Fitcher’s Bird Children’s Book

Yuxin Guo

Artist Statment:

For the final term, I developed a children’s picture book based on a story called “Ficher’s Bird” from the famous children’s literature The Complete Fairy Tales of Brother Grimm. This particular tale is girl-empowering and atypical from all the other well-known fairy tales on the market. At the same time, I modified the story as they were written in the 19th century and some parts are outdated for modern society. The book is 26 pages with 1 to 2 illustrations per spread with a dimension of 7.5 by 11. The illustrations are done in traditional medium with watercolour, colour pencils and markers and then edited in photoshop.

The reason why I want to do this project is that I grow up with some of the famous fairy tales from Brothers Grimm, the fantasy world that the authors created really made an impact on who I evolved into. However, most of the tales left me unfulfilled as a young girl because the female characters are often portrayed as weak and helpless. Therefore, I would like to illustrate some of this less famous story, “Fitcher’s Bird”, to empower more young girls to be smart, independent and brave.

Part One

Once upon a time there was a sorcerer who disguised himself as a poor man, went begging from house to house, and captured beautiful girls. No one knew where he took them, for none of them ever returned.

One day he came to the door of a man who had three beautiful daughters. He appeared to be a poor, weak beggar, and he carried a pack basket on his back, as though he wanted to collect some benevolent offerings in it. He asked for a bit to eat, and when the oldest daughter came out to give him a piece of bread, he simply touched her, and she was forced to jump into his pack basket.

Then he hurried away with powerful strides and carried her to his house, which stood in the middle of a dark forest.

Everything was splendid in the house, and he gave her everything that she wanted. He said, “My dear, you will like it here with me. You will have everything that your heart desires.”

So it went for a few days, and then he said to her, “I have to go away and leave you alone for a short time. Here are the house keys. You may go everywhere and look at everything except for the one room that this little key here unlocks. I forbid you to go there on the penalty of death.”

He also gave her an egg, saying, “Take good care of this egg. You should carry it with you at all times, for if you should lose it great misfortune would follow.”

She took the keys and the egg and promised to take good care of everything.

As soon as he had gone she walked about in the house from top to bottom examining everything. The rooms glistened with silver and gold, and she thought that she had never seen such splendor.

Finally, she came to the forbidden door. She wanted to pass it by, but curiosity gave her no rest.

She examined the key. It looked like any other one. She put it into the lock and twisted it a little, and then the door sprang open.

What did she see when she stepped inside?

Part Two

A large basin stood in the middle, inside which there lay the cut-up parts of girl dolls with purple magical liquid. Nearby there was a sewing ket.

She was so terrified that the egg, which she was holding in her hand, fell into the basin.

She got it out again and wiped off the purple liquid, but it was to no avail, for it always came back. She wiped and scrubbed, but she could not get rid of the stain.

Not long afterward the man returned from his journey, and he immediately asked for the key and the egg. She handed them to him, shaking all the while, for he saw from the purple stain that she had been in the forbidden room.

“You went into that chamber against my will,” he said, “and now against your will you shall go into it once again. Your life is finished.”

He turned her into a doll and then cut the doll up into pieces. Then he threw her into the basin with the others.

“Now I will go get the second one,” said the sorcerer, and, again disguised as a poor man, he went to their house begging.

The second sister brought him a piece of bread, and, as he had done to the first one, he captured her by merely touching her, and he carried her away.

It went with her no better than it had gone with her sister. She let herself be led astray by her curiosity, opened the forbidden chamber and looked inside. When he returned she paid with her life.

Part Three

Then he went and captured the third sister, but she was clever and sly. After he had given her the keys and the egg and had gone away, she carefully put the egg aside, and then examined the house, entering finally the forbidden chamber.

Oh, what she saw! Her two dear sisters were lying there in the basin, miserably turned into dolls and chopped to pieces. In spite of this, she proceeded to gather their parts together, placing them back in order: head, body, arms, and legs and sewed them together. Then, when nothing else was missing, the parts began to move. They joined together, and the two girls opened their eyes and came back to life. Rejoicing, they kissed and hugged one another.

When the man returned home he immediately demanded the keys and the egg, and when he was unable to detect any trace of blood on them, he said, “You have passed the test. You shall be my bride.”

He now had no more power over her and had to do whatever she demanded.

“Good,” she answered, “but first you must take a basketful of gold to my father and mother. You yourself must carry it there on your back. In the meanwhile I shall make preparations for the wedding.”

Then she ran to her sisters, whom she had hidden in a closet, and said, “The moment is here when I can rescue you. The evildoer himself shall carry you home. As soon as you have arrived at home send help to me.”

She put them both into a basket, then covered them entirely with gold, so that nothing could be seen of them.

Then she called the sorcerer in and said, “Now carry this basket away, but you are not to stop and rest underway. Take care, for I shall be watching you through my little window.”

The sorcerer lifted the basket onto his back and walked away with it. However, it pressed down so heavily on him that the sweat ran from his face. He sat down, wanting to rest, but immediately one of the girls in the basket called out, “I am looking through my little window, and I can see that you are resting. Walk on!”

He thought that his bride was calling to him, so he got up again. Then he again wanted to sit down, but someone immediately called out, “I am looking through my little window, and I can see that you are resting. Walk on!”

Every time that he stopped walking, someone called out, and he had to walk on until, groaning and out of breath, he brought the basket with the gold and the two girls to their parents’ house.

At home, the bride was making preparations for the wedding feast, to which she had had the sorcerer’s friends invited. Then she took a doll, adorned it with jewelry and with a wreath of flowers, carried it to the attic window, and let its lookout.

When everything was ready she dipped herself into a barrel of honey, then cut open the bed and rolled around in it until she looked like a strange bird, and no one would have been able to recognize her. Then she walked out of the house.

Underway some of the wedding guests met her, and they asked, “You, Fitcher’s bird, where are you coming from?”

“I am coming from Fitcher’s house.”

“What is his young bride doing there?”

“She has swept the house from bottom to top, and now she is looking out of the attic window.”

Finally her bridegroom met her. He was slowly walking back home, and, like the others, he asked, “You, Fitcher’s bird, where are you coming from?”

“I am coming from Fitcher’s house.”

“What is my young bride doing there?”

“She has swept the house from bottom to top, and now she is looking out of the attic window.”

The bridegroom looked up. Seeing the decorated doll, he thought it was his bride, and he waved a friendly greeting to her.

After he and all his guests had gone into the house, the bride’s brothers and relatives arrived. They had been sent to rescue her. They closed up all the doors of the house so that no one could escape and they were trapped in the house forever.

Yuxin Guo

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Yuxin Guo is a Vancouver-based Chinese illustrator who finished her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2021. Yuxin specializes in picture books and children’s book illustrations and works in both digital and traditional mediums. She often uses strong lines and bright colours in her illustrations to convey a sense of tranquillity and curiosity. She is frequently inspired by fairy tales, folk tales, nature and the mundane aspects of everyday life. Moreover, during her free time outside of illustration, she is passionate about food, plants and pets. One important thing you should know about her is that she can touch her nose with her tongue.
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