Illustrator Interview with Julia Cherednichenko

 

Illustrator Interview with Julia Cherednichenko

 

This month, we are thrilled to have the chance to sit down and chat to the amazing Ukrainian artist Julia Cherednichenko. She did the wonderful illustrations for The Curly-Tailed Lion in Storytime 93, and we are keen to find out more about her work!

 

1. When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

 

Looking back now, I can see that an extraordinary combination of circumstances brought me to this point. I still feel as if there was some magic involved, or that the universe intended things to work out this way. I’ll try to explain!

I have doing art all my life, but it was just a hobby. When I was 8 or 9 years old, my parents enrolled me in art school, but I left a year later because of health reasons. My formal training as an artist ended. But when you have a passion, some things become inevitable. All my life, my passion was creating things with my hands. I drew, sculpted, embroidered, sewed, and took photos – but those were just hobbies that were good for my soul.

Sometimes, other people told me that I have a talent for art and craft. “You should be an artist,” they said. However, what does it mean to be an artist? To just have talent is not enough!

You need to immerse yourself in the profession. That is how you get knowledge, experience and good mentors. You should have your own motivation to improve your professional skills – and just as important, there should be a pleasant atmosphere around you.

In the society where I grew up and studied, becoming a professional artist was quite difficult, so many budding artists choose other careers. That’s what happened to me.

First, I became an international economist, and then I worked as a manager for 3 years. Everything seemed okay, but I felt that I was not in the right place, and that I was living somebody else’s life, not mine. The first war in the eastern part of Ukraine in 2014 changed everything for me.

I had to move to another part of my country. It was a difficult but very important time for me. During this long ‘trip’ I realized a lot of things. One was that I didn’t want to be a manager or economist anymore. I needed to change something, take control of my life, and choose what I wanted to do. Most of all, I dreamed of changing the world. To make it better, to have make an impact on it, to bring beauty. At that time, I didn’t have any idea about how to do this. I just wanted to find out how to move forward. The answer soon arrived!

One night 7 years ago, I had a dream. It was very beautiful and so realistic. It gave me all the answers I needed. My subconscious told me that I should draw children’s books, that I am an artist, and that I shouldn’t forget this. If I wanted to change something, I should do it right now. The next morning, I got up and I knew who I was. That dream changed everything in my life.

At 25, I made a conscious choice to become an artist and draw children’s books, and to improve my skills in illustration and design. Creating art is my way to be heard, to have a chance to make this world a little better.

2. How did you develop your artistic skills and make a career out of art?

 

Just two words – learning and practice. Every day, I learn something new. I try to discover things that help me to develop in all ways. For example, every morning I read a useful book and watch an instructional video. I have attended a lot of masterclasses and online courses in illustration, design, writing, and even the art of planning. This helps me to develop myself and my skills every day.

As far as professional skills go – for me, the basic step was education. As I said, I had decided to become an artist in a very dark time. I knew that I wanted to start doing graphic design. I didn’t know anything in this field – I had some knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator software, but that wasn’t enough. There was so much more to learn. I think that when you choose art as a profession, you should be ready to study for your whole life.

At that time, my main questions were: “How do I avoid getting lost?”, “How do I make sure I don’t miss important information?” and “How do I make the right choices in my design studies?” It was too much for me at first.

I understood that one day I want to be a very good professional. Therefore, I had to learn from professionals and complete a good education programme that would help me to improve my skills, become competitive, and develop as a creator. I found all these things during my education as a graphic designer.

I had the chance to learn so many things that I wouldn’t have discovered on my own. I wouldn’t have known about lots of important techniques. When you have a general understanding of what a field includes, you can improve yourself in any direction. This is how I got into illustration.

3. Who are your favourite artists? Also, are there other people who have inspired you?

 

Oh, that’s a very hard question! There are so many artists with so many beautiful works that it can be difficult to decide which ones I like best. I love many different illustrators and designers. I’ll list some of them: Carson Elis, Rebecca Green, Julia Sarda, Rebecca Dautremer, Giulia Pintus, Jean Jullien, Anton Van Hertbrugge and many more. I also have to mention Utagawa Kunisada and my favourite, Picasso. This list could be longer! I am also inspired by fiction and nonfiction literature, adventure movies, anything that can capture my eyes or heart. It can be a book, an artwork, a movie, a ballet, an opera, or a theatre performance. I’m especially inspired by the passion of creators.

 

4. What media and techniques do you use to create your art? Are there any that you would like to experiment with?

 

Most of my drawings are created using either mixed or digital techniques on my iPad and laptop. I can’t say that I work only in Procreate, for example, or in Photoshop. I’m an illustrator and designer – so I use many programs, such as Procreate and Designer on the iPad and Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and many more on the laptop for creating illustrations and layouts for books, packaging or products. Besides using digital stuff, I work with traditional techniques – pencils, markers, ink, gouache, acrylic and stamps. I like to mix textures and elements created using traditional techniques with digital illustration. It is interesting to experiment with different means of expression in projects.

Before starting the illustration/book/packaging, I need to understand what style and technique will work best and what new and unexpected possibilities I’ll have by changing the means of creation.

I feel that I have to experiment more with traditional techniques. For example, to work more with hand-drawing and sketching and mixing traditional materials and digital art in one picture. Such experiments can give more freedom, but it also take more time and don’t always work for a project.

5. What are your favourite subjects to draw? (We have noticed that you are particularly good at doing animals, which made you a natural choice for doing our recent story about a celebrity lion!)

 

Oh, thank you very much! It doesn’t really matter to me whether I draw people or animals or nature. The main thing is the idea, soul and hidden meaning of the illustration. In every picture and every character, I try to put a little part of my vision and feelings, something from my experiences, memories, or situations that will evoke emotions in people. It doesn’t matter to me who the character is. I’ll do my best to ‘believe in’ every figure. When you can look at the picture and understand what the character feels, or catch the thought – “Oh, it’s true, it’s about me, it’s me!”

In general, maybe yes, I draw animals more often. I like to observe animals – they are funny, cute and unpredictable. I can imagine any amusing situation with them. Moreover, I have a dog and a cat at home, and I often make sketches and illustrations about their relationship. Sometimes they are so weird! I just have to show this in my pictures. In one sentence, it is never boring with them.

Nevertheless, please don’t think that I only draw animals! I have many illustrations of people, especially children. For example, I have been creating a book for the last 6 months in which there are more than 100 characters, both children and adults. It is a work in progress now, so I don’t know the exact number. Anyway, I hope it will appeal to children all over the world when it comes out!

6. We recently had a chance to read a wonderful book that you wrote and illustrated! What inspired you to create Grandpa is Five Again?

 

I’ll describe to you my thoughts and feelings at that time. Before I started work on this book, I decided to find out more about the process of writing and storytelling. My work is connected with creating books (especially picture books) and pictures for stories, so I have to know not only how to draw, but also how to write text and build a world for the story – how to create it using words as well as illustrations. I thought this knowledge would help me in the illustration process. I wanted to know more, to be better as a professional, and to improve myself. To skip ahead, yes, it did work for me!

