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Zomo the Rabbit, a West 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.

Zomo the Rabbit, A West African Fairy Tale

Zomo the Rabbit, A West African Fairy Tale

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. 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 here is the twenty-sixth letter in the new book for the letter Z.

Fairy tales help us earth-bound people to be able to soar to the stars on the wings of imagination.

— Denise McGill

Thumbnail Roughs

Thumbnail Roughs

Zomo the Rabbit, a West African Folk Tale

Long ago, Zomo the Rabbit asked the great Sky God for wisdom above all the other animals. The Sky God then agreed to give Zomo his request if he could do three difficult tasks. He had to find a golden stone from the bottom of the sea, a piece of obsidian from the Fire Mountain, and a piece of amber from high in Tallest Tree.

Zomo went away very sad because he wasn’t a good swimmer and didn’t know how he could possible get a golden stone from the bottom of the sea. As he sat beside the sea wailing at his misfortune, Big Fish came along and asked him what the matter could be.

“Oh, I know where there is such a stone. I could fetch it for you if you will do something for me,” Big Fish said. “I only want some nice juicy bugs to feet my young.” Zomo promised anything Big Fish wanted and Big Fish swam away to get the golden stone. When he returned with the stone, Zomo forgot his promise and rushed off to work on the second task, leaving Big Fish without any bugs.

After traveling far, Zomo sat down and pondered where this Fire Mountain could be. He realized he didn’t even know and so he started to cry. At that moment Wild Cow happened by and asked what the matter could be.

“I need some obsidian from the Fire Mountain but I don’t know where to look for it,” Zomo whimpered.

“I know where that is. I could get you some if you will do something for me. All I want is to find the sweetest clover around here. Surely you know where some is,” said Wild Cow. After promising anything he wanted, Wild Cow went off to the Fire Mountain. When he returned with the obsidian between his teeth, Zomo rushed off to try for the final task without showing Wild Cow where the sweetest clover could be found.

When Zomo arrived in the forest, he began looking for the Tallest Tree. It was only when he got there that he realized he could not possibly climb the tree. He was so close only to fail now. This thought made him sit down and cry. Along came Leopard and asked what the matter could be.

“I need to get some amber from this Tallest Tree but I cannot climb,” Zomo wailed.

“I can climb the tree. But I want you to do something for me in return. I need a safe place to have my kittens. Perhaps one of your old burrows will do nicely. Surely you know where I can find one to use,” asked Leopard. When Zomo promised, Leopard climbed the Tallest Tree and returned with a large piece of amber between her teeth.

Zomo was beside himself with happiness and ran off without another word to Leopard. When Zomo returned to the Sky God with the golden stone from the bottom of the sea, the obsidian from the Fire Mountain, and the amber from the Tallest Tree, Sky God gave Zomo the wisdom he asked for. The Sky God warned Zomo, “My little friend, you have courage and some good sense, but you have no caution at all. You have angered Big Fish, Wild Cow, and Leopard. Therefore, you better learn to run very fast.”


Thumbnail refined

Thumbnail refined

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references of rabbits, cows, fish, and leopards. In the end, I used a photo pose of a rabbit with a photo of a leopard. 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 felt this one needed a grey gradient for ground.

Value Sketch

Value Sketch

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” 

— Albert Einstein

Publishing 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 Zomo the Rabbit. With all the illustrations done, at this publication, I have compiled the book and will publish it on Lulu. I'm still in the midst of the last edit but should have it published by the end of January. You can find it there by typing the name in search: The FairyTale Alphabet Book 2, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales From Around the World, by Denise McGill.

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 a jaguar, a dark brown cow, and a seagull.


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 know that there was another rabbit story in this book but this one was slightly different and one from West Africa, where the other rabbit story was from South America.

