The Lute Player, A Russian Fairy Tale
My Children’s Alphabet Book
If you have followed me, by now you may have noticed I created a children’s alphabet book using fairy tales for each letter of the alphabet. I could have concentrated on all the old favorites but I decided to make it a book with fairy tales and folk tales from all over the world. This particular story is more of a story for the father than for the daughter. The daughter was faithful but the father couldn’t see through to the truth underneath.
When it hit 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 work but in the end, it became very satisfying. This story is a fairytale from Russia.
"Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind."— Magdalena Abakanowicz
The Lute Player, A Russian Fairy Tale
Long ago, a king wanted to win glory in battle so he set out against a wicked king, but was captured. He sent a message to his daughter to ransom him.
His daughter, the princess, thought that if she went herself, the wicked king would take her as one of his wives, and she did not know whether she could trust her father’s ministers. She was a clever girl so she cut her hair, disguised herself as a boy, and took her gusli (a many stringed lute). When she reached the court of the wicked king, she performed for him and charmed him with her music. He was so taken with the music that he promised what he thought was a boy whatever he wished, and of course, she said she wanted a companion for her lonely journeys, so she asked for one of the wicked king’s prisoners. He let her choose, and she picked her father, the king.
Even her father, the king, did not recognize her and so they went back to their country without his discovering who she was. Before they reached his court, she left him. When he got to his castle, he was very angry that his daughter had not ransomed him or even come to plead for him. He became even angrier when he discovered that she had vanished while he was imprisoned and had only just returned. He would not listen when she tried to explain. The princess could only do one thing. She disguised herself as the musician again and performed for her father. Thinking she was a boy, he promised her whatever reward she wished. She told him she wanted only him and revealed she was the princess.
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 hope you enjoy my process here showing the start with thumbnail sketches, then value sketch, color composition and finally, the collage. My little princess does not look much like a boy in this illustration but I didn’t think that mattered. I used a reference of a girl from Peru because I wanted a more global feel than just another white girl.
When you buy something from an artist, you’re buying more than an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You’re buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You’re not buying just one thing, you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul… a small piece of someone else’s life.— Anonymous
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 of the Lute Player.
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.
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.