When we first had the idea to launch Storytime magazine, one well-meaning soul suggested we might run out of stories. No chance! We’ve made it all the way to Storytime Issue 43 and we’ve had so many stories to pack in, Hans Christian Andersen’s Ugly Duckling is only just putting in an adorable but scruffy appearance. Rest assured readers, we will never run out of stories.
Storytime Issue 43 is special – not just because it features the long-awaited Ugly Duckling, but because it has one of my favourite ever stories in it, (I’ll reveal what it is below), and it has a lovely Easter story too. As usual, we’ve crammed it full of great content to help children at home and at school discover the joy of reading.
The illustrations that go with our stories are an important part of encouraging that passion. They help bring characters to life and make words more memorable, so find out more about our brilliant contributors below.
Inside Storytime Issue 43We’re very lucky to have illustrator and in-demand surface pattern designer Miriam Bos returning to Storytime for the third time with illustrations for The Ugly Duckling. Miriam’s work is famously joyful and colourful, so the transformation from a little grey duckling to a beautiful swan is extremely satisfying. We’re sure Hans Christian Andersen would approve. (Miriam also did our Bambi cover for Storytime Issue 18.)
School subscribers will be receiving our free Ugly Duckling resource pack full of lesson ideas for literacy, PSHE, science, art and more, so you can explore this classic fairy tale in more detail.
The Easter Crocodile is a funny new story by Dylan Rourke about a little crocodile who decides to step in when the Easter Bunny falls ill. But how exactly do you deliver chocolate eggs across a river on a scaly back? We hope you enjoy it along with the fabulous illustrations by Giovanni Abeille.Our first poem of the issue is the wacky and wonderful Have You Ever? This is a great action rhyme, which kids will love getting involved with. Give it a go too and you’re sure to end up laughing. Bonkers illustrations are by Matteo Gaggia.
Our Around the World Tale comes from Puerto Rico this month and features a favourite fictional character from that area called Juan Bobo – Bobo means ‘blockhead’, so you can probably guess how the story goes. Every culture has its own fool stories and we just love discovering new ones. We hope you do too. Juan Bobo’s Pot is illustrated by Andrés Pabón.
Another heart-warming tale in this issue, besides The Ugly Duckling, is our folktale in Storyteller’s Corner: The Clever Carpenter. It tells how a brother and sister who fall out with each other are reunited by the kindness of a stranger. It’s a lovely story from America with sweet illustrations by Marina Pessarrodona.Now for one of my favourite stories ever – The Giant’s Beards. It’s a Welsh legend, sometimes known as Rhitta of the Beards, about a giant who gets a bit too big for his boots and decides to make a cloak from the beards of his competitors. It’s funny, daring and features beards galore, but best of all, it’s set in Snowdonia National Park. I hope you enjoy it! Fantastic illustrations are by Guilherme Franco.
We’ve reached letter T in Alphabet Zoo which can only mean TIGER! But also tapirs and toucans. Though we have great fun with our Alphabet Zoo poetry series, there’s a lot to learn and a serious message about conservation too. As always, our illustrations are by Tim Budgen and you can download our free Alphabet Zoo Activity Packs here.
Finally, our fable The Golden Plate comes from India and sees a greedy man get what he deserves. If only some of our world leaders had read more fables as children. Pamela Wehrhahne provided the glittering illustrations for this fable.
It’s another varied issue and features a careful balance of stories and poems that are light-hearted and funny alongside ones that are deeper and more meaningful. The Ugly Duckling is especially poignant – now more than ever. It’s a story of difference, bullying and self-acceptance that we can all learn a lesson from. As we say in the introduction to this issue, we’re all beautiful deep down and stories are a great place to learn that, along with one of the most valuable skills of all – empathy.
Until next time, swans!