Storytime Issue 43 – Out Now!

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, storytime issue 43 - out now, ugly duckling, easter stories, bedtime stories

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 43

kids magazine subscriptions, storytime magazine, storytime issue 43 - out now, ugly duckling, hans christian andersen

The adorable Ugly Duckling – who could possibly reject him? Art by Miriam Bos.

We’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.

Storytime magazine, poetry for kids, magazine subscriptions kids

Matteo Gaggia’s fun illustrations for our Storytime Issue 43 action rhyme Have You Ever?

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.

storytime issue 43 - out now, storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, uk's favourite story magazine, subscription gifts kids

Rhitta the Giant in a Welsh legend illustrated by Guilherme Franco, Storytime Issue 43

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.

Do let us know your favourite stories and illustrations from the issue on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We truly value your feedback.


Until next time, swans!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Illustrator Interview with Gaia Bordicchia

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, storytime magazine, illustrator interview gaia bordicchia

A lovely thing about working on Storytime is watching the careers of illustrators we’ve worked with blossom – and cheering them on from the sidelines. We’ve seen many illustrators land their first book deals, win prizes or simply develop their style into something truly unique and special.

We think Italian illustrator Gaia Bordicchia has been blessed with a uniquely beautiful and recognisable style from the start, but we’ve loved watching her career go from strength to strength in the last few years. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to continue working with Gaia and, to date, she has illustrated four stories for Storytime, including our magical Nutcracker Christmas cover.

In our latest Storytime Issue 42, she illustrated our fable Little Mouse Makes Friends, so we thought it was high time we featured an illustrator interview with Gaia Bordicchia to give you an insight into her extraordinary creative mind.

Illustrator Interview: 11 Questions with Gaia Bordicchia


1. How did you get started in illustration? Were you arty as a child?

kids magazine subscriptions, magazines for kids, stories for kids, Storytime magazine, Illustrator Interview Gaia Bordicchia

Gaia’s beautifully coloured illustrations for Heidi in Storytime Issue 14

Yes, drawing has always been part of my life. My grandad was a painter and bought all kinds of art supplies for my cousins and I. I think every kid enjoys drawing, though for some there’s a sense of wellbeing connected to that moment. Those are the children who could potentially pursue a career in art or illustration, because that very simple feeling stays the same even when you grow up. I didn’t really consider becoming an illustrator until I was 19.


2. Do you have any favourite artists or illustrators who have influenced your work and why?

I have so many it’s hard to name all of them! I’m intrigued by stories and I like both children’s books and comics. There are many hugely talented people working today. I grew up admiring Arthur Rackham’s and Edmund Dulac’s fairy-tale llustrations. I’ve always been a big fan of N.C. Wyeth and his son Andrew, as well as Edward Hopper and Norman Rockwell. I’m also very interested in French books as the illustrators are excellent – especially Rebecca Dautremer, Annette Marnat and Clément Lefèvre.


kids magazine subscriptions, Illustrator Interview Gaia Bordicchia, storytime magazine, Nutcracker

Gaia’s gorgeous and vibrant Nutcracker cover (Storytime Issue 27)

3. We’ve had the pleasure of working with you on four different stories in Storytime – Fate Finds a Fish, Heidi, The Nutcracker and Little Mouse Makes Friends. Which was your favourite to work on and why?

Tough question! I enjoyed all of them for different reasons. Illustrating your cover was a lot of fun (Storytime Issue 27) and The Nutcracker offers so much in terms of detail and atmosphere, but I’m also a huge fan of folk tales and classic fairytales!


4. What was your process for creating your Little Mouse Makes Friends illustrations for Storytime Issue 42?

Little Mouse was a bit more experimental. Thank you for trusting me with a new technique! I created a base rendering in pencil and then I added the colors with Photoshop. I also did some minor tweaks to the drawing, but it’s quite different from a fully digital illustration and it’s important that the composition is planned well ahead.

magazine subscriptions for kids, Gaia Bordicchia, Storytime magazine, magazines for kids, stories for kids, fables for kids

A scene from Little Mouse Makes Friends, illustrated by Gaia for Storytime Issue 42

5. You’ve had a lot of exciting new projects in the past year as well as moving house and juggling family life. How do you fit it all in and keep the creative spirit going? Do you have any top tips?

I try to stay on top of the madness and I often fail! Juggling work and life is always very tricky, but taking care of yourself should be the top priority. We tend to push to the finishing line, often disregarding sleep or fun and it’s a big mistake. I’ve learned to accept the bad days where I can’t get any art done because I’m not in the right headspace. Instead of forcing it, I quit immediately and tend to the practical things (house chores, admin work) or I simply go for a walk. I know that the following day I’ll work twice as much if I allow myself to stop. I’m also a little more careful and realistic with the commissions I take. I try to avoid overlapping schedules, but it’s not always possible.


6. Your illustrations for The Amazing Animal Atlas with Flying Eye Books are stunning. When did your passion for wildlife illustration begin?

kids magazine subscriptions, storytime magazine, stories for kids, illustrator interview with Gaia Bordicchia

We highly recommend The Amazing Animal Atlas by Nick Crumpton and Gaia Bordicchia

Wildlife illustration is how I started in the late 90s. I took two beautiful classes at the end of my illustration degree. The first with Massimo Demma and the second with Franco Testa, who was Massimo’s former teacher. They worked together in a little studio in Milan and after graduation they invited me as a kind of apprentice. For a few years I had my little desk there, I could use their library and they introduced me to some of the wildlife magazines and clients they had. All the work was done in watercolours, though towards the end of the 90s many of these magazines closed or replaced illustrations with stock photography. In 1998, I was selected for the Illustrators’ Exhibition at Bologna Children’s Book Fair and I stopped working as a wildlife artist.

The Amazing Animal Atlas was an incredible opportunity to bring that old world back to life and, even though the art in the book is digital, the process was the same. There is one scorpion on the African spread that is done in watercolors and luckily you can’t tell the difference! Flying Eye asked me to add this element when my computer was broken so I picked up the brushes again for a day.

I’m very proud of The Amazing Animal Atlas. It’s the best book I’ve done so far!


