Storytime Issue 41 Is Here!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.)

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Writer Interview: Dom Conlon

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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


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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!

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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.


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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!


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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?

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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.)

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.)

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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

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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


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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.)

Storytime Issue 38 is Out Now!

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There’s something really special about our autumn issues and Storytime Issue 38 is no exception. The nights drawing in, the temperatures dropping – they both add up to one wonderful thing: snuggling up and reading stories together. At this time of year, Storytime magazine really comes into its own.

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Our stunning Firebird by Anne-Marie Hugot

But we know that most people don’t have a cosy, crackling fire to snuggle up by, so in Storytime Issue 38, we’ve brought you fire in the form of the famous Russian fairy tale, The Firebird, which is illustrated by one of our favourite illustrators, Anne-Marie Hugot. This fairy tale has it all: a mythical creature, a talking horse, a courageous archer, a clever princess, a wicked tsar and lots of magical moments. A fiery, fantastic fairy tale to warm your heart.

For our fable, we’ve updated Aesop’s The Boy and the Filberts and put a fun, modern spin on it in The Sweetie Jar. Lu Green provides our cute and colourful illustrations.

Alphabet Zoo returns and, this time, Bonnie and Boo want you to meet animals beginning with the letter M: macaws, mara, marmosets and, of course, very funny meerkats! Tim Budgen‘s illustrations are as wonderful as ever, and don’t forget to download our free Alphabet Zoo Activity Pack with Poster!

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A wonderfully witchy tale from Polly Owen, illustrated by Kathryn Durst

As it’s October, we had to sneak in a Halloween story and Three Little Witches by Polly Owen, featuring a troll, a giant and a goblin, is sure to entertain you. Polly hasn’t been feeling well lately and we hope that seeing her story in print will help speed up her recovery. Spooky illustrations are by Kathryn Durst.

Still on a Halloween theme, we’ve got a special Mexican myth, which explains the origins of the Day of the Dead flower in a surprisingly sweet story, The Flower and the Hummingbird. Bright and cheerful illustrations are by Barbara Brun.

Our fabulous folktale in Storyteller’s Corner is hundreds of years old. King of the Cats has a great twist in its feline tail and is illustrated in a gorgeous retro style by Maria Laura Brenlla.

It’s been a while since people’s hero Robin Hood featured in our magazine, so in Storytime Issue 38 we tell the tale of the day Robin Hood and Friar Tuck met each other. It ends with a splash! We were delighted to work with illustrator John Joven again on this.

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Find out how Friar Tuck joined Robin Hood’s Merry Men. Illustrated by John Joven

Finally, we’ve got the classic poem Mr Nobody by Elizabeth Prentiss. You might remember this from your own childhood. Kids love this poem as it provides the perfect excuse for all the mess and chaos they often leave in their wake! The gorgeous illustration for this poem come courtesy of Lisa Sheehan. Make sure you drop by again next week, as Lisa will be answering questions for our regular Illustrator Interview.

We work hard every month to find the perfect mix of stories for you, and we hope we’ve got Storytime Issue 38 just right. Let us know your favourite stories or anything you’d like to see more of on our social media channels. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!


Keep snuggling and keep reading! See you next time,


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Illustrator Discount

storytime magazine subscriptions, kids magazines subscriptions, storytime illustrator discount, One of our favourite things about creating Storytime is getting to work with so many incredibly talented children’s illustrators from all over the world. Every month, we’re able to dive into the portfolios of many and varied children’s illustration styles looking for the right fit for each upcoming story. It is a privilege and a pleasure – and the collaboration process to date has been a joy too. We know… we might just have the best jobs in the world.

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The varied illustration styles typical of Storytime magazine

We love working with illustrators so much, to say thanks to the children’s illustration world at large, we’ve set up a special and permanent code so that any illustrators who wish to subscribe to Storytime magazine can get a 10% discount off the usual full price. It’s a great opportunity to see what Storytime is all about, admire the work of your contemporaries and see what’s happening in the illustration world.

If you’d like to subscribe, all you have to do is click on this link and the discount will be applied automatically!