I discovered that the process of storytelling is exciting for me, and I came up with so many ideas. Moreover, I wanted to create them with words and pictures. It could be my way to help somebody, to change something, to make this world slightly better by touching the feeling and thoughts of other people, children and adults alike.

Grandpa is Five Again is such a book. It is a picture book about a small boy who has lost his best friend forever. It is difficult but important to talk about death, and I tried to approach it in a fresh way. I talk about how a small child deals with this situation, the sadness and loneliness, using play and imagination. How can this help them to process memories, friendship and love as well as sorrow? I try to explain things from the point of view of a child, in a light and funny way.

I chose this topic because I feel that people often avoid talking about death. I can understand why. It is very hard for adults to deal with emotions that come from it. We get into the habit of protecting ourselves from sad emotions and avoiding difficult topics, and we want to protect children in such a way, too. In lots of families this topic isn’t discussed, because nobody knows what to say.

We need to talk with children about it. We should show them that these emotions are normal, and that death is a part of life. We shouldn’t be scared, because we can’t lose somebody who is in our heart.

I have tried to write a very kind and honest story, full of love, and to create honest illustrations for it. I chose to use traditional techniques (gouache and ink), with a limited color palette for the same reason. It is the most honest way to portray this topic.

I found this idea so important to share with children and adults all over the world – especially now, in hard times, when so many people have lost their homes and families in our country. I am hoping to find the publisher for this book.

 

7. What projects would you like to work on in the future? Do you have any lined up that you would like to tell us about?

 

It is a little hard to talk about future plans, but I will try. I am concentrating my attention on two fields: children’s illustration for books and magazines, and packaging designs for brands. Both fields inspire me very much and I have many ideas to offer. So I’d like to find companies and publishers that share my views and aspirations. At the beginning of this year, I had thoughts about organising my own exhibition, but I didn’t manage to begin this process before the war in Ukraine started. I hope I’ll have a better chance in the future, maybe this year or next year.
To talk about my current job. I have two big projects that should be finished soon. One project is a children’s book for a private client. I will have it finished before June if the situation in Ukraine is okay. I’m working on the second project now with a lovely Ukrainian clothing brand. I have three projects that I have been working on for the past four months, but two of them have been delayed because of the situation in Ukraine. One project, with a product and packaging design about Ukraine, will come out soon in May.

This year, I want to find an illustration agency that can represent me in other countries. Of course, I hope to continue working with your magazine. I hope to work more with international publishers and brands, and to find a publisher for my book, Grandpa Is Five Again. I want to continue writing and creating my projects. I feel inspired by this field, and hopefully you will have a chance to see the results soon!

8. What can you tell us about your creative process? How do you find inspiration and plan your work?

 

It depends on the project. Sometimes it is easy to find an idea, and sometimes I need to spend a lot of time searching, looking for something, even though I don’t know what it is. This process may be familiar to many other creators! When I have a project, I need to find the best concept for its realization.

When I begin, I make a small plan of the project. I write down and draw out roughly what is going to be in each section. During this process, I search for information concerning the project. It can be anything – books, pictures, articles, photos, all of these can help me to figure out the concept. I just put little pencil marks where I think things have to be, because I realize that I can forget about something. I need to see all the details, thoughts and ideas and capture the whole picture of the illustration for the book or packaging.

I create a big mood board and brainstorm for each project. Most of all, I try to find many photos of the people or things that I need to draw. There can be pictures with lovely colors, clothes, patterns or details that I can use to help me create. If I need historical information, I look it up in articles, books etc.

I am inspired by the world around me. My main goal is to be attentive. I don’t close my eyes. Even if I don’t have a project in progress, I still need to observe everything around me (people, situations, nature, things). On the other hand, I am inspired by movies, books, and art of all kinds – especially from different nations, the ancient world, and epochs from medieval to modern times. Different styles of painting, architecture, clothes, and design are very inspiring.

After this, when I have my mood board and concept ready, I start my creative process. I try to work for no more than 6 hours every day (not including weekends) because I believe the best results are achieved when I’m well rested and full of energy. It is very important for me to have a good work/life balance. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way – but I do my best!

 

9. Like everyone else, we are looking on with shock at what is happening in your home country. Do you find that being creative helps in some small way to deal with such tragic events?

 

Yes, in some way. Art has already saved and changed my life. Nowadays, it helps me very much as well. At first, you are shocked and you can’t do anything. Then you have a choice about what information you want to concentrate your attention on. Art is a very personal thing. Every person can express their emotions without words, just using visual symbols, and it helps to unravel your thoughts and keep conscious in any unexpected and unpredictable situation. It can be very helpful to make a daily routine. My daily routine is creation. When I don’t have words, I can talk in the language of art. I have a choice about what to think, feel or do. My choice is to continue creating in any situation.

10. Is there a final message you would like to share with our readers? How can we support Ukrainian artists more?

 

Be creative, be brave, be yourself. In any situation. do what you can. Be inspired. Keep finding the way forward for yourself. Do only what you want in your soul. The life is short. Don’t stop improving yourself.

I think nowadays that any support is worth much more than we can imagine. I think that the main mission of the creative world is to inform other artists that they are not alone. I feel that many artists have lost themselves in these hard times. They lost their way, their inspiration, and their job. Most of them don’t know that their art is wanted by people in other countries. There are so many creators who are afraid to enter the international market for various reasons, such as language barriers, a lack of information or a lack of self-confidence.

The best way to support Ukrainian artists is to talk to them. To inform them that their art is still wanted all over the world. That European publishers are open to working with the best Ukrainian illustrators and designers, that you are ready to receive their portfolios. Thinking in such a way, we can find so many ways to give support – through exhibitions, portfolio reviews, organization, and supporting art events for illustrators, designers and all other creators in Ukraine and all over the world.

There isn’t only one right way to help. We can find many solutions to support Ukrainian creators. In any case, the most important step is to continue informing other artists that they are not alone.

 

Storytime Issue 93 Out Now!

 

In good times and in less-good times, we humans need other people. It can be for help and support – or to share joyful events! This month’s Storytime is full of stories about the ways in which we connect with others.

 

Storytime Issue 93 – Things That Bring Us Together

 

Egbert is the star of our modern-day tale, A Troll’s Day Out. As one might expect, he is cranky and grumpy and lives under a bridge like most trolls do. But when he is driven out by his mum’s spring cleaning, he finds his way to the park, and makes some friends! Playing with them changes his mood for the better, and it turns out to be a special day he will never forget. As Egbert discovers, connecting with others can expand our horizons and make us happy.

