Heroes and Heroines


We all have our favourite fictional characters – you can probably name a dozen from myths, legends and popular culture! These characters can be iconic for years or even decades…. and some have had their stories told for a hundred years or more!


But what is their appeal? What makes some heroes and heroines stand the test of time? Studies say we like underdogs, the ordinary people who win against all odds. But other characters are popular because they are so amazing that they couldn’t possibly exist in the real world. Younger characters are appealing to kids because they can immediately identify with them – they are aspirational role models!


But there is one thing that all evergreen heroes have in common – they are fearless and funny and always find a way to win and go on another adventure! We have featured many of these eternal heroes in Storytime through the years, and they have entertained and inspired readers both big and small.


In honour of this month’s cover star, Robin Hood, we have decided to revisit some of our favourite heroes and heroines from past issues of Storytime. Have you read them all? If not, you can pick up any magazines you may have missed from our shop!


1. Robin Hood
Tales about the English outlaw who robs from the rich and gives to the poor date back to the Middle Ages. He has been popular ever since – probably because a clever rebel who fights back against greedy rulers never goes out of fashion! Robin’s story has been retold in dozens of books, movies, TV series and comics, and there are certainly many more to come. We have had some fabulous and fun tales in four issues already …but we are not done with Robin yet. You can read his tales in Storytime 9, 38, 57 and 105!


2. Finn MacCool

Mighty warriors make great heroes – and they don’t get much mightier than Finn MacCool. When it comes to battling giants, he’s your man! He is an iconic character in Irish culture, and pops up in modern novels, plays and even songs… In our magazines, you will find out about his clever wife, the giant he defeated and the fish he cooked to gain wisdom! Find out more about Finn in Storytime 7, 29, 87!


3. Anansi
The spider god is a ‘trickster hero’ from West African myths, and his popularity has spread to the Caribbean as well. Tricksters often triumph over stronger foes using wit and cunning – and when we are facing trouble, we would all like to have the wit and cleverness of Anansi! Perhaps that is why he remains popular to this day? Stories about his deeds have been passed down for centuries, but he also appears in modern books, comics, TV series and music. Anansi has made us laugh many times and we reckon there are many more hilarious tales to uncover!
If you do not know about Anansi, read about him in Storytime 4, 51 and 107 (not out yet!)


4. Ariadne
Myths are full of evergreen heroes and heroines, and this Cretan princess appeared in a couple of Ancient Greek myths already – it was she who gave Theseus the tools he needed to defeat the Minotaur and escape from the maze he was trapped in! Ariadne was associated with intelligence and spinning, so she has inspired clever and creative women for thousands of years… Read some of her magnificent myths in Storytime 12 and 104!


5. Alice in Wonderland
Young Alice tumbles into a dreamlike world where even the strangest things appear to be real! The character was created by mathematician Charles Dodson (writing as Lewis Carroll) in the novels Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871). Her story has been popular ever since, and has been turned into movies, comics and even video games. What is the secret to her lasting appeal? It could be that we can all identify with a child who is caught up in a world that makes no sense – or perhaps we all like to visit a dream-world once in a while! Wonderland is so amazing that it has inspired several spin-off adventures in Storytime! You can follow Alice down the rabbit hole in Storytime 1, 21, and 78!


6. Aladdin
Aladdin is another child hero, this time from Arabian folklore (but he became famous in Europe after his stories were included in the book One Thousand and One Nights). He is a poor boy who makes his fortune after finding a lamp containing a genie! The dream of getting what you want through a combination of cleverness, luck and magic is very appealing, so it’s no wonder his story has been retold so often in books, movies and theatre! The exotic setting of this story inspired some fantastic illustrations featured in Storytime, and he even featured in our first-ever issue! Read how this beloved boy found his fortune in Storytime 1, 40 and 91!


7. Maui
Heroes and heroines come from all over, and we could not leave Maui off this list! Maui is a creator-god from Polynesian myths – it was he who tamed the sun and created New Zealand by hooking a great fish. He is a brave and creative hero who made life better for humans – no wonder he has been beloved among Pacific cultures for many hundreds of years! He has recently become more widely known in Western culture after he appeared in animated films. But he has always been popular in Storytime… and you can find why by reading his tales! Find out more about Maui in Storytime 20 and 48!