Do pass it on to the rest of the children’s illustration community and, if you’re looking for more inspiration, we have in-depth interviews with two incredible illustrators who we’ve had the pleasure to work with since launching Storytime.

Tim Budgen illustrates our monthly poem, Alphabet Zoo with his trademark good humour, and Luke Flowers is the creative mind behind several of our favourite story illustrations, including the crazy Triantiwontigongolope, which appears in Storytime Issue 37. Both interviews are packed with top tips and interesting insights, so don’t miss them.

If you’re interested in submitting your portfolio to Storytime, you can find out more here.

We hope you take advantage of our Storytime illustrator discount and also hope our magazine gives you lots of creative inspiration!


Happy doodling from the Storytime team,


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Foxy Fairy Tales!

magazine subscriptions for kids, foxy fairytales, fox stories, fictional foxes, best bedtime stories, kids magazine subscriptionsIt’s well established that wolves got a bum deal in the fairy-tale world (we’re looking at you, Big Bad Wolf), but if there’s one stereotyped anthropomorphic animal I always feel a little sorry for it’s the wolf’s close relative, the fox.

Cunning, sly, wily, sometimes cruel, sometimes charming (but ultimately to satisfy its own needs), the fox hasn’t got much love in the world of stories. Even Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox is a trickster but, admittedly, one whom we all root for.

We’ve featured many fox stories in Storytime and we have The Sly Fox as the star of our latest cover (with illustrations by the brilliant Louis D Wiyono). In this classic fairy tale, the fox becomes obsessed by the thought of the tasty little chicken who keeps outwitting him, so he sets out to catch her and eat her once and for all. There are variants of this story all over the world.

What we particularly love about it is the energetic manner in which the fox catches the chicken (high-speed tail whirling no less) and the smart way in which the hen gets her revenge – always carry scissors, thread and a needle, folks!

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The Sly Fox puts his victim in a spin in Storytime Issue 37’s Favourite Fairy Tale, with art by Louis D Wiyono

It’s likely that the wily fox figure so dominant in Western children’s literature has its roots not just in the fables of Aesop, but another foxy trickster called Reynard who first appeared in the Middle Ages, and starred in stories in France, Holland, Germany and England. Further east, there are numerous fox tricksters, including Kuma Lisa in Russia and Bulgaria and the wonderful Kitsune fox spirits of Japan.

We thought it would be fun have a look at some of our favourite foxy fairy tales and fables to see just how many similarities there are. Schools or teachers who are looking at fox stories should find this round-up interesting (and subscribing schools can download our free Sly Fox resource pack – find out more here.)

Fabulous Foxy Fairy Tales


1. Greedy Foxes

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A gorgeous Greedy Fox from Storytime Issue 15, illustrated by Axelle Vanhoof

Like foxes in real life, scavenging for survival, the greedy or hungry fox features heavily in the literary world. Perhaps the first greedy fox that most children meet is the one who finishes off that edible rebel, The Gingerbread Man, who featured in Storytime Issue 2. Having charmed the little fellow into crossing the river on his back, the fox proceeds to scoff him bit by soggy bit. Another fantastic charmer appears in the fable The Fox and the Crow in Storytime Issue 5. This time, he flatters an attention-starved crow into dropping a tasty morsel of cheese. Finally, in our Storytime Issue 15 fable, The Greedy Fox, a fox’s eyes are bigger than its belly. This fox pays for its greed, but lives to feast another day.


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A cunning fox for The Fox and the Goat fable in Storytime Issue 30. Art by Bruno Nunes.

2. Sly Foxes
As well as The Sly Fox in our latest edition of Storytime, there’s also the opportunistic fox that appears at the end of Henny Penny in Storytime Issue 19. (This story is also known as Chicken Licken and Chicken Little.) The fox craftily lures Henny and her trail of feathered friends into its den, promising that it’s a shortcut to the Queen’s house! In many versions of the story, fox and family gobble most of them up. In our version, he wasn’t successful and the bird brains get away. The fox in our Storytime Issue 30 fable, The Goat and the Fox, is another cunning creature, tricking an unwitting goat into jumping down a well with him, so he can use the goat as a means of escape.