 

A Troll’s Day Out features the winning picture from our Happiness Is… competition. It was created by the very talented Romeesa Adil (aged 6), from the Arab Unity School in Dubai. Congratulations to Romeesa, and a big thank you to everybody who entered the contest! Andres Hertsens created the fun art for this tale, and his design for Egbert is quirky and cool!

 

Holidays become really special when we get to spend them with friends, and that is the theme of Holidays with Heidi (inspired by the classic novel Heidi by Johanna Spyri). Klara goes to the countryside and the girls go on an alpine adventure. What makes this bedtime story especially lovely are the illustrations by Giorgia Broseghini. She lives near the Alps herself, and her love for the landscape really shines through.

 

Another holiday-centric story is The Mooncake. The Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in that country, and little Hao loves to share it with his granny. She enjoys his company and gives him a tasty mooncake as a treat but his brother has his sight on it. Anastasia Zababashkina uses her incredible skills to create art for this story that is just as sweet and light as a mooncake!

 

But while enjoying a cake by yourself can be nice, it can be even more pleasant to share it with someone. That is the idea behind The First Strawberry, a legend from the Sioux people. The first man and the first woman argue, and the woman leaves their home – but the sun creates berries in her path to try and stop her! When the woman tastes the fruit, she hopes to share it with the one she loves. Why not take a leaf from their book and share a treat with someone you like today too? Alisa Kosareva’s art for this tale is positively luminous – you could swear that you could reach out and taste the strawberries!

 

Welcome to Lazy Town! is a story with a moral about how life is better when we work together. That’s a lesson that the people of Lazy Town must learn the hard way, as they can’t be bothered to pick up their litter or even cut up a tree that falls on the main road. Hanna Harris provided the bright, fun artwork, which shows us how the determined mayor manages to motivate the inhabitants. Great leaders can bring us all together – and be inspiring!

 

A similar theme can be found in the Greek myth of The Contest of the Gods. The snake-tailed hero Cecrops becomes the king of a group of warlike tribes and convinces them to unite and build a mighty city. It is so grand that two gods compete to be its guardian, in fact! Special credit must go to Gabriel San Martin, who brings the mythical age to life with his illustrations.

 

Creativity and wonder are in our real life tale this month! A Head Full of Colours tells the true story of famous artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Though he had talent from a young age, the New York native discovered graffiti by teaming up with schoolfriends and making his own mark on the city. His vibrant murals bridged the gap between fine art and street art and is still inspirational today. To illustrate this story, we chose to work with Leandro Lassmar, whose own wonderful creations are partly inspired by Basquiat. We hope you find them as amazing as we do!

 

And lastly, we have the cover story of The Curly-Tailed Lion. Though it is set hundreds of years ago, this tale of a lion who becomes a celebrity in the Netherlands is still relevant in this age of social media! The lion becomes very popular, but soon finds himself stressed as people make more and more demands of him. It is only when his looks fade and ‘lion-mania’ dies down that he finds happiness with a lioness and friends who love him for who he is. There is a lesson there for all of us – being popular is OK, but it’s no substitute for real friendships!

 

The art for this story is by the phenomenally talented Ukrainian artist Julia Cherednichenko. We will have an exclusive interview with her in this month’s second blog – look out for it! She will give us a great insight into her stories, her inspiration and how art is important to us all in the most difficult times!

 

Happy reading!

 

The Storytime team

The Benefits of Audiobooks for Children

 

Audiobooks for Children

 

Guest blog by author and teacher Alicia Ortego

Common wisdom says that reading is a sign of a well-rounded person – and it is hard to disagree with that. But is it necessary to read books on paper, or are audiobooks a viable alternative?

Nowadays, many people prefer listening to books instead of reading them. Some might claim that this is no substitute for reading text on the page, but researchers have found that listening to books can actually be good for you!

 

The Benefits of Audiobooks

 

They’re great to enjoy while travelling!

Playing an audiobook while on a long journey will help the time pass quickly! It gives the whole family something to listen to together, and can provide a welcome break from playing games on a tablet!

 

They give our eyes a holiday!

Too much reading can be had on our eyes! Reading for too long can cause eye strain, and trying to focus on a book while riding in a car causes car sickness for many people.

 

Listening to audiobooks can reduce stress!

According to this research, 60% of children said that reading reduced feelings of stress. Kids have become more interested in audiobooks in recent times because they provide a way for them to relax and escape into their imaginations.

 

Listening to stories puts us in touch with our emotions!

This University College London Study proves that listening triggers more emotions than watching movies. When listening to a book, we expend energy picturing the plot. We focus more, think about it, and get accustomed to using our imagination instead of our eyes. The more we mentally engage with it, the more compelling the story becomes to us.

After a child has listened to an audiobook, why not discuss how it made them feel? This is a good way to discuss our emotions and develop emotional literacy.

 

Audiobooks help develop listening skills!

This research claims that listening to books increases kids’ vocal skills by teaching them about the importance of pauses, intonation and rhythm. It can also increase vocabulary and sentence-construction skills and teach correct pronunciation of words or names that they might otherwise only see written down. (For example, when listening to Harry Potter, kids get a better idea of how to pronounce names like ‘Hermione’.)

 

Reluctant readers can enjoy audiobooks!

This study in the Journal of Neuroscience indicates that the brain reacts to stories in the same way if it is read or listened to! This means that children with dyslexia or poor eyesight can benefit from and enjoy books in audio format, even if they might find reading them challenging.

 

Tips on choosing an audiobook for your child

 

Children will let you know what they are interested in! If a child is crazy about action and adventure stories, you won’t necessarily be able to make them excited about fairy tales. Be open to exploring subjects that they like!

Discuss the genres your children enjoy and surf the Internet searching for page-turners (audio ones, of course). Make sure they meet these criteria:

  • Good recording quality
  • A clear, pleasant narrator voice
  • Interesting plots
  • Positive themes

By finding audiobooks that your children will engage with, you will help them develop their language and comprehension skills while they explore the magic of stories!

Alicia Ortego is a school teacher and children’s book author, who has worked with children foir more than 20 years. Her books are available on her blog: https://aliciaortego.com/books/

 

Storytime Issue 92 Out Now!

 

Every month, we carefully craft each issue so that it has something for everyone – the usual favourites and a few surprises to keep everyone engaged! We often get asked where our ideas and stories come from… so this month, we’d like to give you a peek into the creative process behind our Easter edition!

 

Storytime Issue 92 – The Making of our Spring Issue

 

Seeing as it’s Easter, we wanted to bring you a seasonal story to match! The German fairy tale The Easter Hare fits the bill perfectly – it’s a sweet story about two siblings who encounter the legendary animal who makes chocolate eggs for kids to find on Easter morning. We found this tale in a collection of stories by a lady called Margaret Arndt, but we put our own twist on it so our readers could enjoy it now! The vintage settings and atmosphere was something we wanted to keep from the original story, and Gülşah Alçın Özek did a wonderful job to the briefing! Her illustrations combine modern vividness with a lovely traditional look – be sure to check them out!