7. Looking at your Instagram feed, we see that you’re pretty playful with art supplies. We love your biro drawings. What’s your preferred creative medium and why?

storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, illustrator interview with Gaia Bordicchia

We’ve been lucky enough to work with Gaia since Storytime Issue 5 and this folktale, Fate Finds a Fish

I’m an old dog who gets bored very easily so playing is important. I started as a traditional illustrator and I often find computer work frustrating. I love watercolours and pencils. With computer work, I tend to be lazy, because almost everything can be altered at a later stage (colour, composition, etcetera.) Watercolours are one of the least forgiving mediums, so thinking ahead is important and it’s a great exercise.


8. Are there any favourite projects you’re working on at the moment that you can tell us about?

I am working on a pop-up with Usborne that will be published next year and I’m finishing a book with Editions Milan. Also I’m very excited about some black and white illustrations I’m developing with my new agent and I hope they will eventually become a story.


9. What would be your dream project or are there any different areas you’d like to explore?

As a wildlife artist I’d love to work with museums, botanical gardens and aquariums. I really enjoy collaboration with people who have something new to teach me and scientists are incredibly nice.


Illustrator Interview with Gaia Bordicchia, Storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids

Another wonderful scene from Gaia’s illustrations for Heidi in Storytime Issue 14

10. Is there any advice you can give to children (or aspiring artists) who want to get into illustration?

Drawing is a matter of practice, so as long as you’re passionate about it, there is a lot you can learn just by investing your time. Listen to the advice of those who are more experienced than you. Take in what you need and ignore everything that doesn’t ‘feel’ like you or is too big to tackle at the moment. You can always go back to that bit of advice when you’re ready.

Illustration is a never-ending learning curve. We never arrive. It can be very frustrating, but it also means that it never gets boring unless you allow it to. Ultimately though, it’s also a business and you’ll be running it as a one-man-band. Don’t be discouraged by rejections, but be prepared and realistic about it.


11. Finally, what would be your dream fairy tale to illustrate?

Peter Pan!



To see more of Gaia’s amazing portfolio, visit her website – it’s a bit like bathing in a rainbow… a tasteful one! You’ll see what we mean. To keep up with her latest work, don’t miss her inspiring Instagram feed, which comes with the occasional video, so you can watch her illustrations in action. You can also catch up with Gaia on Twitter.


We hope this has inspired you. Whether you’re a wannabe illustrator or not, there are many gems here for creative types.

Be inspired and passionate this week,

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Issue 42 – Out Now!

magazine subscriptions for kids, magazines for schools, kids magazine subscriptions, storytime magazine

At Storytime, we’re all about bringing joy, so we hope kids will be delighted this month to discover that dinosaurs do still exist – or at least they do in Storytime Issue 42, which is out now!

Once again it’s bursting with brilliant stories, old and new, and awesome illustrations too. Plus, there are activities throughout the magazine, puzzles, a game, a craft and a Book of the Month (win it here!). You can find out more about it and our contributors below.

But first, in this issue, we reveal the winner of our 3rd Anniversary Create-a-Creature Art Competition, which we ran in our September 2017 issue. Congratulations to the super-talented Lara McKeating, aged 6, for her imaginative and colourful creation, the Octamerdog. Isn’t it amazing? We hope this is the beginning of a career in illustration for Lara. It was tough coming up with a shortlist as there are so many incredible entries, but we were helped by ace illustrator and judge, Luke Flowers. Our thanks to Luke!

storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids

Congratulations to Lara McKeating – our competition winner!


Inside Storytime Issue 42

This month’s issue opens with our cover story – a new tale to stoke the fire of every child’s imagination. Who knows what you might find at the end of your garden? Leo’s Dino is the creation of new writer Emma Sheedy and was illustrated by Karina Lemesheva. We’ve created a dino-tastic teaching resource pack with facts and activities to accompany this story. Our Storytime school subscribers get it free.

storytime magazine, magazine subscriptions for kids, bedtime stories, sloth stories, animal stories

Seals are one of the stars of our latest Alphabet Zoo with art by Tim Budgen.

Alphabet Zoo returns with the letter S. We have a stupendous sloth, not-so-smelly skunks, skydiving sugar gliders and swimming seals. Tim Budgen provides the wonderful animal illustrations and we have an Alphabet Zoo Activity Pack for you to download for free!

Gaia Bordicchia returns to Storytime with illustrations for our Famous Fable – Little Mouse Makes Friends. It’s a cautionary tale for first-time explorers. This is Gaia’s fourth outing in Storytime and we’ll be interviewing her about her work soon, so do watch this space.

Our Around the World Tale comes all the way from Africa and tells of a female adventurer who was the first person to bring stories to her people. The beautiful illustrations for How Stories Began are by Francesca de Luca.

This month’s Favourite Fairytale brings you a story you may not have heard before, but is hundreds of years old. Prince Dearborn and Grandfather Knowitall features a fairy godmother, a young man who defies the odds, a greedy king and a grandfather with a magical surprise. It has a fabulous art by Soyun Park.

storytime issue 42, storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions

Sophie Beer’s colourful camel for Storytime Issue 42!

We love a funny poem, so The Camel by Charles Edward Carryl just had to be in Storytime. It should give you a new-found respect for camels and Sophie Beer has done a brilliant job of the illustrations.

We’ve given a little nod to Valentine’s Day with the tragic Greek myth Echo and Narcissus, which is illustrated by Giada Gatti. Not all stories have happy endings, like this one, but its link to the origin of echoes and the narcissus flower give it a romantic quality that makes it as popular today as it ever has been.

Finally, from Ireland, we have a famous folktale of fairy mischief – The Legend of Knockgrafton. Alexandra Badiu rose to the challenge of illustrating the difficult lead characters in this story. It’s unusual, but also memorable. We hope you’ll singalong!


We hope that inspires you to get hold of a copy or to subscribe to Storytime. Here’s a quote from one of our new subscribers, who was chatting with us on Facebook the other day:

“Fantastic magazine… got our first issue on Monday and already read one story and a poem… kept little man’s attention which means it’s definitely a winner!!!”