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


The finished collage illustration

The finished collage illustration

Comments

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 03, 2021:

Great and well done on your achievements.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 02, 2021:

DDE,

I like knowing them too. I will publish soon now that I have finished my last edit. My sister is reading through to see if I missed anything and then I can post the link to the new book. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 02, 2021:

Hi PAINTDRIPS These tales have become an outstanding follow up of each. Interesting and so welcoming to know more of the tales from around the world.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 28, 2021:

Ankita B,

The illustrations are the part I like best. I love art. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 28, 2021:

annart,

Thank you, my faithful friend. I'm so happy you liked it. I'll be publishing soon. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 28, 2021:

rebelogilbert,

Yes, sometimes my first idea isn't my best and having lots of choices lets me stand back (so to speak) and really get a view of what would be best. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 28, 2021:

Jodah,

Oh, good catch. That one got by me. I will check my text and change that before publishing. I'm on my last edit now and hopefully can publish before the end of the month. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Ankita B on January 28, 2021:

Lovely story, Denise. I always enjoy reading your stories with their wonderful illustrations. Thank you for sharing them.

Ann Carr from SW England on January 28, 2021:

Love the leopard; you've created a striking contrast between it and the white rabbit. Another lovely contribution, Denise.

Ann

Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on January 27, 2021:

Denise, I loved your artistic technique on the illustrations. The story was cute and I thought you included a funny ending. Your process of self-publishing looks fascinating. I like how you consider different perspectives and angles on what you're considering to print.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on January 27, 2021:

Denise, another wonderful story, I can see why the rabbit asked for wisdom, hopefully it wasn’t too late. Love the collage for this one, especially the leopard. ( Oh, I noticed one typo: Where big fish says, “I only want some nice juicy bugs to feet my young.” ..should be “feed”)

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 27, 2021:

Carb Diva,

How very kind of you to say. I wasn't really happy with the rabbit in this one but the leopard turned out nice. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 27, 2021:

billybuc,

It is layering. The key is to create depth of space so it doesn't look flat. It's not always easy. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 27, 2021:

ChitrangadaSharan,

I always thought it was unique but I still haven't found a traditional publisher interested in it so I am self-publishing. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 27, 2021:

Vanita Thakkar,

I'm happy that you liked it. Thanks for the good wishes and for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 27, 2021:

AliciaC,

I'm glad you have found these interesting. I enjoyed them. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 27, 2021:

bhattuc,

He was clever getting help to complete the tasks, but not so clever in not fulfilling his part of the bargain. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 27, 2021:

surovi99,

Thank you for your good wishes. It has been a long book and to see it nearly done is so rewarding. I'll have to post a comment with a link when it is published just for those who are interested. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 27, 2021:

Ericdierker,

Yes, it would be good to see him get his comm-upance, so to speak. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on January 27, 2021:

Denise, you have saved the best for last. The artwork on this one is simply incredible.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 27, 2021:

The illustrations are exquisite, my friend. The layering (is that what it's called?) is such that each time you look at it, you see something new. I love that. The leopard....such fine artwork! Excellent, my friend! Simply excellent!

Blessings always

bill

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 27, 2021:

Very impressive.

Fairy tales are an important and enjoyable part of the childhood. I enjoy them even now, and your stories are beautiful.

I always love your Sketches. What you are doing is unique and different. I wish you all the success.

Thank you for sharing.

Vanita Thakkar on January 26, 2021:

Nice story. I love fairy tales. Enjoyed it. The illustrations are quotes are all nice. Best wishes to you for successful launching of your upcoming book of fairy tales.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 26, 2021:

I enjoyed the story and loved the various versions of your illustration. It’s always interesting to read the folk tales from around the world that you share.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 26, 2021:

Very interesting, the clever rabbit.

Rosina S Khan on January 26, 2021:

So ungrateful the rabbit was. The lesson and wisdom the Sky God gave him at the end was well-deserving. I loved the collage illustration as well as the wise quotes. Thank you for sharing, Denise. Best of luck with your second children's book. I wish you every success.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 26, 2021:

Another wonderful addition. What a bad rabbit. I am not so sure I want him to run fast.

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