Analysis of the Story Development 

  1. Summary of narrative beats extracted from original folktale

Here is my summary of narrative beats I took from Lisa Schneidau’s folktale called The Clearing In The Woods. This was the first step I took to find the story I wanted to tell.

  1. Queen and Prince are shown living in the woods away from court.
  • Perceval observing nature. Imagining being a bird
  • Mother is shown as jealous of his fascination with birds
  • Large net thrown over the forest. Birds are caught and slaughtered.
  • Birds returned and Perceval learnt to hide his passion from his mother.
  • He is now older. Seen building an outbuilding in the forest. He meets three men.
  • Mother shows jealousy again
  • Boy studies how to be a knight
  • Seeking out camelot. Mother is distraught.
  • Mother tells him the three rules
  • You see him skipping out of the forest in a silly childish knight's costume. Mother seen dead
  • Adventures on his way to camelot - Female encounter, killing a family member (keeping defeated armour), christened Perceval 'pure fool', finally becomes a knight
  • Hears whispers of the Holy Grail. Makes a quest to Arthur and Guinevere to go and find the Grail.
  • Starts quest and goes back to forest. Beautiful and extravagant depiction of the forest.
  • Travels down undiscovered paths. Goes deeper into the forest. The forest darkens. deadens. murky environment.
  • Comes across castle, old man fishing in a stretch of water. Conversation with the old man
  • Invited to a banquet with the old man. Witnesses the decaying interior of the castle.
  • Enters the empty banqueting hall. Goes into the throne room. King is there in his garbs. Blood seeping from his wound.
  • Seem to be waiting for him. Perceval feels unsure of himself, Are they ridiculing him or not?
  • Procession begins - Four objects brought in for the king. Plate full of food. Sword plunged into the king. Sacred lance. Grail
  • Makes a contentless speech. Perceval feels their dissatisfaction. Sideway glances of the gathering. Awkward end to the night.
  • Perceval awakes to an empty castle. Leaves. Echoes of voices saying 'You fool, you fool'
  • Goes back through the forest. Goes from dark to light. Sits and thinks through his options.
  • Counsel with the three women.
  • Disturbed dreams. Goes through trials which finally allow him to listen. Gains experience and wisdom.
  • Five years past. Witnesses the dark forest again. Same routine in the castle.
  • Perceval asks questions. Colour starts to return. Woods turn back into a spring oasis.

  • 2. Review of first stab at the story.

    There were elements in the story I wanted my adaptation to focus on and large portions of the story I wanted to leave out. The elements I wanted to leave out were the following -

    • I did not want the central character to have a defined ancestry. For this reason I decided to do away with the mother character completely. I wanted Percy to be a natural occupant of the forest.
    • The quest of the Holy Grail was too big a subject to address in my version of Percival’s story. I decided to keep this out of the story. However the spirit of the boy’s journey to find truth was retained by his journey back to the forest.

    Elements which I wanted to focus on and adapt for my narrative purposes.

    • His relationship with the birds of the forest
    • I wanted to use the meeting of the three men in the forest as the first transition point.
    • His mother’s lessons before he leaves the forest is adapted by the tuition given to Percy when he arrives in Camelot.
    • Percival’s innocence throughout the story.
    • The wandering in the forest was transformed in my story by Percy’s wandering through the streets of Camelot.

    3. First draft of my picture book text.

    From these initial decisions about the plot, I prepared the following text for my first draft.

    1. A long time ago there was a boy called Percy who lived in the forest.
  • He swam in rivers.
  • He ate fruit picked straight from the trees
  • And he slept under the light of the moon.
  • One day three men on horses came riding into the forest . They were wearing the most unusual colours Percy had ever seen.
  • Percy's eyes became as wide as soup spoons. He had never seen such beauty.
  • They told Percy that they were knights and invited the boy to come with them on a journey to a place far away. In an instant, he jumped up on the horse and waved goodbye to his forest friends. They were very sorry to see him go.
  • They raced through the night
  • And eventually arrived in Camelot. All the buildings were grey. There were no streams to drink from and the horses looked weighed down by their strange clothing.
  • They cut his locks and dressed him in clothes just like them. But instead of being glad, Percy felt weighed down like the horses he passed.
  • They talked around a giant round table for hours endlessly taking about the whereabouts of a cup. Percy was bored.
  • They taught him to fight, but Percy was sad and frightened by the blood shed in front of him.
  • Percy didn't understand why everyone was so stiff and looked so frightened.
  • He misses the forest. He misses the trees. But most of all he misses the chorus of birdsong. The laugh of the green woodpecker. The lullaby of the nightingale.
  • He gets lost in the street and discovers a party of street musicians playing with weird and wonderful instruments. He has never come across such beautiful sounds, and each instrument reminds him of his woodland friends.At the end of the set, Percy asks if he can buy the instruments with the kings coins. The poos musican's eyes widen like soup plates.
  • He races back to the knights, says thank you for everything they have taught him, but says he must say goodbye. He unburdens himself of his armour and mounts his horse bundle of instruments - racing back to the forest singing bird like melodies all the way home.
  • The journey was long and tiring.
  • Finally he returned to the forest he knew and loved. Everything had remained the same. The animals all greeted him with pure joy.
  • Now Percy was not able to listen, but join in with the birdsong he so dearly loved.