As you can imagine, this absolutely made our day. Why not get in touch with us too? We’re also on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Read happily every after!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

A Story for Every Month of the Year

kids magazine subscriptions, a story for every month, magazine subscriptions for kids, storytime, storytime magazine, bedtime storiesIn our latest edition of Storytime, Issue 41, we had great fun commissioning the illustrations for Christina Rossetti’s classic poem, The Months, and also creating a teaching resource pack for our school subscribers. (Find out more about getting these free resources on our Storytime for Schools site).

The months of the year and the order they come in are essential facts that children need to learn, like the days of the week and the colours of the rainbow, but they’re also wonderfully emotive. We associate the months with special occasions that are personal to us, major events and the weather – all of which provoke strong feelings. It was a challenge for illustrator Tuomas Ikonen to cram this all into two pages, but he handled it brilliantly.

kids magazine subscriptions, storytime magazine, christina rossetti, months for kids, poetry for kids

How do you feel about December and January? Art by Tuomas Ikonen.

In her poem, Christina Rossetti expresses in a few choice words what each month means or brings, yet her use of the words ‘bleak’ and ‘desolate’ for December and January reveals that perhaps these aren’t her favourite times of year. It’s a short and simple poem, but it says a lot – and it’s an excellent starting point to inspire children to create their own month poems. What does each month mean to them?

This poem inspired us to think about stories that express the emotions or events of each month of the year – is there a Storytime poem or story for every month of the year? We looked into our ever-expanding story archives and discovered that yes, there is! Here’s what we came up with…


A Story for Every Month of the Year

kids magazine subscriptions, a story for every month

January: Cosy up with The Polar Bear Son from Storytime Issue 16. Art by Anais Goldemberg.

January – You have two options for this most challenging month of the year. You can embrace the bitter cold and cosy up under a blanket with a snowy story, like the Inuit tale, The Polar Bear Son (from Storytime Issue 16). Alternatively, you can rebel against it, book your summer holiday and fill your life with colour. If you fall into this camp, we recommend Storytime Issue 4’s vibrant Aborigine myth The Rainbow Snake.

February – Whether you pay attention to Valentine’s Day or not, you can’t deny that it lifts an otherwise dreary month at the tail-end of winter. With a vengeful goddess, a magical palace, and a series of challenges to face, the Roman myth Cupid and Psyche is action-packed enough to satisfy even the most romance-averse young reader. It’s also probably the inspiration for Beauty and the Beast. We featured it in Storytime Issue 17.

The Velveteen Rabbit, magazine subscriptions for kids, storytime magazine

March: The Velveteen Rabbit, illustrated by Lisa Sheehan, in Storytime Issue 9.

March – Though Easter doesn’t always fall in March, excitement is certainly building for the spring holiday and the thought of chocolate eggs galore. Though we have an Easter story coming up soon (The Easter Crocodile in Storytime Issue 43), we recommend a vintage classic: The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco. It appeared in Storytime Issue 9 with illustrations by Lisa Sheehan. (Read an interview with Lisa here.)

April – We can’t think of any better way to start this month than with William Wordsworth’s spirit-lifting celebration of spring, Daffodils. Follow it with a daffodil walk and see how many nodding golden heads you can spot. We featured a learn-off-by-heart version of this famous poem in Storytime Issue 31.

May – May is the trickster month. It can’t quite decide whether it wants to be warm or not. Just when you’re lulled into a false sense of summery security, it pours with rain. The perfect story to sum it up is the fable The Wind and the Sun from Storytime Issue 12, which is battle of the elements. Read an interview with its illustrator Luke Flowers here.

storytime magazine, bedtime stories, a story for every month, kids magazine subscriptions

June: Alfie the Pirate sets sail in Storytime Issue 30! Art by Jen Taylor.

June – The days are longer, the weather’s fine and it’s time for adventure. Alfie the Pirate sails the seas of his own back garden and takes on his greatest enemy, Rufus the Wretched in this new story, which appeared in Storytime Issue 30. It will appeal to little explorers everywhere.

July – With thoughts turning to summer holidays and seaside adventures, stoke the excitement with a story set by the sea. We like the fable The Crab Walk (in Storytime Issue 24) for its silly humour and bright illustrations, but also the poem Minnie and Winnie by Alfred Lord Tennyson for its depiction of children sleeping in a seashell. Read it in Storytime Issue 23.

August – If you’re staying at home for the summer holidays, use stories as your escape route to exotic climes. The perfect story for this is the Hawaiian myth The Volcano Goddess, which has wall to wall tropical illustrations. By the time you’ve finished reading it, you’ll feel like you’ve been there. Find it in Storytime Issue 36)

storytime, kids magazine subscriptions

September: I Want to Be a Pencil Sharpener. A story by Eszter Molnar, illustrated by Jess Pauwels, in Storytime Issue 35.

September – Back to school can be both exciting and daunting. Lighten the mood with one of our school stories. We recommend I Want to Be a Pencil Sharpener by Eszter Molnar in Storytime Issue 35. It’s a story about being yourself – something worth reminding every child at the beginning of a school year.

October – It’s spooky season and plenty of witches, pumpkins and giants have graced the pages of Storytime since we launched. However, for atmosphere and because it’s a classic folktale, the story we’d go for this month is The Fire Fairy (from Storytime Issue 14). It’s also a cautionary (but not too scary) tale for children who don’t go to bed when they should.

November – The seasons pass and autumn fades into winter. The Queen of Winter is an old Scottish legend, which is not heard or read nearly often enough. It describes how winter comes and how it refuses to go and, best of all, it reminds you that it will be spring again before you know it. It appeared in Storytime Issue 15.

December – The year draws to a close with dreams of a white Christmas, festive excitement and lots of opportunities for snuggly storytimes. We recommend the wonderful folktale The Red Mitten (from Storytime Issue 27), which features a cute cast of animal characters. Or, if you want a classic, there’s no better poem than Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St Nicholas – the star of Storytime Issue 40.


How about starting each month with one of these stories? If you don’t have all of the issues listed above, you can pick them up from our Back Issue Shop. Or why not get together with your child to make up your own story or poem inspired by a particular month of the year? Or a story for every month – it can be short! We’d love to see what you come up with.

You can let us know if you completed the challenge on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest!

Happy reading all year round,


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Issue 41 Is Here!

storytime issue 41 is out now, kids magazine subscriptions, gift subscriptions for kids, kids magazines subscriptions, snow white

What better way to kick off 2018 than with another amazing Storytime issue?

