage

Finished collage

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 01, 2021:

Treathyl FOX,

I agree. It has been fun to research these and even more fun to expose people to them that may never have heard of them before. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Treathyl FOX from Austin, Texas on October 24, 2020:

I do so very much enjoy your HUBs about fairy tales. I know most Western fairy tales. But I think children (and adults like me) should be exposed to more fairy tales from around the world.

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

Your guess is as good as mine, Nelvia. I think that places like Amazon use people overseas to do any office work anyway. All they have here that I can see are warehouses for the distribution of goods.

Blessings,

Denise

Nelvia from Atlanta on October 24, 2020:

Well their losses LuLu's gain. Thinking all these places run on AI anymore - where do real people work?

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

Nelvia,

You know it's all automated over there and the computer algorithms couldn't figure out that I was doing a fully illustrated children's book. Since you simply cannot talk to a real person, you have only one recourse. Go somewhere else. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Nelvia from Atlanta on October 24, 2020:

Both a wonderful story, wishing we had more people in the world with his morale compass. But as always your illustration is Captivating. What was Amazon thinking?

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

Devika Primic,

I'm very happy that you enjoyed this story. It is unusual. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Mary Norton,

I appreciate your thoughts so much. We should definitely have more people like Olufunke. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Marie Flint,

I'm going to have to go check out The One You Don't See Coming. I haven't heard of that one before but it sounds great. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Binoy,

I thought it was a good story too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Linda Crampton,

Yes, I had so many reference photos to choose from but I thought this one looked very proud of himself about being truthful. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Rosina S Khan,

I'm glad you liked the moral as much as I did. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

RoadMonkey,

I agree absolutely. I wish more people could be like that too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Peggy Woods,

He is to be admired. I would love to have never told lies. I'm ashamed to say I have lied before thinking it would keep me out of trouble. But it always made things worse. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Millicent Okello,

I'm so happy you found this story to be captivating. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Linda Lum,

I'm afraid he wouldn't last as an American politician because those he ran against would lie about him. It never ends. He must sleep well at night though, don't you think? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

MG Singh emge,

I'm not so good at narration and quotations so I'm glad you liked this fairy tale. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Ankita B,

I have often gotten myself into trouble by repeating what I was told instead of what I knew to be true. This boy taught me a good lesson as well. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primic on October 16, 2020:

Denise, this is fantastic! Folktales from you have been thus far most impressive! Illustrations, are great and I enjoyed reading this unique story.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 15, 2020:

How I wish we have more of Olufunke in our midst. As usual, Denise, you did a great job of the illustration.

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

I think Olufunke sensed that something was not quite right when the king asked him to have the queen prepare the luncheon. Who would stand with one foot in the stirrup while talking? How awkward! Nevertheless, Olufunke, delivered the message exactly how he saw it, which was much more astute than any average messenger. In the end, the king's plan to trick his new advisor backfired and, in essence, the king appeared ridiculous.

I remember another African folk tale called "The One You Don't See Coming" that attempts to explain how we fall into sleep. Fun stuff!

Thank you for sharing this, Denise. I truly appreciate your work.

Binoy from Delhi on October 14, 2020:

Interesting story. Thanks for sharing it.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 14, 2020:

I love the expression on the boy's face. Olufunke was a wise and clever boy!

Rosina S Khan on October 14, 2020:

Olufunke not only didn't tell lies but also was very wise so that the King couldn't trick him. On the contrary, the King realized that he would be the best advisor in his court. That is what I love about the story. It really has a good moral. Thank you for sharing, Denise.

RoadMonkey on October 14, 2020:

That was a great story and a very wise boy. More of us would do well to follow his example.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 14, 2020:

Bill Holland,

I know I'm such a child at heart but interestingly enough, so are a lot of people. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 14, 2020:

Liz Westwood,

On many of them, I add a background but on this one, I didn't want anything to distract from the little boy's face. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 14, 2020:

Lorna Lamon,

I thought it was enchanting also. If more people repeated what they knew and saw instead of what someone tells them to say, the world would be a better place to live. Wouldn't it? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 14, 2020:

Eric Dierker,

It is a wonderful thing to brighten someone's life with art. I'm so happy. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 14, 2020:

I enjoyed the meaning of this folk tale, as well as your collage art. Olufunke was very wise indeed!

Millicent Okello from Nairobi, Kenya on October 14, 2020:

Wow. I love stories and tjis, it captured my attention. I found it interesting and captivating all through.beautiful.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 14, 2020:

What a delightful story; we need that little boy to run for public office. Your creation of Olufunke is sweet; he looks very happy and self-assured. Thank you for sharing your creative process with us.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on October 14, 2020:

Hi! haven't read any Afrikan folk tales so this was an interesting foray. Interesting tale and well narrated.

Ankita B on October 14, 2020:

This is a beautiful tale, Denise. It was wonderful to know how Olufunke delivered the message so wisely and cleverly. I loved the illustrations too.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2020:

The combination of a charming story and your brilliant drawings is just irresistible, my friend. This is one of my favorited series on HP. Keep them coming. They bring a smile to my face.

Blessings always

bill

Liz Westwood from UK on October 14, 2020:

This is a lovely tale that I had not heard before. Your illustration is great and the explanation of how you made it is interesting.

Lorna Lamon on October 14, 2020:

I can well believe that the King would value such an honest person and wise person in his court. This is an enchanting tale with a 'feel good' ending, and as usual your wonderful artwork is such a joy to see. Take care Denise and stay safe.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 13, 2020:

I just studied the evolving image of the child. Something strange caught my eye -- which of itself is strange. My son is Vietnamese, but he has morphed into just him. Your fine child here morphed into a boy. He became every boy. What a delight. You tickle my fancy to love, your art brightens my thoughts.

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

Ivana Divac,

My pleasure. In a day like today, how valuable it would be to have someone around who never lies, right? I loved it too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Ivana Divac from Serbia on October 13, 2020:

I really liked this one! Your writing style and illustrations are impeccable, as always. This is one of the stories I've never read before, so I really enjoyed finding out something new. This is truly a great story of wisdom and pure heart. I liked the ending, especially because the king saw how worthy Olufunke would be as an advisor. Thank you so much for sharing!

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