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The Queen Who Sought a Drink From a Certain Well, a Fairy Tale From Scotland

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.

Q is for the Queen Who Sought a Drink From a Certain Well.

Q is for the Queen Who Sought a Drink From a Certain Well.

My Children’s Alphabet Book

We are more than halfway through this alphabet, if you have followed me. You probably have noticed by now that I created a children’s alphabet book using fairy tales for each letter of the alphabet. At first I thought I should concentrate on all the old favorites but later I decided to make it a book with fairy tales and folk tales from all over the world. This one is so similar to the Frog Prince that I almost didn’t use it, but had just enough differences that it was interesting. I hope you like it too.

“If you happen to read fairy tales, you will observe that one idea runs from one end of them to the other--the idea that peace and happiness can only exist on some condition. This idea, which is the core of ethics, is the core of the nursery-tales.”

— G.K. Chesterton

I like to gather good photo references to work from.

I like to gather good photo references to work from.

Global Fairytales

When it came to me to be more global I had already created the pages for R is for Little Red Riding Hood and J is for Jack and the Beanstalk. The research for the global fairy tales and folk tales from all over the world certainly added to my workload but in the end, it became very satisfying.

Thumbnail Sketches

Thumbnail Sketches

The Queen Who Sought a Drink From a Certain Well, A Fairy Tale from Scotland

There once was a beautiful queen who became very sick. She had heard that she would be cured if she drank water from a certain well. And so the suffering queen sent her oldest daughter to the well for the healing water. When she got there, she met a large toad that asked her to marry him in exchange for a drink of the water. The oldest princess called him an ugly creature and refused, so he would not allow her to get any water.

Next, the second princess came and the same thing happened. The large toad would not let her have any water unless she agreed to marry him. She left with no water. Finally, the youngest princess tried to get the drink for her mother and agreed to marry the toad for the water. She took the water home and sure enough, it healed her mother.

Just as the youngest princess was getting back to her happy way of life, the toad came to the door of the castle and reminded the young princess of her promise. At first, she wanted to refuse him, but being a girl of her word, decided to hide him behind the door of her bedroom. Then she put him under a bucket, but still, he insisted that she keep her promise. Then she made him a little bed by the fireplace hoping that would appease him. Then she put the bed beside her own bed, but nothing stopped him from reminding her of the promise. He insisted that she had to marry him because she promised. Finally, he told her to take down a rusty sword from the wall behind the bed and cut off his head. She didn’t want to do such a thing but as he insisted, she finally obeyed. That is when he became a handsome young prince. Now she had no problem with him and they later married.

Value Sketch

Value Sketch

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

— Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Collage Illustrations

I didn’t want my book to be just one more “A is for Apple” alphabet book and since I love fairy tales, why not use them instead? After deciding that, I was told I should use my collage method instead of the usual watercolor illustrations that I had originally desired. The collage took much longer but in the end, it made for a very unique book.

I used a photo of my granddaughter Ivy for the reference for this little girl. I also found a photo reference for the well and the toad. I hope you enjoy the video of the collage process.

Color Composition for the illustration

Color Composition for the illustration

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 Queen’s Drink or The Queen Who Sought a Drink From a Certain Well.

My book, The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World, was self-published last year with Lulu.com because Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) refused to allow illustrations that spanned the central gutter of the page. They demanded at least a half-inch margin around the outside, which I could have done, and a half-inch margin through the center margin, which would destroy the look and cohesiveness of the double-page illustrations. I had to find a different publisher who would allow the illustrations the way I wanted them. KDP obviously does not understand illustrated children’s picture books. If you are interested in purchasing the book, go to the Lulu website and put my name or the name of the book in the search.

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”

— Albert Einstein

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. There are faces in the Q as well as a kiwi.

Finished illustration

Finished illustration

Final Thoughts

I hope you like my story and my fairy tale alphabet book idea. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Peggy Woods,

It reminds me so much of the Frog Prince but with different twists. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 31, 2020:

What a sweet little model, your granddaughter, made for this image! I had never heard this fairy tale before reading it here. You are expanding my fairy tale horizons.

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

Liz Westwood,

I'm glad to have presented the story to you. I love fairy tales and I think we can learn a lot from them. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

MG Singh,

It's very kind of you to say. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Linda Crampton,

I'm so glad you like my work. It means a lot to me. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Nithya Venkat,

I'm so happy you liked this story. I love happy endings too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Liz Westwood from UK on March 20, 2020:

You have done an amazing illustration for this tale. I recognised some parts of the story, but had not read it in this format before.

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

Devika Primić,

I so appreciate your confidence in my work. I'm glad you like the illustrations and the stories. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Marie Flint,

I'm so tickled to have captured your fancy. I feel quite privileged. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

MG Singh emge from Singapore on March 19, 2020:

Denise, you have excellent talent of creating lovely stories and illustrations that are a delight. Thanks for the article.

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

You've created a charming illustration, Denise. I always enjoy looking at your art and reading another fairy tale in your collection.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 19, 2020:

I enjoyed reading the fairytale with a happy ending. Your illustrations are so beautiful! Great work!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 18, 2020:

Hi Denise an interesting publication and worth a read. Your ideas of illustrations are beautiful and creative. Such tales are good for all ages and entertaining too. Well done on your publishing on Lulu. Please further me details on the process with Lulu email me if you have time dprimic@gmail.com

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on March 17, 2020:

I don't think you'll have any problem with a similar storyline repeating because children love to hear the same story over and over again. Although, if you remember I sent you the video link of Kitten Witch, an alternative story could have been created from that by changing the cat's name to one that started with Q (or whatever letter you're lacking).

I love, love, love your work and never grow tired of these little stories!

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

Jason Nicolosi,

Unfortunately, Amazon refuses to carry it because it has the illustrations going across the gutter, a double-page bleed. They don't understand children's books, I think. Anyway, it is only available on Lulu.com. I appreciate that you are interested. I am very happy. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Jason Nicolosi from AZ on March 17, 2020:

Hi, Denise, your fairytale alphabet book is wonderful. I love that you didn't go with the usual "A" is for Apple type book. I also think that using collages was definitely the way to go. It really gives it a unique and whimsical feel. Your collages are extraordinary by the way. Beautiful all the way. I'd buy the book. Are you selling it on Amazon or anything?

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

Bill Holland,

I got bored with Outlander. The first book held me enthralled but the second left me with a ho-hum feeling and I didn't bother to buy the third or see any of the shows based on them. But I have ancestors who were there at the battle of Culloden so I should be more interested than that. I'm glad you like my Scottish offering. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Lorna Lamon,

Had you heard of this one before? I hadn't. I felt like it was a take on the Grimm's Frog Prince or maybe Grimm stole it from Scotland and gave it a cooler name, who knows? But I loved the twist in the motive for going to the well. A noble reason was much better than dropping a ball down it. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2020:

I'm catching up on Outlander right now, so I'm into all things Scottish, just as I am into all things Denise. :) Beautiful work as always, my friend. Your talent has no limits.

Lorna Lamon on March 17, 2020:

How wonderful, a fairytale from Scotland and one I hadn't heard of. The title is a little strange, however, I love the tale and as usual your illustrations are beautiful Denise.

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

RoadMonkey,

So true. This one makes the girl more of a heroine than the princess in the Frog Prince did. I like this one too. I wish it had a better name though. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

RoadMonkey on March 16, 2020:

Another great story and as you say, a variation on "The Princess And The Frog". I like this one better because the girl wants to cure her mother, rather than just wanting her lost golden ball back

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