Packed with super stories, outstanding illustrations, puzzles, activities, book recommendations and a game, Storytime Issue 41 is out now. Gracing our cover, we have Snow White and Rose Red – two of the most tolerant heroines ever to star in a fairy tale. You’ll see why when you read it. Without further ado, take a look inside and meet our amazing creative collaborators. Adventure awaits you!

Inside Storytime Issue 41

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, storytime 41 issue is out now, snow white

Snow White and Rose Red befriend the world’s snuggliest bear in Storytime 41! Art by Patrycja Fabicka.

As mentioned, this month’s cover and fairy tale is Snow White and Rose Red – and it’s not the story you think it is, even though it features a dwarf. Snow White isn’t even the same Snow White – all the more reason to read it if you don’t know it already! The tale is beautifully illustrated by Patrycja Fabicka.

Our first poem in the issue is The Months by Christina Rossetti. This is a fantastic rhyme for discovering the months and the seasons, so it’s ideal for home learning and schools. We’ve even put together a free Teaching Resource Pack packed with brilliant month-themed activities, all linked to the curriculum. If you’re a Storytime school subscriber, you’ll get it automatically. We hope you enjoy it and the super-cool illustrations by Tuomas Ikonen.

Baby Elephant is a new story by writer Christine Kelly. Christine is a former midwife, but confesses she has never had to deliver a baby elephant! Nowadays, Christine spends her time writing stories and plays for young people, and is a volunteer reader at a local school. We hope you like the twist in this sweet tale and the cute illustrations by Roisin Hahessy.

kids magazine subscription, magazine subscriptions for kids, magazine for kids, best bedtime stories, chinese new year stories, storytime issue 41 is out now

Wonderful art by Mei Mo for our Chinese zodiac story, The Emperor’s Race

To coincide with Chinese New Year, Storytime Issue 41’s myth is The Emperor’s Race. It’s the story of how the Chinese zodiac came to be and how the order of the twelve animals was chosen. We’ve put together a Chinese Zodiac Sheet, which you can pick up from our Free Downloads page so young readers can find out which Chinese zodiac animal they are. Are you like your animal? The gorgeous artwork for this story is by Mei Mo.

Our Famous Fable in Storytime Issue 41, The King of the Frogs, tells of a bored posse of frogs who decide to badger the big guy (Jupiter) for a new boss to lead and entertain them. As in all good fables, things don’t go as expected and Jupiter has a lesson teach. Be careful what you wish for? We wished for stunning illustrations for this story and we got them, courtesy of Hugo Cuellar. We won’t give away too much, but there’s a big bird that blew us away.

storytime issue 41 is out now, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, best bedtime stories, folktales for kids, winter stories for kids

Jack takes on the world in Storytime Issue 41, with brilliant illustrations by Glenn Thomas.

More wondrous artwork came our way thanks to Glenn Thomas, who illustrated our funny folktale, Strong Jack. Poor old Jack is determined to prove he’s the strongest in the world, but the elements are against him in this tale that’s as old and strong as the hills. It’s also a good starting point for discussing the opposites weak and strong.

Tales of strength continue in this issue’s Around the World Tale from Fiji. It brings you the ultimate underwater battle – teeth versus tentacles – as the Shark God challenges the Octopus God. Who do you think will win? This story is another visual feast with bright and bold artwork by Tony Ganem. This story also inspired us to come up with a new board game. Read the story first, then re-enact it with your own Shark versus Octopus battle in the back of the magazine! You can Download our free Game Counters here. Let us know who takes the ocean crown!

storytime issue 41 is out now, magazine subscriptions for kids, magazines for kids, best bedtime stories, quokkas, red pandas, alphabet zoo

Red pandas rule in Storytime Issue 41’s Alphabet Zoo, with awesome art by Tim Budgen.

Finally, can you believe we’ve reached letters Q and R in our Alphabet Zoo poetry series already? This month, your zoo trip features smily quokkas, laid-back red pandas, majestic rhinos and rocking rattlesnakes. As ever, the animals have been created by none other than Tim Budgen. Don’t forget to download your free Alphabet Zoo Pack, which has extra animal facts, activities and posters.


It doesn’t matter how grey and gloomy it is outside, you can always guarantee a rainbow of colour and armchair adventure galore in Storytime… and Storytime Issue 41 is no exception!

Feast your eyes on more amazing images and story inspiration on our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Be brave – say hello!

Speak soon,


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Christmas News from Storytime

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, storytime magazine, christmas news, bedtime stories, children's stories, stories for kids

Another busy Storytime year draws to a close and we have a lot of Christmas news and much to be thankful for. Firstly, September 2017 marked our 3rd anniversary. Three years of children’s stories! We wouldn’t have got there without our wonderful readers, which now come from countries all over the globe.

These include many hundreds of schools, where we’re gathering evidence that Storytime is making a real and positive difference in the classroom. For all the teachers out there who use Storytime in guided reading, paired reading, peer-to-peer reading buddy groups and good old-fashioned, on-the-carpet story times, we are over the moon that you enjoy our stories. We truly appreciate how much you have embraced our magazine. Thank you.

We’re also incredibly grateful for the opportunity, once again, to collaborate with so many talented illustrators from all over the world. Every month, we make an effort to link to them in this blog and on our social media channels. (The brilliant art above and below is by Giorgia Broseghini, by the way!) Illustrators are a crucial part of our creative process and we’re incredibly lucky. If you’re interested in children’s illustration, we’ve got top tips on the creative process from illustrators including Tim Budgen, Luke Flowers and Lisa Sheehan. Enjoy!

This year, for the first time, we introduced a new section in Storytime called Tales from Today. It features contemporary stories from new and established writers. It’s been a real pleasure to read the submissions we’ve had and to work with writers as well as illustrators. If you’re a children’s writer looking for inspiration, read our interview with contributor, Dom Conlon.

A huge thank you to our clients too, who we work with under the guise of Storytime Studio. This year, we’ve had the pleasure to continue work with the Lee Valley Olympic venues. We’ve also been working on book development projects with an international publisher, a successful ‘escape room’ company, an innovative interactive museum, and we’ve developed a course for a digital education company – more on that next year! If you’d like to work with us, drop us a line at

We also need to give a shout-out to the international publishers and distributors who are helping us bring Storytime to other territories and helping children to learn English. We’ve having great success in Singapore (read about it here) and Hong Kong, with more countries coming soon. Plus our printer, distributor and proofreader and those extended members of the team who help it come together.