  • When I prepared my Dummy book there were issues with the story which became most apparent when I was able to share the book with my group during the mid module review. The key issues revolved around Percy’s arrival in Camelot. He too quickly lost interest in the city. There was not enough of a transition from him discovering the wonders of the new environment to ultimately wanting to return back to a natural setting. There was also the issue of buying the instruments from the musicians. It seemed to make sense to use the king’s money as a way of Percy bring something back to the forest as a gift from civilisation, but it almost felt like a type of colonisation in reverse, and it felt unsatisfactory.

    I also was trying to squeeze too much text on some of the pages, which stilted the flow of the narration. Although I was trying to keep down the number of pages of the book, it became apparent that I would need to stretch out some aspects of the story, to give the narrative space to breathe.

    4. Final draft

    So after the mid module review I adjusted the text a couple of times and finally landed on this version of the story.

    1. A long time ago, there was a boy called Percy who lived n a forest
  • He loved swimming in rivers
  • He enjoyed eating fruit straight from the tree
  • And Percy preferred sleeping under the light of the moon.
  • But most of all he loved listening to birds singing
  • Percy felt like the happiest boy in the world
  • One day, three knights came riding into the forest
  • Percy's eyes became as wide as soup spoons
  • He had never seen such beautiful hats
  • Or such curly moustaches
  • The knights told their new forest friend that they were on their way to visit King Arthur
  • Percy had never been outside of the forest, let alone to see a real king.
  • Percy asked if he could go with them and the knights gladly agreed.
  • They rode through the night with only the moonlight to guide thier way
  • Eventually they arrived in a town called Camelot.
  • In preparation for meeting the king, the knights showed him the proper way to dress.
  • The proper way to walk, eat, talk, kiss and fight.
  • After all of his training, Percy was finally considered ready to meet the king.
  • The king was delighted to meet him and rewarded him by making him a knight.
  • Percy was now a wealthy knight much loved by the people of Camelot.
  • But something was missing. The smell of the forest was nowhere to be found.
  • There were no trees to climb
  • Or soft soil to walk on.
  • But most of all there was no birdsong which Percy has so dearly loved.
  • Suddenly, Percy heard the most mesmerising sound coming from afar.
  • He followed the sound and as he got closer his heart began to flutter.
  • The townsquare was filled with merrymakers dancing in the moonlight.
  • At the centre of the party was a lively group of musicians playing joyful melodies.
  • Each song reminded Percy of the birds he used to know so well.
  • The ee-oh-lay of the flute sounded like the song thrush.
  • The pai-ow-ey-awe of the bladder pipe was reminiscent of a peacock cry
  • And the plucking of the harp mirrored the the morning song of the lark
  • Percy knew it was his time to leave Camelot and make his way back to his forest friends.
  • The animals greeted the knight with great joy and open hearts
  • And the birds of the forest gathered to hear all about his adventures.
  • At last Percy was back where his heart belonged.

  • There were moments in the previous draft which felt too brief. For instance there was not enough time spent with the Knights. So I detailed some of the aspects of the Knights which Percy was most drawn to, namely their hats and moustaches. I also added in an illustration of the Knights and Percy having a cup of tea together to emanate the period of time they spend together in the forest. After some guidance from Becky Palmer, I also gave a narrative pause to the point when Percy realises that despite his wealth and popularity something is missing from his life. As Becky said ‘it deserved a page turn’.The other aspect I developed was highlighting the relationship between the bird song and the instruments being played at the festivities. This I hope gives extra prominence to the bird’s influence over Percy.