The Ghillie Dhu

At the start of this semester, I was given a prompt from my children’s book illustration class to create a dummy book based off a pre-written story. I started searching for old children’s fables from various cultures. Two of my main choices were “The Ghillie Dhu” (rendition by Frances J Olcott), and a Chinese story “How the Moon Became Beautiful” (author unknown). Ultimately, I went with “The Ghillie Dhu” because I thought it could be a more whimsical and ironic story. While the dummy is supposed to be a sketchy version of the book, it must contain about 40 pages of content. Since that’s a bit too much to show in this post, I will show some snippets.

Above are the first and last pages of the dummy.

“The Ghillie Dhu” is ultimately about a forest fairy who helps lost children. It starts out with the main character, Jessie who was a little girl that got lost in the woods. As it turns darker outside, she becomes more and more astray. This is when the Ghillie Dhu is introduced and he tells Jessie he can lead her out of the woods. As the story progresses, his character becomes increasingly unsettling until the reader is almost certain that he’s going to eat her or take her away.

Above are pages pulled from the middle of the book

Originally, this story was made to be a very lighthearted tale of a fairy who leads lost children out of the wilderness. From the time it was written however, the story seems to take on an entirely different meaning now. I thought “..his mouth was large and showed a hundred white tech as small as seed pearls.” sounded more like a psychopathic predator than a friendly fairy. Although the Ghillie Dhu appears to be some kind of monster, the reader is never quite sure of his motives and Jessie doesn’t seem to mind his presence.

During the last few pages, the Ghillie Dhu changes and reverts back to his “friendly” demeanor from the beginning. Although Jessie is unfazed, this throws off the reader. All seems well as Jessie finally reaches home, but on the last page of the story, the Ghillie Dhu is hidden among the bushes watching her house. Once I read the original story, I knew I had to create some kind of twist to make the reader unsure of what will happen next.

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