Tag Archives: Igbo folktales

30 Tips for Writing Delightful Children’s Books


Ernest Hemingway

This could mean, write about the things you’ve seen, done, heard, loved, felt, basically experienced. If you’ve flown upside down in a plane, that could be the beginning of a story set in year 3054 with human characters who walk on their heads! If you’ve felt sadness over the loss of a pet, you can write about the loss of a loved one.

Basically, take what you know, add sprinkles of salt and pepper to it and voila! Your story!

I have always loved stories! Long before I discovered stories in written form, I found love in oral stories, particularly Igbo folktales. I heard tons of Igbo folktales as a child. I know Igbo folktales like the back of my hand. Naturally, when I started writing seriously, my first thought was to recreate Igbo folktales. But I couldn’t reproduce all the folktales I’d heard, could I?

Enter Fractured Folktales

A fractured folktale is a folktale that is revised or rewritten to appeal to a contemporary audience. It can be laced with humour or restructured to a deliver a social justice message.

  1. Action: Take that folktale you know and love and change something about it.
  • Give it a different main character (or rewrite it from another character’s point of view) or change the human characters to animals or vice versa OR
  • Change the theme OR
  • Give it a different beginning or ending OR
  • Give it a different setting. Take it from year 1601 to year 2075!

2. Read:

Picture Book:

The Greedy Ostrich by Olusayo Ajetunmobi (Original Folktale: Yoruba)

The Missing Chicken by Ugo Anidi (Original folktale: Igbo: How Tortoise Married a Wife with a Grain of Corn)

Chapter Book:

Afro the Girl with the Magical Hair by Okechukwu Ofili (Original fairytale: Brothers Grimm: Rapunzel)

These books are available on the Farafina Books website.

3. More research: Read my blogpost on creating contemporary stories from Igbo folktales here

Want to write a story for children, don’t know where to start? Try a fractured folktale (or fairytale) today. Tell me all about it.

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Igbo Folktales and Contemporary Picture Books … what’s the connection?

In this short presentation, I look at the core elements of Igbo folktales and how they can be recreated in contemporary picture books.  


Four Essential Components of Igbo Folktales

  1. Structure: 4 parts: Beginning, Conflicting Action, Resolution/End and Moral Lesson
  2. Characters: Flat or One-dimensional.
  3. Refrain: Recited or Sung for audience participation, entertainment, emphasis.
  4. Moral Lesson: Like biblical parables, they encourage good behaviour and decry bad behaviour.


Donaldson,  Julia, and Axel Scheffler. Room on the Broom. Puffin Books, 2003.

Donaldson,  Julia, and Axel Scheffler. The Gruffalo. Puffin Books, 2006.

Ewata, Thompson Olusegun, Titilade Adefunke Oyebade, and Inya Onwu. “Generic Structure Potential of Some Nigerian Folktales.” International Journal of English Language and Linguistics Research, 2018, 6 (2) 73 – 87.

Herumun, Wendy. “The Issue of Authenticity in Children’s Literature As It Relates to Folktales: How Should the Story be Told?” Critical Thesis, Summer/Fall 2001. Vermont College of Fine Arts Commons.

Mora, Oge. Saturday. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019.

Mora, Oge. Thank You, Omu. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2018.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

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