Finally – a big warm hug to all the children who enjoy Storytime and get excited when they see our colourful envelope pop through the letterbox. You’re the reason we made this magazine. We’d be nothing without you. Keep dreaming. Keep reading. Keep believing. You’re always on our ‘nice’ list.

Once more, it’s been an eventful and exciting year and we can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store! Thank you all so much and we wish you a very merry and restful Christmas. What better way to spend it than snuggled up with stories?

Warmest wishes from us all at Storytime!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

christmas news, storytime magazine, storytime, kids magazine subscriptions,

Writer Interview: Dom Conlon

storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, writer interview, dom conlon, hairy snowman, christmas stories

This month, we’re delighted to ring the changes (with Christmas bells of course) and bring you a writer interview rather than an illustrator interview. Dom Conlon’s unique and wonderful story The Hairy Snowman features in our festive Storytime Issue 40 with illustrations to match by Fabiola Colavecchio.

We loved Dom’s story for many reasons – it’s funny, unexpected, clever and it breaks a boring writing ‘rule’, which you can read about below. For that reason, it appealed to our sense of mischief, but also our hope that kids might be creatively liberated from some of the writing rules they pick up along the way. Finally, The Hairy Snowman is a masterclass in character naming. Just hearing the names Albert and Philippe makes us smile. We hope the story has made you smile too. Without further ado, let’s share a cuppa with its author…

Writer Interview: 11 Questions with Dom Conlon


storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, dom conlon, writer interview, hairy snowman

Dom Conlon: Writer, poet, Hairy Snowman builder

1. When did your passion for writing begin?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write and I’m glad that I’ve always been encouraged to. Giving impromptu poetry readings to my mum and dad are amongst my happiest memories. Teacher after teacher also encouraged me – some of them even let me use their offices during break time or fed me with books as I sat on my own in the classroom when the other children went swimming.


2. How does your day job inform your writing and does your writing influence your work?

I work as a copywriter for many different businesses from egg production to video games. This helps in surprising ways because part of my job is to find an exciting and succinct way to talk about so many things. When I write the words for a website or radio advertisement I need to get to the point quickly and it’s the same for a story or poem. Being clear about what I want to say is key to writing.


3. What advice can you offer to writers on keeping the creative mojo going, especially after a tough day at work?

Well it’s not easy but a few years ago I noticed that I was falling asleep on trains and buses and thought it would be more useful to use that time to write. I began setting myself the challenge of writing flash fiction – stories which would take only the time of my journey to complete. I missed my stop a lot in the early days, but eventually I began to get the timings right. The approach helped me do what I think is probably the most important thing in writing: FINISH SOMETHING. Once I finish a piece of writing I can see how to improve it. I get so much energy from finishing something, even as a first, very rough draft. That encourages me to get stuck into editing it and then sharing it with readers. It’s all part of the process of learning to write in a professional manner. Don’t wait for inspiration, go in search of it!

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, writer interview, dom conlon, storytime magazine

One of the many projects Dom has finished – his fabulous Tiny the Giant books

4. Which children’s writers and poets have influenced your work and why?

Oh so many. Mervyn Peake, Ursula Le Guin, J.R.R. Tolkien were the mainstays of my upbringing, but then as I grew old (not older, just old) I revelled in Jonathan Stroud, S.F. Said, Garth Nix and many more. Poets such as Spike Milligan, Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy, Brian Moses and more recently Joseph Coehlo, Nicola Davies (I’m calling her a poet because – well just read her books and you’ll see!), Chrissie Gittens and A.F. Harrold have broadened my understanding of what words can do.


5. What’s your favourite children’s short story and is there one you’d love to refresh and rewrite?

You featured it in Storytime! It’s The Magic Porridge Pot. (In Issue 8 get it here – Ed.) You did such a beautiful retelling that it tugged my brain for a long time afterwards and I began wondering what I’d do to make it different. I would also love to take a new look at The Tin Soldier or The Fir Tree in the way Sally Gardner and David Roberts did in their marvellous Tinder.


kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, christmas stories, Dom Conlon, writer interview

The Hairy Snowman by Dom Conlon and illustration by Fabiola Colavecchio

6. In The Hairy Snowman, you broke a writing ‘rule’ by telling the story only in dialogue. What inspired you to do this?

Two things: a book by Chris Wormell called Two Frogs, and an old British Rail advert featuring Spike Milligan. Both use dialogue to tell beautiful stories. I was lucky enough to have Chris comment on an early draft of the story and he gave me some feedback which brought it all together. There are so many rules in storytelling, but the only real measure of whether you’ve written something good is in the reaction of people. If it makes someone smile then it doesn’t matter how many rules you’ve broken.


7. Are there any favourite projects you’re working on at the moment?

I’m writing a book of poetry which probably breaks a whole bunch of rules and might well prove to be too difficult for me to write, but I’m giving it my best shot. I’ve also written a book called Badtime Stories, which is a collection of creepy short stories about twins called Jacob and Jacob who find bedtimes to be more than a little scary. The future of that book is something I’ll be talking about soon along with a super lovely picture book project I’ve just completed. So I have lots of things going on right now!


storytime magazine, magazine subscriptions for kids, kids magazine subscriptions, best childrens magazine, christmas stories, Dom Conlon

Fish and Drift – stories by Dom Conlon, illustrated by Carl Pugh.

8. Is there any work you’re particularly proud of?

I LOVE my short stories about two characters called Fish and Drift. Drift is a shambling, shapeshifting snowman who tries hard but just seems to cause problems. And Fish is a girl with a determined streak in her, which leads them into all sorts of adventures. I’ve written two short stories – both free to read on my website – but I would very much like to write a longer book for them.


9. What’s your process for writing?

I carry my phone with me everywhere. I use this less and less for talking to people and more and more for this very simple notepad application on it. Poetry, stories, thoughts all get jotted down wherever I am. I’ll sometimes write thousands of words in it and then use those when I sit at my desk for a more formal writing time. Making the most of every moment is really important so finding the simplest tool which suits you best is key here. If it’s a jotter and pen then use that. It takes longer to open a laptop and jot down a note than it does to tap a few words on a phone or into a pad and I find any obstacle to getting something down is another reason to stop writing.