 

We topped up the chocolate eggs, continuing with the Easter theme in our bedtime story. The Little Red Hen’s Surprise! is about farmyard friends getting together to help the title character when she becomes ill. It’s illustrated by one of our very favourite artists, Giorgia Broseghini – who has now illustrated over 40 stories for us so far! We’re sure you will enjoy this one – she made sure to cover it in chocolate too!

 

Still talking about food but this time, rice cakes instead of Easter Eggs! We have wanted to tell the classic British tale of King Alfred and the Cakes for quite a while – and it really fit in with this issue! It combines a historical background with a fun lesson about how we must pay attention to the little things as well as the big things in life! Júnior Caramez was chosen to illustrate it, and he did it brilliantly, bringing out the humour in the tale.

 

Another story that we have been wanting to do for ages is that of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. It’s a true classic – who can forget the ‘Open, sesame!’ line that opens the cave that the thieves kept their loot in? The problem was, in its original form it is really very dark in places, so we had to find our own twist on it and we hope you like it. Ali Baba and his Brother is funnier and more upbeat than the original, and the bright and cheerful art by the talented Pamela Wehrhahne complements it perfectly.

 

We like to travel far away to find stories so we continue all the way to an African fable! The Hippopotamus and the Tortoise is a fable set in a lush African jungle full of interesting animals, and it features distinctive (and gorgeous!) art by Rebecca Bagley. Her animals are sure to make everyone giggle – and there are many details to spot in each one of them! We were so glad to find an artist of her talent for this story!

 

We then went to South America, to find our myth this month! The Creation of the Moon is a traditional Aztec legend about the hero Huachinog-vaneg and his quest to light up the night. Of course, ‘Huachinog-vaneg’ is a bit of a mouthful, so we shortened it to just ‘Hua’ in the magazine so you can read along! In the story, he is assisted by a rabbit, which we thought would be a nice tie in with Easter! Though there are no chocolate eggs in this story … the rabbit is a great friend to Hua and a bit of a superhero in the quest! Rendering art for stories set in a distant culture is a challenge for any illustrator, but Mai Ngo did amazing research and brought this myth to life convincingly.

 

Nikola Tesla is famous as one of the most visionary inventors of the past two centuries, and he was chosen as the subject of this month’s real-life story – adding sparkles and a sense of adventure to the issue! The Electric Boy chronicles Nikola’s childhood, and the inspiration he found both at school and in the world around him. He was a pioneer in the use of electricity as a power source, so it’s no surprise that he still inspires modern inventors, particularly those working in the field of sustainable energy. The wonderful Astrid de Souris took a unique approach to the art for this story – inspired by classic Japanese animation, which is made this story truly special!

 

And finally, we have our cover story: Ka and the Wolf. Our original fiction about life in the Stone Age has been in production for quite some time! The theme of friendship was our choice for My Mind Matters! so we thought it would link well to this tale! Ka is a boy from a nomadic tribe in the Ice Age who must team up with an unlikely ally to survive.

We wanted to give readers a feeling of what life would have been like for our ancestors and did a lot of research to get the details right! We wanted an exceptional artist to bring this era to life, and we are delighted to have Lavanya Naidu in this issue. You may have previously seen her wonderful art in How the First Letter was Written in issue 73. She can do amazing art set in any era though, have a peek at her portfolio to see it for yourself.

 

Once all the stories are grouped together and commissioned, we start to plan all the fun and activities that will go with each issue. The puzzles feature colouring, games and quizzes for each and every story and our Teaching Resource pack this month will look into the Stone Age life in depth. We learn so much with every edition, and by the end of it we are ready for the next one! What will the May issue bring? You will have to stay with us to find out!

 

Happy Easter dear readers! May the Easter Hare be kind and generous with you all!

 

The Storytime team

Why Diversity Matters

 

Here at Storytime, we create stories for our readers – and we want all of our readers to find characters that they can identify with in our stories. That’s why we believe that diversity matters. How boring would the world – or our magazine – be if everybody looked, thought and talked the same?

This month, we are honoured to have the second guest editorial of the year by the immensely talented Nick Abadzis. He is, amongst many other things, an award-winning comics creator and graphic novelist. He is currently writing and drawing a new book entitled Skin Trouble, which will deal with issues around diversity and representation. Nick is very passionate about the importance of representation in stories and we are so happy to be able to share his thoughts on the matter in our blog. We believe his work is striking and very relevant in bringing greater awareness to this hugely important topic. (c) Nick Abadzis 2022

 

Why Diversity Matters: A Guest Editorial?

 

“Diversity” is a word that is often used to describe humanity. We are indeed “diverse,” in that we are many and myriad. Human beings come in innumerable flavours and that, to me, is a fabulous and beautiful thing. It’s our differences, our self-awareness and our ability to co-operate that make human beings the most powerful animal species to ever walk the surface of this planet. Simultaneously, it’s what makes us so dangerous – to all other life that we share this world with, and to ourselves.

Every one of us is unique and as different from one another as is every single snowflake that ever fell out of the sky over our heads. And, like snow collectively, we form a vista that, from a distance, makes it difficult to tell one tiny element apart from another. In that sense, we are certainly more alike than unalike.

On our social, interpersonal, microscopic street level, things can be a little messier. Our societies are intricately structured, imperfect systems whose communications and (social) media generally reduce humankind’s organic complexity to simplistic, often binary terms that ignore or bypass nuance.

Nuance is a perceptual language all its own. Nuance, or the awareness of it, is the kind of emotional intelligence that any healthy society should aspire to teach their kids so that their lives will be as deep, rich and layered as their parents know they are capable of being.

Children are the future, and every good parent wants to equip their offspring with the tools they’ll need to cope with life and an ever faster, ever-changing world. Certainly, no-one wants their child to be seen as less than the set of potentials they present to their parents.

The declaration of human rights states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” However, no matter how sound our foundational philosophies and intentions, however lofty our aspirations, all human societies remain unfair.

For this reason, representation in media – and all forms of human visual language – is of paramount importance.

Human systems nowadays tend to forsake nuance for brevity, difficult-to-digest facts for easily consumable half-truths or indeed, outright falsehoods. Yet life cannot be reduced to the kinds of absolutes that give us easy answers. Difference and sameness, conformity versus openness to other perspectives – it’s never this simple.

There are many reasons for this phenomenon, and I won’t attempt to examine any of them in detail here, but for the purposes of this short exploration into the importance of representation, it’s worth making the point that when any society seeks to reduce things to an ‘us versus them’ scenario, you know you are at the mercy of a very particular kind of storyteller – the powerful liar.

However, there are ways of approaching the contradictions of the world without either fear or the rhetoric of hatred. To fear is childish, to flounder and even glory in the absence of experience. To conquer fear is the courage of the childlike, to assume curiosity and interest over apprehension and suspicion. It’s in children that we find the many and myriad possibilities of humanity.