3. Outfoxed Foxes

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The Fox gets outwitted by a cat in Storytime Issue 25. Illustrations by Francesco Zito.

Brer Fox traditionally plays the antagonist in the Brer Rabbit stories and, though he tries to be smart, he invariably gets outwitted by the cantankerous bunny. He certainly does in our Storytime Issue 19 story, when Brer Rabbit decimates his vegetable garden. In Storytime Issue 25, our fable The Fox and the Cat also demonstrates that foxes don’t always win. On this occasion, the fox who boasts about his intelligence is made to look a fool by a cat. And in another fable, The Fox and the Grapes (which we’ve yet to feature), after much effort, a fox is forced to give up on a tasty snack of grapes, claiming that he didn’t want them anyway. Cognitive dissonance replaces cunning.


Okay, so that’s a lot of sly or greedy foxes. A skulk you could say (probably my favourite of the collective nouns for foxes). We tried to redress the balance a bit with the gorgeous fairy tale The Fantastic Fox in Storytime Issue 23, in which the fox is actually the wise sidekick and facilitator of the main protagonist’s success, but it’s probably about time we included a story where the fox character fits none of the usual stereotypes, isn’t it? We’ll see what we can do about that.

What are your favourite foxes in literature? Picture books and novels too? Let us know via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We always love to hear from you.


Wishing you a wily week!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Illustrator Interview: Luke Flowers

Illustrator Interview: Luke Flowers, storytime, magazines for kids, kids magazine, magazine subscriptions for kids, gift subscriptions for kids, gift ideas for kids, christmas gifts for kids Storytime Issue 37 has been out for a week now and we’re still celebrating – it’s our 3rd Anniversary Issue, after all! If that’s not an excuse for cake and party poppers, we’re not sure what is…

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Luke Flowers – our first port of call for brining the Trianti to life!

Plus, we’ve already had loads of fantastic entries for our Children’s Art Competition! (Have your creative kiddos entered yet? All they have to do is draw their own imaginary creature. Find out more here!)

When we were planning the competition, we decided to make it inspired by the weird creature in the wacky poem The Triantiwontigongolope by CJ Dennis. For the art, US-based illustrator Luke Flowers was the first person who sprang to mind.

We’ve collaborated with Luke on a couple of stories already (The Wind and the Sun in Storytime Issue 12 and Henny Penny in Storytime Issue 19) and he always brings something super-special to his work.

In fact, everything Luke turns his hand to is bursting with life, energy, careful thought, gorgeous detail, vibrant colour and a healthy measure of off-the-wall craziness. Luke was the perfect fit for The Triantiwontigongolope, so we were over the moon when he came on board.

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Download our Awesome Art Pack and enter our competition today!

Even more so when he agreed to not only judge our art competition (kids, Luke Flowers will see your work!), but to put together a fantastic step-by-step guide to creating a Triantiwontigongolope in his style.

It’s part of our Awesome Art Pack, which is full of top tips and fun exercises for kids who love art and illustration – and it includes our competition entry form. Make sure you download it here!

As Luke is such an integral (and welcome) part of our 3rd Anniversary Issue, we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate his work and find out what wild magic he’s using to make him so very good at what he does…

We think you’ll be inspired!


Illustrator Interview: 12 Questions with Luke Flowers


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Awesome illustrator and Storytime art competition judge, Luke Flowers

1. We know you’ve always been arty, but what drew you to illustrating for kids? How did you get started?

I’ve always been drawn to whimsical, playful stories. The first book I can remember loving was The Monster at the End of This Book (a Little Golden Book with Grover) and being so intrigued by the way a story kept you wondering what would happen next with each page you turned. I remember in 2nd grade really wishing I could illustrate books because I loved how the words and images worked together to pull you into the story.

I first got started in illustrating for kids when I started doing editorial illustrations for several kids’ magazines back in 2010, but I didn’t actually start illustrating children’s books until 2013. So it was a long journey to finally get to be able to do what I’ve dreamt of since I was a 2nd grader.


