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Puss in Boots, A French Fairy Tale

Updated on March 13, 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.

P is for Puss in Boots
P is for Puss in Boots | Source

My Children’s Alphabet Book

If you follow me, you probably have heard about my creation of 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 particular story is an old favorite French fairytale about a cat who helps a young man earn his fortune.

This is closer to the original version, very different from the many cartoons and Disney versions out there.

“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
Choosing just the right cat can be daunting.
Choosing just the right cat can be daunting. | Source

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 Sketch
Thumbnail Sketch | Source

Puss in Boots, A French Fairy Tale

When an old miller died, the youngest son found his brothers received most of the wealth of their father. All that was left for the youngest son was a cat. However, the cat is no ordinary cat. One day the cat told the youngest son if he could have a pair of boots he would make his master’s fortune. The cat wore the boots and in the forest grabbed a rabbit. Later he presented the rabbit to the king as a gift from his master, the “Marquis of Carabas,” but who was really the youngest son of the miller. The cat did this for months, each time bringing gifts to the king in the name of the “Marquis of Carabas.”

One day when the king and his daughter were on a drive, they found the young master of the cat in boots naked in the river. The cat had insisted that he take off his clothes and swim there. When the king came by, the cat called out for help, pretending they had been robbed. The king stopped to help. He provided the best clothes for the young son and set him in the coach with his daughter, and they hit it off. Meanwhile, the cat hurried ahead of the coach and told the country folk along the road to tell the king all the land belonged to the “Marquis of Carabas.”

The cat then came to a castle belonging to a legendary ogre who had the power to change into other creatures. The cat said to the ogre that he doubted the story of the ogre’s power. The proud ogre demanded to show him by changing into a lion and a bear.

“Oh, that is sort of impressive,” the cat conceded. “But I seriously doubt you could change into anything small, like say, a mouse.” Then the ogre showed him that he could change into a mouse, and immediately the cat pounced on him and ate him.

When the king arrived at the castle that formerly belonged to the ogre, the cat invited them into the home of the Marquis of Calabas and the king was very overwhelmed. The knew this young man would be a good match for his daughter and agreed to allow the princess and the young son to marry. From that day on the cat enjoyed a long life as lord of the castle and could run after all the mice his heart desired.

Value Sketch
Value Sketch | Source

“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

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.

This is another story that I created the illustration for before I began videotaping the process. I had collaged the boots earlier for a collage demonstration I did in front of a local artists group and later added the cat. Wanting to keep with an international theme, I didn’t want a regular tabby cat or longhair housecat, so I used a Siamese cat for the story.

Color Composition
Color Composition | Source

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 Puss in Boots.

My book, The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World, was self-published last year with 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 even circulars. Often I will add things into a collage you can't see unless you are looking for it. There are faces in the boots.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cat collage with the boots.Boots collage done for a demonstration.Finished compilation put together in Photoshop with a blue Photoshop gradient background.
Cat collage with the boots.
Cat collage with the boots. | Source
Boots collage done for a demonstration.
Boots collage done for a demonstration. | Source
Finished compilation put together in Photoshop with a blue Photoshop gradient background.
Finished compilation put together in Photoshop with a blue Photoshop gradient background. | Source

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.


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