As children, we have greater capacity to grow and learn than at any other time in our lives. I’ve found that encouraging active mental channels back to my child-self and the innate, innocent curiosity I had back then – rather than any fear – has almost always enabled me to find pathways forward out of the depressing and stressful periods of my life.

It takes a bit of experimentation and experience to figure out how one’s own emotions really work – to not be controlled by them but make them work harmoniously for you in your everyday experience of the world.

As a professional storyteller, there have been many occasions when I have been asked how one teaches a sense of empathy, of connection, sympathy, rapport. Like any worthwhile project, it’s cumulative and ongoing. Stories equip children with information about the world in advance of actual experience.

Of course, in the realm of storytelling, opposites are useful, as conflict is drama. Good and evil, light and shadow. Left and right, rich and poor, warlike and peaceful, happy and sad. Black and white. Us against Them. Me and the other. Me and Everyone Else.

Tribalism is coded into us, which is why it can be weaponised and used against us. This is why it’s crucial that we teach our children to detect and recognise it and oppose it when it’s being used to manipulate us. Life isn’t black-and-white, or even simply shades of grey – not if we don’t want it to be.

Representation provides nuance. It’s both sophistication and an insurance against division and dehumanisation. Quite apart from that, it gives a child – or the wise adult that they’ll hopefully evolve into – a sense of place in a world that has a greater chance of reaching that aspirational goal of every individual truly being “free and equal in dignity and rights.”

It’s important for any child’s development to see themselves reflected back in the media they encounter. It’s pivotal, for their own imaginative development and evolving senses of empathy and sympathy, to give them the chances to see themselves in others, in fiction, in roles that might inspire them, whether it’s via stories on TV, in film, in literature, in comics, in games, in advertising, in public messaging of any sort. It’s essential for them to be allowed to play out of all sorts of possible roles in their minds (and most parents already know this instinctively).

For all the reasons above, representation is perhaps the most important aspect of all corners of modern storytelling, in whatever creative industry or media spotlight it may occur.

Never before has there been a moment in history when an understanding of difference as a positive has been so crucial. A connection to all our different possible and better selves has never counted like it does now, because it brings about an openness to communication and new ideas that will be essential to our long-term mass survival.

Representation is one of the basic building blocks of fostering such understanding. Representation creates consideration and connection. Never before has it mattered so much that we foster relationships, awareness and understanding between the different peoples of this Earth.

Racial strife, prejudice, differences of belief and opinion aren’t going to go away if we begin to comprehend and represent the wide variety of this world’s inhabitants better, but it’s a good start. This world may be overheating, but it’s still beautiful, full of ideas, passions, sensory experiences and ways of being and seeing that you (and I) will never enjoy directly.

Living those, through stories, via storytellers, via fiction or via documentaries, diarists and journalists… it all makes the scope of life so much vaster and richer than our day-to-day grinds. I can only thank all those sharers of experience for these gifts, for all that insight. It helps me transcend my own parochialism.

One’s own attitude to and perception of the subjects of representation, diversity and inclusion may depend on multiple factors. What I’ve learned in a lifetime of listening and observing is that not many people actually do live in a vacuum, or honestly want to return to a time when we were hunter-gatherers being paranoid about the tribe in the next valley over. “Fear of the other” is the biggest lie humankind ever sold itself. But myths hold power. They shore up all the old systems and still work as the blinkered control-rhetoric of an elite, selfish few who ensure that things stay as they are.

Language is humankind’s oldest technology, and storytelling and shared information our most powerful tool, which is why we should always exercise it and process it thoughtfully. We all have this gene, this ability for telling stories, so tell them well. Don’t live in a world without imaginative sympathy, without benevolent curiosity.

Representation is one of the most important facets of all storytelling, a versatile lens through which we can view ourselves and extend the range of our knowledge and experience. We are humanity. We contain multitudes,  and we can each all live several lifetimes inside of one, if we remain open to those possibilities.

 

We would like to thank Nick for taking the time to share his perspective with us. We hope you have found it as inspirational and thought-provoking as we did!

You can read more from Nick at his blog: https://www.nickabadzis.com/blog

We also recommend checking out Skin Trouble when it is released – we will be sharing it in our channels too and can’t wait to read it. Younger readers are sure to enjoy his comic Pigs Might Fly, which features spectacular illustrations too. It’s a fun adventure story about Lily Leanchops, who invents a flying machine to take on some wicked warthogs. We love it!

Storytime Issue 91 Out Now!

 

We live in challenging times, when it can be tempting to be selfish. However, we humans are at our best when we take care of ourselves, others, and the world around us. The latest issue of Storytime is all about characters who care in different ways and make the world a better place for that reason!

 

Storytime Issue 91 – The Importance of Caring

 

The Water of Life features three siblings who work together to build a beautiful house for their mother… and then go on a quest to find the magical Tree of Beauty, the Water of Life and the Talking Bird to build her a garden. The two brothers and sister realise what can be accomplished if we work together and support each other. We are honoured that Vera Zaytseva provided the art for this story, as her illustrations really add to the magic!

 

The Queen Bee is a similarly fantastic tale starring a young prince who sets out to rescue a princess who was turned to stone. To free her he must complete seemingly impossible tasks or be turned to stone himself. Luckily, he had previously been kind and cared for a few creatures on the way there, who in return will help him in his quest. This tale, featuring art by the amazing Rita Rosa Del Sorbo, reminds us that good deeds are often rewarded in unexpected ways.

 

Boys and girls alike are sure to love the story of The Sea Monster of the Oki Islands. When her father his exiled, young and brave Tokoyo sets out to fin him because she misses her dad. But when she discovers that the people of the Oki Islands are menaced by a monstrous crab, she decides to fight it in order to help them. She triumphs – and wins her father back. The vibrant illustrations were commissioned to the amazing Olga Surina, who captured the setting of medieval Japan brilliantly.

 

One of the most significant ways that we can care for ourselves and others, of course, is by taking care of our environment. This makes sense, as it affects us all! There have certainly been a lot of stories set after an apocalyptic disaster – but we have been thinking about how to create a ‘positive’ future instead for some time… what if we cared for the world now, and managed to build up a better future?

The result is The Sky Riders, which is set in a future eco-friendly community after rising sea levels have flooded much of the world. We had great fun imagining what life on fictional ‘Novagaia Island’ might be like, and Michel Verdu did an exceptional job capturing life in an environmentally-conscious community. We hope you enjoy the adventure of our young heroes saving the wind-turbines from a storm!

 

This month’s fable has a similar theme of caring for the environment that cares for us. In Planting the Seeds, the greedy fox chews up the cores of the apples he eats, while the conscientious squirrel plants them – and reaps the rewards. Quynh Rua’s portrayals of the animals in this story are quite exceptional – check them out!

