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The transformation of "Tam Lin" : an analysis of folktale picture books Mullen, Ginger

Abstract

The folktale picture book is rooted in a common folklore as well as literary and illustrative traditions. Scholarship indicates the necessity for evaluative criteria to be proposed for this unique genre which, subsequently, would assist writers, illustrators, critics and, due to their dependence on written retellings, storytellers. I group critical questions stemming from the adaptation a folktale to a folktale picture book into four categories. The first source acknowledgement, asks whether an author has credited folktale sources used when researching the retelling. The second, narrative features, examines changes made to a folktale's plot, characters and setting. The third, stylistic features, looks at the techniques by which a folktale works as an oral story and asks if the folktale picture book also lends itself to oral performance, preserves recurring symbols and images, and effectively uses diction. The final category, illustrative features, explores the ways in which an artist incorporates folklore into the pictures by means of mirroring the text, accurately presenting the culture, bringing additional layers of meaning to the story, and respecting the folkloric text's presence on the page. I apply these questions to four picture books which maintain dominant motifs found in nine versions of the ballad of "Tam Lin" collected by Sir Frances Child: "Tamlane" by Judy Paterson and Sally J. Collins, "The Enchanted Forest" by Rosalind Kervan and Alan Marks, Tarn Lin by Susan Cooper and Warwick Hutton, and "Tam Lin" by Jane Yolen and Charles Mikolaycak. This analysis leads me to conclude that, around a base of source materials, the narrative, stylistic and illustrative categories that form my evaluative framework converge to form a metaphorical triangle; a good folktale picture book must be constructed from these equally important foundations; serious deficiency in one area affects the structural integrity of the entire book. On a more personal level, this investigation has prompted me to re-examine my own work as an oral storyteller. My version of "Tam Lin," ever a work in progress, has been changed by this evaluative framework as well as my experience with the picture books themselves.

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