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Almondseed, A Greek Fairy Tale

Updated on June 19, 2020
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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.

A is for Almondseed, a Greek Fairy Tale
A is for Almondseed, a Greek Fairy Tale | Source

The Alphabet Book

As many of you know by now, I wrote 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. Unfortunately, Amazon refused to carry a book with the illustrations stretching across two pages. Many children’s books have illustrations that stretch across the double-page spread, right? I’ve seen them, you’ve seen them and probably even have a few on your bookshelf, if not now, at one time or another.

“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
My Thumbnail possibilities for this illustration.  Oops, did you see I labeled these Appleseed instead of Almondseed?  My bad.
My Thumbnail possibilities for this illustration. Oops, did you see I labeled these Appleseed instead of Almondseed? My bad. | Source


My solution was to realize that Amazon isn’t the only self-publishing company available 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.

After I got it published I decided that there were a lot more fairy tales out there and I could make a whole series using global fairy tales and folk tales. Thus the birth 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 first in the new book for the letter A.

The chosen thumbnail drawing with the collaged A.
The chosen thumbnail drawing with the collaged A. | Source

Almondseed, A Greek Fairy Tale

A very poor boy named Almondseed, was walking through the market one day. He happened to walk past the weaver’s booth and saw a black hen tied there. As he walked on he heard a woman calling for her lost black hen. Almondseed was very hungry and thought that if he pretended to be a seer and told the woman where her hen could be found she may feed him. So he told her he could see things far and near and pretending to read an invisible book, he told her that her hen was tied to the weaver’s booth. The grateful woman gave him two meat pies.

After this he was often paid to pretend to see the future and tell people where missing things could be found. Servants of the king heard about the boy’s unusual skill and came to him to ask if the queen was to have a girl or a boy child. Almondseed opened his invisible book and muttered, “boy, girl, boy, girl…” until finally the king’s servants got tired and left. Later the queen had twins, a boy and a girl. The servants told the king what the young seer had said and the king sent for him.

Earlier the king’s treasure box had been stolen and he wanted the seer to tell him where the box may be found. The king put Almondseed in a room made up special for him. He told the king it may take several days to see the treasure and so the king left him. “This is the first,” Almondseed said, meaning it was the first night. However, one of the three thieves was listening at the door and thought Almondseed could see him through the door. Startled the thief ran back to his fellow thieves and told them what he heard. On the second night, the second thief listened at the door of Almondseed and heard him say, “The second has come.” Almondseed meant it was the second night but the thief was sure he meant him and ran back to the others. The third thief now was sure the seer had found them out and convinced the others to go to him and confess, begging for mercy. They showed Almondseed where the treasure was hidden and he then presented it to the king.

The king was happy to have his treasure back but was still not sure Almondseed was a real seer so he asked him to walk with him in the garden. As they walked, the king reached up and picked an almond from a tree without letting the seer see him. He then asked what he had in his hand. Instead of answering, Almondseed opened his invisible book and said, “I am Almondseed…” The king was amazed and thought he answered correctly, so the king rewarded him with bags of gold.

The value sketch
The value sketch | Source

The most beautiful things in the world must be felt with the heart.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references of boys for this illustration. I hope you enjoy seeing my progress on the collage. I felt like the branch filled with ripe almonds was essential to the story even though he didn’t do any “reading” next to the almond branches.

Will Be Published with Lulu

I was especially drawn to this one as I had a great uncle by the name of Almond. I always thought it was unusual but now I think maybe he was the hero of his own fairy tale.

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 Almondseed and Almondella.

The Color Composition for Almondseed
The Color Composition for Almondseed | Source

The most important thing is this: to be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become.

— Charles Dickens

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. In Almondseed’s hair is a beaver and bird in flight. On his face, you can see an angel with trumpet if you look hard. On his shirt, you will find the face of a black girl, and a cowboy with cows.

The finished illustration for the book
The finished illustration for the book | Source

Final Thoughts

Did you like this story’s ending? I found it to be different from the usual “married and live happily ever after” endings.

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.


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