 

Another nature-centric tale is our myth this month, The Song of the Wind, which comes all the way from Finland. It is about Vanemuine, the god of song, and how he created a lovely tune that echoes through the forests of his homeland to this day. By listening to the sounds of nature, we can appreciate its beauty – and Cleonique Hilsaca’s unique and gorgeous art brings it to life. Have you cared to listen to all the beautiful sounds around us? Our game in this issue will also help you to pay attention to these sounds and guess them all!

 

Sometimes, though, we must care for ourselves and stay true to our nature. Francesca Vitolo has a flair for fashion in her work, so it was only natural that we would approach her to illustrate The Little Tailor Girl. It’s the story of a little girl named Gabrielle … who would grow up to be known as ‘Coco Chanel’. Despite her challenging childhood, she believed in herself, and made the world a more beautiful place in the process!

 

Of course, we couldn’t forget the importance of caring for those who do so much for us! Master illustrator Giorgia Broseghini provided the art for this month’s bedtime story, in which Aladdin thanks his best friend for everything he does. Genie Appreciation Day should inspire all of us to take care of those special people in our lives… who would you like to show appreciation for?

 

And we finish on a note celebrating the International Women’s Day because this issue is also full of amazing women who challenged conventions, conquered their fears and helped others. So here is to them all, the amazing little girls out there – and to a world full of kindness! It’s very special issue indeed!

 

Happy Reading!

 

The Storytime team

Becky Goddard-Hill: Author Interview

 

We here at Storytime believe it’s vitally important to talk about mental and emotional health – that’s why we discuss these topics on this blog and in the My Mind Matters section of the magazine every month.

 

Children’s Mental Health Week is being held on 7-13 February 2022, and this year’s theme is Growing Together. You can find out more about it here. Useful resources from the Red Cross can downloaded here as well.

 

This year, we have joined Children’s Mental Health Week by giving away a complete set of activity books by author, blogger and psychotherapist Becky Goddard-Hill in our monthly competition on Social Media. These wonderful volumes are sure to inspire children to learn about their emotions through play, and we were lucky enough to get a chance to chat with Becky about her work and find out more about what inspires her too!

 

Storytime: You have been really busy writing your books and your excellent Emotionally Healthy Kids blog! Can you tell us a bit more about what inspired you to start blogging?

 

Becky Goddard-Hill: Before I had children, I was a social worker and ran a small private psychotherapy practice for kids. I loved working with children and helping them feel strong, empowered, resourceful and able to cope with life’s challenges.

I stopped doing face-to-face work when I had my own kids, but I still had time to write. Sharing what I knew online at Emotionally Healthy Kids seemed to be a great solution. In recent years I have started direct practice again, but I still love vlogging, podcasting and writing for and about emotionally healthy kids.

 

Storytime: How crucial do you think it is to focus on mental health and discuss it openly, especially after the challenges of the last couple of years?

 

Becky Goddard-Hill: Good mental health makes home and school life easier, happier, smoother, and better in every way. Promoting it should be at the heart of parenting and education, in my opinion!

Life has been tricky for everyone over the past few years, and children have experienced living with uncertainty, poverty, stress, and illness, away from their friends and the security of school and their usual routine. This has made many children feel isolated, insecure, and anxious. It is so important to support children and help them to feel stronger, more resilient, and more confident so they can cope with life and the challenges it brings.

 

Storytime: Your books encourage creativity and interaction with nature. What role do you think they can play in nurturing children’s mental health?

 

Becky Goddard-Hill: Nature is healing, it is accessible, and it is free, so it makes a wonderful play resource for children! Even kids living in urban environments can visit parks, cloud-watch, plant wildflower seed bombs and explore. Connecting with nature is therapeutic as well as fun – it slows down children’s busy minds and helps them relax whilst also making them feel connected to and protective of the world around them.

Creativity has a similar absorbing and mindful effect, allowing kids’ worries about the past and fear of the future to subside as they focus on the present, using their imaginations and getting lost in what they are making. The flow of creative pursuits is wonderful for stressed minds and one of the key sources of deeper happiness.

 

Storytime: Could you share any tips on how we can encourage creative play with their children on a day-to-day basis?

 

Becky Goddard-Hill: We need to make time for play, so try to avoid back-to-back scheduled activities!

 

Storytime: How important do you think storytelling is for developing a creative environment at home?

 

Becky Goddard-Hill: My books contain lot of stories of real-life heroes, of inspiring historical figures and awesome inventors. Stories are amazing!

They are also a brilliant way to share messages of resilience and problem-solving, introduce kindness superstars and diversity issues, celebrate uniqueness, and so much more.

Children love stories, and they help to start conversations that are so important in a creative and emotionally healthy home. Stories allow the imagination to take flight, inducing feelings of calm and passion, adventure and resolution. They need to be at the very centre of a creative home.

 

Storytime: Have you considered writing stories for children as well or talking about emotional mental health through stories?

 

Becky Goddard-Hill: Yes, I have done this a few times for children I have worked with to help them through specific issues, and this is something I am looking to do more of for the public in future.

 

Storytime: We are very happy to be sharing the “Create your own…” series bundle with our readers this month. They highlight calm, happiness and kindness as very important emotional concepts. Would you suggest reading them in a particular order?

 

Becky Goddard-Hill: They can be read in any order, and the activities can be dipped in and out of, too! I would say that if your child is experiencing a low mood, start with Create Your Own Happy. If they get stressed, start with Create Your Own Calm, and if they struggle with being kind to themselves, start with Create Your Own Kindness. There are a wide variety of fun activities in the books, and they are so beautifully illustrated that kids find them very appealing. I hope your children will enjoy taking a good look though and picking out the activities they like.

 

Storytime: This week we celebrate Children’s Mental Health Week – but it is something we should focus on all year around. Could you share three mentally healthy habits we can add to our little ones’ routine to help raise emotionally healthy children?

 

Becky Goddard-Hill: You are so right! We do need to focus on it all year round, daily when possible. These habits can help:

 

Affirmations

Affirmations are a lovely way to start the day! As your child brushes their teeth each morning, have them repeat one of the following sentences to themselves so they feel confident and clear about their capabilities as they start their day:

  • I am strong
  • I am kind
  • I am a good friend
  • I can do difficult things

 

Gratitude

Gratitude is a proven way to help reduce stress and promote habits of positive thinking. Make it a habit for your child to say what they are thankful for on the way home from school or over dinner – and share your own gratitude, too!

 

Self-kindness

Self-kindness is a key concept to teach kids! We want it to become so ingrained that it will become their natural response to tough times.

Encourage your child to make a list of all the nice things they can do to cheer themselves up. Ideas could include:

  • Listening to music
  • Snuggling in their favourite blanket
  • Cuddling their pet
  • Taking a long bath
  • Rereading their favourite story
  • Calling their grandma

Have them keep their list somewhere safe. Suggest that they do something on that list every day, and add to it all the time! Explain that whenever they are feeling down, self- kindness can lift them up – and they should choose an activity from their list.