10. What would be your dream writing project? Any illustrators you’d love to work with?

Dom Conlon, Astro Poetica, storytime magazine, storytime, kids magazine subscriptions, christmas stories, space stories, space poems for kids

The wonderful Astro Poetica by Dom Conlon.

Every story or poem I write is a dream project. I love writing about space and I have a collection of poetry called Astro Poetica which many, much more able writers than myself have praised). One day I’ll write more stories about the legends behind the constellations, but I want this to be more diverse than I can do alone. The names I know for the constellations (Orion, Scorpius, etc…) are rooted in Greek mythology. Move around the world and back in time and the stories change. I’d love to edit a book of stories from writers of all different backgrounds to show just how the stars have inspired and shaped our world today. I’d make it illustrated too and would love to work with people such as Catherine Hyde, Jeffrey Alan Love, Daniel Egneus, my friend Carl Pugh, David Roberts, David Litchfield and absolutely absolutely Viviane Schwartz who is simply extraordinary. (We also recommend Watcher of the Skies – a poetry anthology for kids themed around space and aliens from The Emma Press and featuring Dom’s poetry – Ed.)

kids magazine subscriptions, Dom Conjoin, Writer Interview, magazine subscriptions for kids

Read Dom’s poetry in Watcher of the Skies from The Emma Press

11. Are there any additional nuggets of advice you can give to anyone who wants to get into writing for children?

Finish something! Finish a story or poem and then put it to one side and start something new. After a few weeks, return to the first piece and you’ll see it in a new way which will help you improve it. I’d teach this in schools if I could. That’s my first bit of advice. The second would be ‘READ IT OUT LOUD’. Not in a whisper but properly out loud. Do it in private if you feel a bit shy but read it OUT LOUD because that will teach you so much about the rhythm of your writing. You’ll spot so many ways to improve your story or poem too. Finally, if you want to write for children do two things – READ lots of books for children, and join the SCBWI. This is an organisation of writers and illustrators who will support and guide you even when you say you want to terrify children with your stories.



Lots of sterling advice, inspiration and food for thought there in our writer interview with Dom. Do check out his brilliant site Inkology to read more of his stories and poems, and makes sure you follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram too.


Remember, a Hairy Snowman is not just for Christmas…

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Christmas Issue Out Now!

Storytime Issue 40, Storytime Christmas Issue, Christmas stories, Twas the Night Before Christmas, Clement Clarke Moore, Xmas stories for kids, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kidsOur Storytime Christmas Issue is out now and we’re jingling with excitement because and, as you can see from the image above, it’s a tinsel-covered treat, packed with Christmas stories for kids. Plus we have two wonderful poems: Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St Nicholas, and a wintry trip to Alphabet Zoo, featuring penguins and polar bears. We’ve pulled out all the stops to make this issue as sparkly and magical as possible. Here’s a bit more about each of our stories and our wonderful contributors…

A Festive Feast of Christmas Stories!

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, Storytime Issue 40, Storytime Christmas issue, Christmas stories for kids

A wonderful Christmas tree for our Little Donkey fable by Tatiana Obukhovich

Little Donkey starts the issue with the most dazzling Christmas tree you have ever seen. It’s a lovely fable, which has been given a fresh retelling. We’re grateful to illustrator Tatiana Obukhovic for all those twinkly lights and that lovely festive feel!

If it doesn’t snow where you are this Christmas, never fear, we’ve got a generous helping of the white stuff in our new story The Hairy Snowman. It’s a wonderfully funny tale by children’s author and poet Dom Conlon and it’s illustrated by Fabiola Colavecchio. We’ll be chatting with Dom on the blog next week, so you can find out more about his stories and get his top tips for children’s writing.

It wouldn’t be a Christmas issue without the nation’s favourite bird, Wee Robin Redbreast. This one goes on a special trip to visit Her Majesty The Queen! This story is adapted from an old Scottish folk tale and will warm the cockles of your heart. Illustrations are by Melany Altuna.

Our fairy tale follows the adventures of Silvercap and The Frost Fairies, and explains those intricate frost patterns you find on your windows in winter. It is beautifully illustrated by Davide Ortu and will have kids longing to play in the snow.

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, gift subscriptions for kids, Clement Clarke Moore, Twas the Night Before Christmas, Santa stories, Father Christmas stories

Georgia Broseghini’s gorgeous take on Santa in a Visit from St Nicholas, Storytime Issue 40

The highlight of our Storytime Christmas Issue and the star on the top of our tree is the classic Christmas poem A Visit from St Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore. You might know it as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. We’re so delighted with the gorgeous illustrations by Giorgia Broseghini. You can stare at them for hours and still not spot all the details. School subscribers will also get an amazing teaching resource pack to go with this poem. Find out more here.

We gave ourselves a pat on the back when we realised we could sneak letter P animals into our Christmas Alphabet Zoo. Polar bears and penguins – the perfect wintry combination! Illustrator Tim Budgen has done us proud again. If you download your free Alphabet Zoo Activity Pack, you’ll even get some cute polar bear and penguin mini cards to print out. Why not send them this Christmas?

This issue’s Myths and Legends section takes us to North America and a tall tale about folk hero Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Paul Bunyan is a giant of a fella and so is his ox. See how they fare in the Winter of the Blue Snow. We love the illustrations for this by Michel Verdu.

Our Storytime Christmas Issue closes with pantomime favourite, Aladdin. We last met him in Storytime Issue 1, when he found his magic lamp. This time round, he’s putting it to good use to win the heart of Princess Full Moon. Will he succeed? You’ll have to read the issue to find out! Colourful art for this is by La Studio.


With every issue of Storytime we have several hopes and aims. An important aim is that we help children fall in love with reading. Another is that, by doing so, we help improve their reading skills (and we have evidence that this is working). But there’s another, which seems more relevant now than at any other time of the year – that by sharing Storytime you can come together with your loved ones and create lasting memories. We hope with our Storytime Christmas Issue that this is the case.

If you have any photos of family Storytime sessions you’d like to share, we’d absolutely love to see them. Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. It would make our festive season to see them!