2. Do you have any favourite creatives who have influenced your work?

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A selection of Luke’s amazing creative work

Shel Silverstein, Jim Henson, Walt Disney and Roald Dahl were HUGE influences growing up (and still are today), because I loved the way they brought a message of hope in the midst of the wacky worlds they crafted. Whether it was through a poem, story, film, or a television show. I wanted to be part of inspiring kids to see the fun and joy of the world through a variety of creative expressions. Jim Henson was probably the biggest influence because I was so inspired by the way he used so many forms of art to tell his stories and he truly seemed to live out what he was telling in his stories. His message of dreaming big and following those dreams and loving others on that adventure has always stuck with me on my own creative journey.


3. How do you keep the mojo going when you’re busy? Do you have any top tips for creatives who are juggling full-time work with illustration jobs?

Having a list of dream personal projects or types of work I want to pursue always helps me stay motivated knowing that there is some new avenue of creativity to explore and expand into. That list is longer than my life may ever allow for, but it’s always inspiring to reach those milestones and see how new doors are opened along the way.

I find so much of my daily inspiration by connecting with fellow creatives, whether through social media, email or phone conversations. Because I work alone in my creative cave, I feel like this allows me to have ‘co-workers’ because we all are striving for the same goals and facing the same challenges, so we cheer one another on.

Music is also one of the main ways I keep myself focused and inspired. I collect all kinds of film soundtracks that I go through to set the mood for a certain type of work. I really love Synthwave bands, and found sound type bands (The Books, Pogo, Wax Tailor) to set a mood of creativity for the day. I also really enjoy listening to audio books, mainly biographies. The Jim Henson Biography (by Brian Jay Jones) is constantly on repeat.

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Luke’s work for Storytime’s fairy tale, Henny Penny (Issue 19) left our readers grinning from ear to ear

4. What has been your biggest illustration challenge to date?

Illustrating over 36 children’s books in just under four years has been a marathon of creativity that has gone far beyond all my expectations. I’m so grateful for each opportunity to work with such a wide range of talented creatives and publishers that have inspired me each step of the way. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and fellow creative friends cheering me on and inspiring me with their work too.


5. What would be your favourite fairy tale to illustrate?

I have always loved Alice in Wonderland because it is so full of wildly imaginative characters and there are so many wonderful interpretations of that story. I’d love to give my own twist to it. Though one of my all time favorite stories is The Musicians of Bremen (Brothers Grimm) because, growing up on a farm, I always imagined the animals having adventures like that. One of my all-time favourite illustrators J.P. Miller did what I believe is the best take on that tale, so I’d have big shoes to fill if I ever took a stab at illustrating it myself.


6. We’ve been so lucky to work with you on several stories now, including The Triantiwontigongolope. How do you create such vibrant characters?

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A glorious illustration by Luke for Storytime Issue 12’s Wind and the Sun fable

I’ve been SO LUCKY to have the opportunity to work with you all, and bring such fun stories to life. So thank you for those creative adventures to share with the readers.

I always start with research, looking through my library of new and old children’s books just to get the creative wheels spinning. This is also a great way to start thinking about the colors that will fit the story and characters of the assigment. Then I go right to sketching out various ways of crafting the characters with shape exploration and details like wardrobe or props. I do colour explorations and, because I work fully digital, I can quickly change up the colours to see what works best. From there it is just diving fully into the illustration with shapes, adding texture with brushes, and then lighting the scene and adding the final details.


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The second book in Luke’s Moby Shinobi brilliant series for Scholastic.

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

Creating my first author/illustrator book series with Scholastic. I remember absolutely treasuring that stack of books, which would arrive each month when I was able to order them as a kid. So to have the opportunity to not only illustrate a book for Scholastic but a series has been a lifelong dream come true for me.

The book series is called Moby Shinobi, about a helpful ninja kid who visits various job sites to offer his helpful ninja skills. He realises (after making several mistakes) that ninja skills don’t always fit every job. But in the end an emergency occurs that truly requires a certain ninja skill and he is able to help out in his own unique way.

Ninja on the Farm was the debut book, and has sold over 150,000 copies since its release in December 2016. Ninja in the Kitchen (book 2) was just released in July and Ninja in the Pet Shop comes out in December 2017. We have two more books scheduled for this series, and hopefully many more! You can read the full story of how this series started and came together on my blog here.