Learning to meet tough times with increased self-love is a positive mental health habit for life! It is never too early to teach kids to be positive, grateful and self-caring. The teen years can be tricky, and kids need coping strategies in place in order to deal with them well.

 

Storytime: Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us today, Becky! I’m sure our readers will find your books and blogs invaluable!

 

You can check out Becky’s blog at https://emotionallyhealthykids.com/.
Her books can be found at https://harpercollins.co.uk/collections/books-by-becky-goddard-hill or on Amazon here.

 

What good habits are you putting into practice this year? Share your thoughts with us – and keep following My Mind Matters! every month! For our part, we are grateful to have such awesome readers and the opportunity to share our stories and creative activities with you all. We look forward to bringing you another year of fun and happiness in the pages of Storytime!

Storytime Issue 90 Out Now!

 

This year, February 1st marks the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Tiger. In Chinese culture it is a time to put the old year behind and embrace the opportunities and good fortune of the new one! It just so happens that this month’s issue also features a Chinese Fairy Tale in our cover – so we feel like celebrating all month long too!

 

Appropriately enough, this month’s issue has many tales about taking chances and finding new opportunities! Come with us to discover the adventures and magic with have in our latest issue waiting for you!

 

Storytime Issue 90 – Happy Year of the Tiger

 

The Quest for Mushrooms is about two little boys who decide to venture out into the countryside, and finding treasures along the way. Carina Povarchik’s art really brings it to life, from the sun-dappled fields to the dark, shadowy forests… it’s as if we’re being taken along on the boys’ journey! The message of this story is that you can find new things – if you dare to take that first step outside your door!

 

The Greek myth of The Dragon’s Teeth stars the hero Cadmus, who suffers a grave misfortune. When his sister is kidnapped by a huge white bull, he is thrown out of his home city and sent to a new continent to find her. He almost loses hope, but with determination (and a little divine guidance!) he has the opportunity to make something for himself and founds a mighty city! Perhaps we learn from this that setbacks can sometimes open us up to new possibilities! Check out the illustrations by Alberto Orso – he did a phenomenal job of capturing the epic feel of this legend.

 

The Boy with Many Names is about a lad who travelled far across his native land of South Africa – and as the title indicates, he is known by many names over the years! As he visits new places and takes on new names, he finds out many new things and grows as a person. We can learn from his example to never stop evolving and learning. Adriana Predoi takes us to another place and time with her gorgeous art, bringing the childhood of Nelson Mandela to life!

 

Sometimes, we also have the chance to make a change in our lives just by changing out attitude and acting with kindness. The latest entry in the ‘Short Stories, Sweet Dreams’ series, illustrated as always by the extremely talented Giorgia Broseghini, is Jack the Giant-Friend. The main character was once known as a giant-slayer, but in this story he discovers that not all giants are bad – and makes awesome new friends along the way!

 

Our cover story is the Around the World Tale, The Fairy Serpent, a beautiful Chinese variation on the classic tale of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. A girl marries a magical creature to keep a promise her father made. At first, she doesn’t want to do so, but by giving him a chance, she learns that there is more to him than meets the eye. This is a story of love of different kinds, and Clarissa Corradin’s pictures will take your breath away.

 

We love learning new riddles here at Storytime – and Huckleberry is an American fairy tale about a gnome who is keen to tell people his new riddle – but he hasn’t bothered to come up with an answer! Luckily, a clever shepherdess is able to answer them all! A reminder that admitting that we don’t know something gives us a chance to find out new things! The awesome Marina Halak is responsible for the fine art in this tale.

 

The Lion’s Wedding is sure to be a favourite with our readers – largely because Nehuen Defosse’s vibrant art will transport us to the lush jungle too! You’ll love to spot the beautiful animals hiding in these pages. This is a sweet story about the animals not turning up when the king of the jungle gets married – but regretting their decision when they find out how nice he is and what a great ceremony they missed. Perhaps in the New Year we could make resolutions to go to the parties we are invited to… because we might never know what we’re missing?

 

And finally, a little nod to Pancake Day coming up soon! Our folk tale The Runaway Pancake is about “someone” who do not like to miss out on opportunities! The cheeky treat jumps out of a frying pan and runs away from a mother, her seven kids, a grandfather and many others in a madcap chase across town! Clarissa França’s art adds lively energy to the tale. But it also has a lesson: it CAN be important to look before you leap into new things – as the pancake eventually discovers!

 

We hope you enjoy every bite of this month’s issue! We would like to remind you that all subscribers can download 20-page packs that are full of activities on topics ranging from reading comprehension to art, geography and mathematics. You can access this month’s pack here – and read all about the Chinese New Year celebrations too!

 

Happy Reading!

 

The Storytime team

What Makes A Good Story?

 

Happy New Year everyone! We hope 2022 will be an exciting year to us all! We thought we would kick start it by inviting some guests to our blog this year! We work with some amazing people – and have some lovely friends creating stories all over the place. So we decided to ask them to share thoughts, ideas and stories with our readers and hopefully, we will learn a lot of new things too!

 

This month our guest is the writer, artist and master storyteller Nick Abadzis. Over the course of his career, he has written for Marvel and DC Comics, created a series of amazing children’s books (Pleebus Planet) and even written for the Bob the Builder TV series. In 2007, he released a graphic novel called Laika, about the first dog in space. It won an Eisner award and several other international storytelling prizes. He recently teamed up with Academy Award-winning director Asif Kapadia to create a ground-breaking ‘extended reality’ film about Laika, which takes viewers along on the dog’s trip into space.

 

Nick can tell stories in any format – he has written graphic novels, scripts, fiction, non-fiction and he even does voiceovers… so he REALLY knows what stories are made of! People often ask Nick for advice. In this blog, he agreed to share his wisdom with us. If you love stories as much as we do, you will be fascinated to read about the secrets of a great storyteller! We hope it will also prove inspiring to any readers who dream of writing their own tales.

 

What Makes A Good Story?

 

No-one in the world is interested in hearing a bad story, or rather, a poorly told one. There are a lot of good stories out there, so perhaps the question should really be, “What makes a great story?” What makes a story so compelling and unique that you just have to hear it, want to read it, need to watch it?

 

Storytelling is something all human beings do, whether it’s a casual gossip, a joke to warm up a room or conversation to exchange information. That’s the great advantage evolution gave our species – language, via which we can co-operate, plan, compete, persuade, convince and inspire.

 

Conversation itself takes many forms – from discourse to dialogue, diatribe, debate and discussion – and is both simple and beguilingly complex. It can be straightforward or it can be sophisticated, it can be weaponised or it can be immersive, generous and transformative.

 

Storytelling, as a function of human communication, also takes many forms and is inherent in human beings – it, like language itself, is hardwired into us. Like conversation, it is infinitely malleable and is one of the oldest technologies human beings possess, older even than fire.