Wishing you all a cosy, story-filled time and in the words of St Nick himself…


Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Issue 39 Is Out Now!

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, christmas gift subscriptions for kids

Storytime Issue 39 is out now and, in this issue, we’re on a mission to brighten your month. November is a hump month. Halloween is done, it’s not quite Christmas and a few fireworks aren’t quite enough to make up for the gloom… so what you need are beautiful illustrations and a whole heap of magical stories!

In our latest Storytime magazine, you can travel from the jungle to the moon. You can meet fairies, giants, dwarfs, gods and witches. You can even race a slippery snail and hang out with orangutans. And when you’ve done all that, you can complete puzzles, get crafty, draw, colour, play a game and get book recommendations. As ever, we try to pack in as much quality content as we can.

Find out more about Storytime Issue 39 and the brilliant contributors who help us make the magazine what it is…

Inside Storytime Issue 39

kids magazine subscriptions, fairytales, magazine subscriptions for kids, Christmas gift ideas for kids

Squirrel and guinea pig chefs in Dwarf Longnose! Art by Paco Sordo

Our cover star this month is Dwarf Longnose, a fantastic fairy tale from 19th century German poet and writer Wilhelm Hauff, who sadly died at the age of 25. Dwarf Longnose isn’t quite what he seems, but you’ll have to read this fairy tale to find out why. We hope you also enjoy the guinea pig and squirrel chefs, the talking goose and the fantastic illustrations by our frequent collaborator, Paco Sordo.

Kicking off our issue is the Indian fable The Lion and the Rabbit with more colourful illustrations by Steve Brown. You might think it’s similar to The Dog and His Bone (from Storytime Issue 3), but dig a bit deeper and you’ll find a different moral message.

magazine subscriptions for kids, Storytime Issue 39 is out now, kids magazine subscriptions, kids subscription gifts

A lovely illustration for our Moon poem by Ilias Sounas

We hope kids will love our poem The Moon by Oliver Herford, which poses the question: how does the moon get smaller? The answers are pure silliness, but to save you the hassle of explaining, we’ve put together a Moon Phases Pack, which you can download from our Free Goodies page. It has extra moon-themed activities too. The lovely illustrations are by Ilias Sounas

The Fairy Dog is a sweet folktale from Wales with illustrations by Florence Guittard. It features a cute puppy and a message of kindness. You never know when the fairies might be watching…

We know our readers love our Around the World Tales and The Great Snail Race from Laos is a great story with fantastic and funny illustrations by Quang Phuc Pham. School subscribers also get a Teaching Resource Pack to go with this tale, as well as a bonus Xiang Mieng story. (Schools subscribe to Storytime here to take advantage of this offer.)

Storytime Issue 39 is out now, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, Christmas gift ideas

This giant is the best fun ever. Story by Jennifer Moore, art by Tomislav Zlatic

We’re really excited by the latest addition to our Tales from Today strand, The Jobless Giant. It’s by award-winning writer Jennifer Moore, and is sure to be pure wish fulfilment for many children. Who wouldn’t want to be best friends with a giant? Follow Jenny’s writing career on Twitter and do admire the work of illustrator Tomislav Zlatic.

Alphabet Zoo is more exciting than ever, as we meet animals beginning with the letters N and O. We defy you not to chuckle at the naked mole rats or fall in love with the orangutans – all thanks to the brilliant imagination of Tim Budgen. Download your free Alphabet Zoo Activity Pack here!

Finally, our stories conclude with a rare Norse myth in which the trickster Loki is actually helpful for a change! Loki’s Greatest Trick is set in Asgard and is brilliantly illustrated by Caio Bucaretchi.


So use the rain and the dark nights as an excuse to snuggle up with Storytime Issue 39 and let it transport your imagination. Got any comments on our stories or things you’d like to see in Stoytime? Let us know on any of our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. We love to hear from you!


Happy adventuring!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Illustrator Interview: Lisa Sheehan

kids magazine subscriptions, storytime magazine, mr nobody, lisa sheehan

At Storytime, we have a long list of must-have stories and poems. Mr Nobody by Elizabeth Prentiss has been sitting on that list since we launched. It will be new to some readers, but many will remember it from childhood. Mr Nobody is a cheeky character who is to blame for all the mishaps that happen in your home. From broken plates and muddy footprints to shoes lying around and doors left ajar – they’re Mr Nobody’s fault. As you can imagine, kids absolutely love this poem and parents enjoy reading it too.

Lisa Sheehan, Storytime, Nosy Crow, Lionel and the Lion's Share, magazines for kidsWe’re delighted that Mr Nobody finally snuck into Storytime Issue 38 and the perfect creative match for this retro poem was Lisa Sheehan – an illustrator we previously collaborated with on another classic, The Velveteen Rabbit in Storytime Issue 9.

Lisa’s career has gone from strength to strength since we first worked with her and she has a new book out soon too – Lionel and the Lion’s Share (read more about it below) – so we thought it would be fun to catch up and get some insight into her creative process. It involves zombies!


Illustrator Interview: 9 Questions with Lisa Sheehan


kids magazine subscriptions, Storytime magazine, Illustrator Interview: Lisa Sheehan

Lisa working on her new book, Lionel and the Lion’s Share, written by Lou Peacock. Out in January 2018

1. You followed your illustration degree with a career in graphic design. How has this benefited your illustration?

Yes, after finishing my BA Illustration at Kingston Uni I took a job as an in-house illustrator for a corporate company. They wanted someone who could draw as well as using a Mac – illustrators using Macs were quite rare then. Slowly I moved towards design and then, three years later, became a senior designer for the Financial Times, so I feel like I drifted towards graphic design. It wasn’t until I had my two daughters that I rekindled my love of illustration and decided to get back to my creative roots. I enrolled on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art and graduated in 2015. Coming from a graphic design background has been very beneficial, although I used to curse the fact I had ended up a designer and not an illustrator. However, it makes you understand the principles of typography, layout, page design, composition, colour and the page turn. Designing for magazine layouts and covers, and the principles of illustration layouts and covers are basically the same. So I would say that working as a graphic designer for the last 20 years has informed and benefited my illustration career.

kids magazine subscriptions, storytime, owl and the pussycat, lisa sheehan

Lisa’s stunning interpretation of The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

2. Are there any other creative disciplines you’d like to try?

Over the years I’ve tried my hand at quite a few things – creating 3D wool cushions, bespoke fabric printing, clay figures and models – but I’d love to try pottery and traditional auto-lithography. I also work in 3D digitally at which I love. Working in 3D makes me more spatially aware in my 2D work. I think dabbling in many different disciplines can really enrich each of them. Plus, it gives you a break, and time to think about other new project ideas.