(Buy these titles direct from Scholastic or download Kindle editions from Amazon UK ~ Ed.)


8. Is there any work you’re particularly proud of that you’d like to point to?

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Luke’s Labyrinth A to Z, which now hangs proudly in the Jim Henson Company offices!

Other than the Moby Shinobi book series, I’m also proud of the personal work I get to do for gallery shows each year. Gallery shows are a fun way to explore my own personal work style, while paying tribute to some of my favorite films, shows and book characters.

I do one or two gallery shows each month with several galleries in Los Angeles. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with several studios and companies through them, like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and, best of all, The Jim Henson Company!

I created an alphabet poster to pay tribute to Jim Henson’s Labyrinth on its 30th anniversary, and that piece was a big hit, which connected me with the team at Boom! Comics, who were putting together a book of tribute art. That opportunity also led me to connect with Lisa Henson (Jim Henson’s daughter, and CEO of the Jim Henson Co.), and now a print of that piece hangs at the studio!


9. What’s your preferred creative medium and why?

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More dynamic Moby Shinobi scribblings from Luke!

I prefer digital for several reasons. I love the variety of brushes you can quickly explore and implement, and the unique challenge of trying to create work that the viewer can’t figure out if it’s traditional or digital. I also love the way it allows for a more streamlined process with clients – making changes and giving them a variety of digital assets to use for promotion and publication. And, of course, the undo key is quite nice for a fella who makes a lot of mistakes in the creative process!


10. If you could work in any location in the world, where would it be?

I’d love to work with a studio in California on a film or show at some point. Working for the Jim Henson Company or Walt Disney Animation Studio has been a lifelong dream so if that ever happened that would be a big milestone. I really enjoy visiting New York and all the incredible publishers and fellow creatives there. Every time I visit I feel deeply inspired and would love to spend a whole month just working there and visiting with fellow creative friends.

Of course I’d LOVE to visit London so I could come visit the Storytime team. I’ve dreamt of spending a whole season there, just creating and soaking in the inspiration of all the history of great art that has and is being created there!

(You are welcome at the Storytime Studio any time, Luke! ~ Ed.)


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

I’ve recently started working on a Little Golden Book series with Nickelodeon for their television show, Rusty Rivets. I’ve always wanted to work with Little Golden Books, but I would also like to work with other properties like Walt Disney or Jim Henson Co. doing Little Golden Book variations of their stories.

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Luke’s series of Rusty Rivets titles for Little Golden Books

I also want to do more puppeteering work. I recently had the opportunity to work on a pitch video for a show with my friend Joey Ellis. Joey created a world called Leaky Timbers, about a little monster named Wolfie, and his crazy adventures. I played the part of Roy, Wolfie’s older brother. It was such a great experience to learn from Joey about puppeteering and help him bring that world to life. You can see the video and more of the story here. I hope we can do more with that in the future.

One of my main goals for the next few years is to create more of my own author/illustrator children’s book. I’m working on developing and pitching those in 2018. I have several stories I’m really excited about and one that I may even develop into a graphic novel or television show pitch.

The one I’m most excited about though is a chapter book series that my daughter, Lydia (11 years old) and I are writing together. We hope to pitch that book series sometime in the next year and I would be so thrilled to be able to pursue that dream with her more in the years ahead.


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Full of life and colour – a classic Luke Flowers illustration

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

I always say you should reach out to someone who is five miles down the road you want to travel, but be sure you are always reaching back to help someone who is five miles behind you on that same road.

Basically be connecting with someone who is doing what you want to do and inspiring you through their work, but be sure you are sharing your work and helping to inspire someone who may be on that same path and looking for some guidance, encouragement and inspiration.

I would not have been able to reach any of the milestones on my creative journey had I not had friends helping me along the way and sharing their experience, encouragement and work that inspired me.


Well, that’s an utterly lovely note to end on and what a great motto for life!

Luke’s words have really inspired our creative process and we’re sure you feel the same. You can follow Luke on both Twitter and Instagram for more inspiration and good vibes. Remember, if you have creative kiddos, don’t miss the chance to enter our Art Competition – they could see their work in print in Storytime!


Stay inspired and keep reading stories!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)