 

In that sense, we are all experts. We all know what we like. We might not all know when we are being lied to, but we do know when we are intrigued or entertained by a story. We all have an instinct for storytelling. There is no greater truism than, “It’s the way you tell ‘em,” whether it’s a politician on TV selling an idea, a dramatist convincing a producer to put on her play or simply a parent telling their child a good bedtime story.

 

What we all want to know is, how do I make a good story great? How do you tell a tale that cuts through all the chatter that simply must be heard by those whose attention you capture with that vital first line? If you capture one person’s attention and they like your story, they will spread the word, via conversation, via recommendation, via social media, and before you know it, you have an audience. Capturing their attention is one thing, holding onto it quite another. There are so many skills to master in storytelling.

 

Marshalling one’s own desire to be a storyteller or writer of any kind is a brave thing to do. Like any endeavour, it begins with a single step – a decision to do it, to embrace the idea and decide to live with it; to become it and make it a part of you. A beginning or a change of any kind takes courage.

 

Now you just need some ideas to develop.

 

One of the questions that professionals will tell you they regularly get asked is, “Where do you get your ideas from?” It’s a question that’s often derided as banal, daft, simplistic. It is, however, a question that articulates the basic uncertainty and curiosity that lies at the root of all storytelling, whether poor, good or great.

 

For me, the short answer to where my ideas come from is that I make them up. I have a Muse who, if she is in a good mood, supplies them to me. The longer answer is that they come from observing the world, observations and insights being the raw material that then gets processed through my own highly individual, internal filter of creativity. This is your greatest creative asset: no one sees or experiences the world how you do and if you have a manner of expressing yourself in a way that connects with people, you’re already on your way.

 

What makes a good story? You do.

 

In the end, it’s all you. A story becomes good by simply telling it once, twice, more, by experimenting with it, stretching it, reshaping it. As we all know, any story changes when retold in conversation – it gets embellished, events get reordered for dramatic or humorous effect, the tone of it can change according to your listeners’ reactions. It changes again once you write it down or begin illustrating it.

 

Stories are mutable, flexible, elastic. By telling your story seriously, or by telling it humorously, by choosing a method by which to tell it or frame it, you’re already crafting it in your own unique way. If you’re starting out as a writer, a storyteller or narrative artist of any sort, finding your own voice is the most important thing you’ll ever do.

 

Thing is, if you tell yourself that, it can be daunting, so it’s just as important to play. Don’t set yourself impossible tasks before you’ve fooled around a little and had some fun. Try telling yourself a deliberately bad story to see what happens.

 

The stories you like are not just signifiers of your own tastes, they’re signposts to the kinds of tales you’d like to tell. They’re clues to the path of your own creativity and your own good stories. Follow them.

 

On your way, always remember that mantra: What makes a good story? You do.

 

A good story is an artefact of sorts, whether constructed from words or imagery. It’s a coral skeleton of impressions, embers of a campfire left by a narrator who once stayed there into which you breathe new warmth with your own mind and imagination.

 

Finding your own sense of confidence shouldn’t feel like climbing a mountain in a day; it should feel like exploring it, camping on it, noting the changes in weather from the base to the craggiest peak. One day, if you get to know it, you’ll wake up and find that you have the confidence to push forward, to scale that mountain to the top and maybe see what’s beyond.

 

That way lies the land of the exceptional storytellers.

 

Nick writes about his books, storytelling and many other subjects on his blog, which you can find here: https://www.nickabadzis.com

 

You can also buy his books by following the links on this page: https://www.nickabadzis.com/test

Storytime Issue 89 Out Now!

 

Happy New Year, everyone! This is a special time when we can make a fresh start and explore new possibilities – and that is definitely a theme in this issue of Storytime! We invite you to join us and make 2022 the year of reading!

 

Storytime Issue 89 – A Time for New Beginnings

Our cover story is The Phoenix – and we hope you agree that the art by Davide Ortu is truly spectacular! The phoenix is a mythical bird that is reborn from ashes every five hundred years. This incredible creature is a reminder that we can put the past behind us and make a fresh start – a tale of resilience and hope.

 

One person who worked hard to overcome challenges and become a great inspiration to all is an amazing woman called Temple Grandin. She became a scientist, cattle-pen designer and an autism advocate who helped many people to understand the condition. Our Awesome Adventures this month, Temple Opens the Door, is about her childhood and her unique way of looking at the world, and artist Katya Tikhova did an astounding job in capturing her life. Temple would visualise new situations as being like ‘doors’ she could enter. What new doors would you like to open in the new year?

 

Speaking of new beginnings, The First Sunrise is a wonderful Aboriginal folk story about how the magpies lifted up the dark clouds from the Earth and awoke the sun goddess Wuriupranili, bringing light to the world. It’s a fun and uplifting story, graced by the luminous illustrations of Wandson Rocha. His renditions of Australia’s native animals are incredibly fun and full of life!

 

A new year is also an opportunity to follow our dreams, and many characters in our fairy tale do just that! A wee lad called Elias sells his house so he can learn to play the violin – he is soon making beautiful music, and is joined on his journeys across South America by a parade of dancing animals. The story has an unexpected and happy ending which we won’t spoil here! Sheyla Nogueira rendered the lovely vibrant art and even advised us on which creatures to include in this story!

 

The bedtime story in issue 89, Bambi on Ice, is about our favourite fawn learned to love winter – and ice-skating! We are sure you will love the gorgeous illustrations by Storytime favourite Giorgia Broseghini! Learning something new can open us up to all kinds of new experiences. Can you think of some new hobbies you might like to pursue in the coming year?

 

One skill that is always great to share with others is cooking! That is the theme of Mrs Valencia and the Paella, a fabulous tale by Canadian author Maria Antonia. When her mum is away on business, little Claudia goes to stay with her Spanish neighbour, who teaches her how to make a tasty new dish! Ramona Bruno illustrates this yummy tale with such flair that you can almost smell the rice, chicken and saffron! Why not choose a new dish that you would like to learn how to make? It’s probably easier than you think!

 

Not all changes that we make in our lives need to be big ones – sometimes, just changing our point of view can make a difference! That is what happens in this month’s fable, Genghis Khan and the Hawk. Artist LaPiz brings the past to life in this story of how the great conqueror keeps getting his cup knocked out of his hand. He is furious – until he discovers why the faithful bird did this! A true friend is a real treasure, and we couldn’t agree more with this lesson.

 

But to complete the issue, we thought we would throw a circular tale that reminds us to have fun and laugh! Munachar and Manachar is a rollicking ‘shaggy dog’ story about grumpy Munachar and his complicated plan to punish his berry-stealing friend. This is a great tale to read with someone else – while enjoying Momo Zhang’s hilarious illustrations, of course!

 

We hope you find something new, fun and inspiring in this month’s issue of Storytime! We have a lot of good stories lined-up for issues coming next too – so stay with us, and we will make sure 2022 will be a very magical year to us all!

 

Happy New Year!

 

The Storytime team