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Jasper Who Herded Hares, A Scandinavian Fairy Tale

Updated on September 4, 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.

The illustration for Jasper, Who Herded Hares
The illustration for Jasper, Who Herded Hares | Source

The FairyTale Alphabet Book

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 so I haven’t finished very many of the illustrations. Here is the tenth letter in the new book for the letter J.

My collection of references for the illustration
My collection of references for the illustration | Source

Jasper Who Herded Hares, A Scandinavian Fairy Tale

There once was a small kingdom, so small one could the border to the east and to the west from one of the towers of the king’s castle. The king of this kingdom had only one child, a daughter. He didn’t want to see her marry just anyone, so he devised a series of tests for any suitors. First, they had to bring twelve of the fines pearls, to ensure the suitor was rich. Next, they had to perform certain great feats of the king’s devising. Many princes and merchants came bringing pearls but they couldn’t perform the great tasks. Many poor men came trying the tasks but brought false pearls and were turned away.

One day a fisherman with three sons brought home three-dozen oysters. Each one contained a fine pearl. He told his sons, Peter, Paul, and Jasper, that they should each take twelve pearls to the castle and try for the hand of the princess. Peter left first with his pouch of pearls and a lunch for the trip. Along the way, he met the King of the Ants, who had been battling the King of the Beetles. They were loosing and so the King of the Ants asked Peter for his help. Peter told them he didn’t have time for such nonsense. He was about important business and he left them. Next, he came upon an old woman who asked what he was carrying so carefully in his pouch. Peter didn’t want to tell her about the pearls so he lied that they were cinders to make his fire for lunch. The old woman said, very well, they are cinders. And when Peter got to the castle his bag of pearls had turned into a bag of cinders so he was turned away. When he got home, he didn’t tell his father about the cinders. He was too ashamed.

The next to try was Paul. He took his bag of pearls and headed to the castle. When he met the King of the Ants, he answered much the same as his brother had and went on. When he met the old woman on the way, he too didn’t want to tell her what was in his pouch so he said he had a bag of rocks. The old woman said, very well, they are rocks. When Paul got to the cast his bag of pearls had turned into a bag of rocks, and so he too was turned away.

Finally, it was Jasper’s turn. When he came upon the battle between the ants and the beetles, he helped the King of the Ants and they won. When he met the old woman he told the truth that he had a bag of pearls. She asked him for his lunch and thinking he could eat at the castle, he gave her all he had to eat. As he left, the old woman called him back and gave him a special whistle. She told him that it could bring back whatever he had lost.

When Jasper arrived with twelve of the most beautiful pearls, the king was not happy. He didn’t look much like a good son-in-law to him so he devised the hardest of tasks for him to do. He put him in a room with four sacks of wheat, barley, oats, and rye mixed together and told him that he had to sort them by the end of the day. Luckily Jasper saw some ants in the room and asked them to help him. The King of the Ants sent all his troupes to Jasper and the grain was sorted before the end of the day.

Next Jasper was sent to herd a hundred hares. This would be a very hard task but with the old woman’s whistle, he was able to keep them all together. The king was not happy. He decided to trick Jasper. That day a shabby looking girl came and begged for a hare to feed her family. Jasper agreed to give her one in exchange for a kiss. After she left with the hare, he whistled and it came back. The next day a stout old woman in a peasant dress came to him. She also begged for a hare so he told her he would give her one if she agreed to tiptoe around him cackling like a hen. When she left with the hare, he whistled it back again. The next day a fat old man in a royal groom's livery came begging for a hare. Jasper agreed to give him one if he would stand on his head. When the fat old man left with the hare, Jasper whistled it back again.

There was no denying it. Jasper herded the hares well and didn’t lose a single one. For the next task, the King set out a tub and said that Jasper must fill it with undoubted truths, and only the king would be the judge when full was. So Jasper told of a shabby dress girl who came to him and kissed him but who was really the princess. Then he said that a stout old woman in a peasant dress had cackled like a hen but was really the queen. Then he said a fat old man came… and the king declared that the tub was full. The king decided that Jasper could marry the princess and would be a good king if he could look after his people as well as he looked after the hares.

Thumbnail Sketches
Thumbnail Sketches | Source

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references for boys and bunnies. In the end, I ended up using a good stock photo I had found in Pixabay of a boy with a rabbit. Hares have longer ears and hind legs than rabbits so I just adjusted my drawing. 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 added.

Refined thumbnail
Refined thumbnail | Source

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 Jasper Who Herded Hares.

Hidden Pictures

In my collages, I will add things into a collage you can't see unless you are looking for it like hidden pictures. This collage contains raspberries on the boy’s shirt, a little dog, a bouquet of flowers, and a castle.

Value sketch
Value sketch | Source

I love fairy tales because I think that behind fairy tales, there is always a meaning.

— Monica Bellucci
Color Composition
Color Composition | Source

Final Thoughts

Did you like this story’s ending? I thought Jasper deserved to be rewarded after being honest with the old beggar woman and then passing all the king’s tests even though he tried to trick him. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.


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