3. Is there any work you’ve done that makes you particularly proud?

I am really pleased with a new book I illustrated called Lionel and the Lion’s Share coming out on 11th January 2018 and published by Nosy Crow. It was a great project and a it’s lovely story that truly reflects children’s behaviour. My two children got involved helping me to design a couple of hats for the book. It was a joy to work with the Nosy Crow team and I feel we created a super book. I feel my style came together during this project and I learnt a lot about picture book making and perfected my illustration process.

Storytime magazine, magazine subscriptions for kids,  Illustrator Interview: Lisa Sheehan

A gorgeous spread from Lionel and the Lion’s Share, illustrated by Lisa and published by Nosy Crow

I am also proud of my first book I illustrated in 2014: The Find it Book written by Margaret Wise Brown and published in the US and Australia by Parragon. I was asked to illustrate this during my final year on the MA and while working full time. I was proud I managed to pull it together very quickly. The images were also shortlisted for the AOI awards. I am proud that I managed to keep sane and finish that and the MA – and my children still knew who I was!

kids magazine subscriptions, Storytime magazine, Lisa Sheehan

Lisa’s magical illustrations for The Find It Book, by Margaret Wise Brown

4. Do you have any top tips for creatives who might be juggling full-time jobs or family with illustration work?

That’s a hard question, if you really want to illustrate, then you will find a way. I now work three days a week as a designer and the rest of the time is spent illustrating, which is a good balance. On the MA, I took one day a week as holiday to attend the course. I illustrated from 8pm to 3am and at weekends, so you have to be prepared to work hard, keep focused and don’t ever think “this is too much, why am I doing this?” I also never looked at the bigger picture – it’s quite daunting to think you have to write essays and a dissertation and produce final projects. If I had sat down and thought about it, I would never have done it. So just live in the moment and create what you can when you can. I think I trained myself to have little sleep and I loved working during the night when all was quite and I could concentrate. I watched a lot of zombie series and movies, which strangely kept me going! Now I can only illustrate at night while watching or listening to box series on Netflix. You also need a very supportive family, as it does consume so much of your time. As for staying on deadline, I am used to deadlines in my graphic design job, but it’s good to print off a schedule, break projects down into sections and allocate days and times when you can work on it. It’s also satisfying to tick off the jobs you have done. Be organised and manage your time efficiently. The other things that got me through the juggling process were pure determination and lots of caffeine!

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids,Storytime, Illustrator Interview: Lisa Sheehan

No zombies here from Lisa, but an adorable tiger!

5. Do you have any favourite artists or illustrators who have influenced your work and why

I was introduced to the lovely illustrations of 1940s auto-lithography Puffin picturebooks during my MA. This influenced me greatly and I have quite a collection of these vintage books, I love the process of printing in this way. I try to create an element of it in my artwork. One of my favourite illustrators from that time is Kathleen Hale, author and illustrator of the series Orlando the Marmalade Cat . Another inspiration is the work of Edward Ardizzone and the process of printing and texture in his work. I also love artists Alice Pattulo and Jonny Hannah – especially their texture and retro 50s style.

Lisa Sheehan, Storytime Magazine, Illustrator Interview, The Secret Garden, kids magazine subscriptions

An exquisite cover for The Secret Garden by Lisa

6. What has been your most enjoyable illustration challenge to date?

I enjoyed creating a cover for the The Secret Garden. I love to doodle foliage and flowers and I find it very therapeutic. Most of my work is created in sections and layered together. With this cover I produced the whole thing in pencil in one go, which I never do! It was a joy to spend a few hours doodling away and to have hardly any digital input.

7. What would be your dream story, book or poem to illustrate and why?

I would love to illustrate The Jungle Book purely for the jungle plants and scenery. The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland are good ones too. I love stories that are dreamlike and full of fantasy.

8. We collaborated with you on The Velveteen Rabbit and now Mr Nobody in our latest Storytime issue. What’s your process? How do you develop such beautifully rich worlds and characters?

Velveteen Rabbit, Lisa Sheehan, Storytime, magazine subscriptions for kids, Christmas gift ideas for kids

It’s impossible to look at this illustration by Lisa without feeling your heart melt

I absolutely loved creating the images for The Velveteen Rabbit. This was one of my first projects after graduating. My process involves working in traditional media – charcoal, watercolour, gouache, 5B pencil – anything in black that has a nice texture. Working in black and white means I can concentrate on the textures and layers without getting hung up on what colours I should use. This used to stop me in my tracks and I’d do nothing. Working this way allows me to get straight in and create artwork. I then colour digitally, experimenting with different colours until I find the right palette. I could potentially create the same look working solely digitally with brushes in photoshop, but I am determined to retain my use of traditional media for as long as I can. It takes longer and uses up a lot of paper, but I prefer the effect and it often creates happy accidents that I wouldn’t get if I went totally digital. I am a bit of a tweaker and using traditional media on paper stops me tweaking the final result quite so much. I sometimes think having the ability to constantly digitally tweak and use the undo button is a killer of the creative process.

9. Is there any advice you can give to aspiring illustrators?

Attending an illustration course is always a good start. It gives you the opportunity to experiment. Look at other illustrators’ work that inspires you, go to bookshops and look at recent books and get a sense of what you would like to do. Keep sketchbooks, experiment with different materials and draw from life. People often think they have to draw exactly what they see in front of them and get bogged down in detail. I did, but I learnt to keep an open mind. You need to use your imagination to create your own visual language.



You can see more of Lisa’s incredible and distinctive work on her website, and catch glimpses of her latest work over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We hope this has inspired you and, if you enjoyed this interview, why not read our illustrator interviews with Tim Budgen and Luke Flowers too?


Hope Mr Nobody doesn’t strike in your house this week!

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)