There will be much more to come over the next few weeks and months about our pilot story, Pear Blossom. But since this particular story is so important to me, and to Fablist, I wanted to give a quick background on the story itself and our version of it.
Almost every kid in the Western world is familiar with the story of Cinderella, right? But most of us also know that the Grimm brothers' version (that spawned Disney's and so many others) wasn't the first one to exist. Depending on who you believe there are dozens or even hundreds of versions from around there world. There's a great run down of nine of them on Mic.com.
But since my oldest two daughters are adopted from South Korea, I've become quite familiar with the Korean version that features magical animals instead of a fairy godmother, just one nasty step-sister, a sickly (not dead) father. There is the iconic missing shoe, and the mysterious identity of the heroine at a party. I've probably read 5 different versions of this particular iteration of the "Cinderella" story, and even among those the differences are interesting and meaningful.
The challenge I created for myself was to update and modify the story in such a way that it retained some familiarity with what most kids know, but rejected some of the stereotypes and patterns that make parents roll their eyes in boredom. So, without giving too much away, we've kept both of Pear Blossom's parents alive, and swapped in a mean Uncle for the stepmother. And we're keeping the Korean tokgabi (those magical creatures), and adding in a few of our own (that may or may not talk!).
One of my favorite things about some of the versions of Pear Blossom I've read is the subtle thread of karma throughout. You could argue that this exists in the familiar Disney version, in that Cinderella is so kind and gentle in the face of cruelty, and gets her reward in the end, but it's not made explicit in any meaningful way.
So instead of the vague "dreams coming true," we're threading in the idea that if you put good into the world, you will eventually get good back out. That's not "karma" in a traditional Buddhist sense, perhaps, and devout Presbyterians will tell you that their good deeds come from a different motivation. But would any parents argue with teaching their kids to do good? To be kind? And to believe that a life of kindness and good deeds will lead to a happy life, whatever mechanism you may ascribe to the process?
As I said at the outset, there is much more to come about Pear Blossom, but as a final teaser, here is our Pear Blossom as imagined by the great Kris Wollaeger.
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!