November usually means the arrival of the annual #folktaleweek challenge over on Instagram.
If you’re not already familiar with it, Folktale week is a week long illustration challenge, where participants are given 7x prompts in advance and over the course of a week, they post an illustration each day, in response to these prompts. It’s designed to celebrate folk tales and the storytelling tradition. There’s usually some really fun stories. People can respond to existing folk tales, or they can take the prompts and write their own story based around them. Which is the route I took.
I’ve toyed with taking part for the past few years, but one thing or another (Usually paid work, or MA work) tended to get in the way. However 2020 was different. For many reasons. My MA had finished in February and the onset of Covid had ensured my calendar was clearer than usual, so after a last minute snap decision, I got to work!
I drew out a plan, using the list of prompts and concocted a story loosely based around them.
- Day 1: Birth
- Day 2: Ritual
- Day 3: Courtship
- Day 4: Solstice
- Day 5: Death
- Day 6: Harvest
- Day 7: Dance
I knew I wouldn’t be able to post along with everyone else, but I loved the challenge and the incentive to develop a story so much that I decided to complete it in my own time. It’s taken a few months, working around completing illustrations for my first commissioned kids book (more on that at a later date) but Brian Blue Birds story is now done.
Brian Blue Bird hatched into his treetop nest in late summer. He was very inquisitive from the first moment and was desperate to go out exploring.
As Brian grew, he began to take part in the ritual evening flocking. One evening, still young, clumsy and finding his wings, Brian took a tumble out of the sky, into the forest below.
Seperated from his parents and pals, he was all alone and scared.
As Brian wandered the forest floor, lost, alone and frightened, he saw flashes of orange moving through the trees. Suddenly, in front of him appeared a bright orange bird. He had never seen a bird so bright.
Brian was enchanted. Who was this brilliant bird? Where did they come from? Did they live here in this forest?
Brian and his new friend Bob spent the summer playing in the forest. They had so much fun together. But as the sun set on the shortest day of the year, they found out that Bob was gravely ill.
Brian and Bob were worried. What would their future hold?
Bob’s condition swiftly deteriorated, and death quickly swooped in. Brian was terrified.
He stood up tall to death and asked ‘I can’t let Bob go, is there something else you would take, in return for her life?’...
‘Let me think...’ answered Death. ‘I think there might be something you could get for me, and in return I shall spare your friend’...
Brian was perplexed by Deaths request - a host of colourful feathers!? What did Death need so many feathers for? What would they do with them?
Brian called around his newfound friends and they gladly donated a feather or two for his cause.
Armed with a beak full of colourful feathers, Brian set off back to present them to Death. Hoping that he was still in time to save Bob.
Brian quickly delivered all the feathers his friends had kindly donated, and as agreed, Death spared Bob her life. She made a full recovery much to the relief of Brian.
Death was over the moon with the colourful feathers that Brian had collected and quickly got to work. Brian and Bob didn't hear from Death for a while, and carried on their important business of playing in the forest. Then, one day, they heard a rustling in the trees...
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a colourful feathered creature appeared dancing gleefully!
They soon realised it was Death! What was Death doing? 'I'd had enough of looking so drab and dark!' said Death. 'Everyone was so afraid of me. Thankyou so much for bringing me such FABULOUS feathers. I'm now the most colourful reaper around!'
And with that, in a flurry of fabulous feathers, they were gone.
I’d been wanting to revisit my Blue Bird character from that spring’s Carmelite submission for a while, so loosely based my protagonist around him. I’d loved working with the Lonely blue bird, giving him his own character (which was, now I think about it, probably more than a little inspired by my own two birds) and so I took his template, tweaked him a bit and wrote him a new story.
Prints of the story are now available over on my Etsy page, or you can purchase them directly from myself.
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