Who are your favourite evergreen heroes and heroines, and which ones do you tell stories about to your children? Who else should we have included on this list?


Tell us in the comments – we’d love to know who you would like to see featured in future issues of Storytime!

Storytime Issue 105 Out Now!


Travelling Tales!

Do you already have plans for the summer? Where are you planning to go? To the beach, the park, or perhaps a new town or even a new country? Or maybe you had no plans yet and if so… worry you not! You can certainly take a trip through the adventurous tales you will find in the latest issue of Storytime!


Our cover star is the famous outlaw of Sherwood Forest – and in ‘Robin Hood and his Merry Men’, he decides to help young Alan-a-Dale marry the lady he is in love with. Come to the forest trails with us and join his band! Many artists and filmmakers have depicted the roguish hero over the years, but we think Alberto Orso’s pictures are particularly special!


Would you like to travel by air instead? Then ‘High Fliers!’ is the tale for you! Talented author Amanda Brandon was inspired by the real-life animals that were sent aloft in a balloon built by the Montgolfier Brothers in September 1783 – but this story takes a different turn. Lu Maluje’s art lends a wonderful air (pun not intended!) of whimsy to the story of a sheep, a rooster and a duck that go up in a balloon made from bloomers!


Why not take a trek to Argentina, the setting of ‘The Girl and the Puma’? This classic South American story is about a Spanish girl who runs away from a besieged town and takes refuge with a wild feline in the Pampa landscape. Evelyne Duverne is the brilliant artist who brought these characters to life.


In ‘The Magic Book’, we follow the travels of Hans, a lazy boy who discovers some spells that can turn him into any animal. ArtSoluki are an illustration team, two talented brothers who brought their magic to these pages. Are you not mesmerized by their vivid artwork?





When it comes to real-life travelling tales, you can’t beat the adventures of pioneering tourist Marco Polo! When he was just a teenager, he went from Venice to China and the famous court of the Emperor Kublai Khan… and you can follow in his footsteps by reading ‘Marco’s Epic Journey’. The art by Alessandra Vitelli will make you feel as if you are actually visiting the exotic places he went to.



Still visiting exotic lands, our fable for this month is set in Africa, and Frida Leyva took inspiration from the ancient cultures of that continent when crafting the lovely artwork for it. ‘The Man Who Told the Truth’ is about a king who tries to trick an honest man – who do you think will come out on top?


How about a journey to the Netherlands and some tasty dairy? ‘The Cheese Thieves’ takes readers to the low countries, where they will meet a baby-stealing goblin and a clever granny. Yana Kozak illustrated this folk tale of mischief and melted cheese, and we are sure you can smell the fun!





Lastly, we will keep our readers feeling hungry for more! In our bedtime story you get the chance to venture into the woods with Saint George in ‘The Dragon’s Diet’. Otávio Valões’ bright and lively art perfectly complements this story about a monster who decides to go vegetarian – be sure to check it out!


We are sure this issue feels like many holidays in one! That’s the power of stories – every month you can go far and away without even leaving your armchair. We also hope these tales made you curious for exploring many more places with us. Read away, travellers and explorers of the story lands! Until our next adventure…

Exercise Your Mind With Stories!


We all know that physical exercise is essential for keeping kids healthy and happy. But what about mental exercise? People have begun to realise how important maintaining mental health and resilience are for young minds. But is there an exercise routine that provides benefits for growing brains?


We believe that there is, and it’s called ‘reading stories’! Sitting down to read a tale from the latest issue of Storytime can be thought of as the mental equivalent of a healthy run-around in the fresh air. (And of course, the puzzles in the ‘Playbox’ section of the magazine provide additional stimulation.)


Here are five reasons why reading should be part of your kids’ routine…


1. It keeps the mind flexible! Stretching is vital to keep our bodies limber, and reading can provide a similar benefit for the mind. Sitting down and enjoying a story encourages kids to analyse, visualise and use their imagination. They will explore new possibilities, empathise with others, and look at things from different points of view.


2. It develops mental stamina! These days, we are accustomed to getting ‘bite-size’ bits of information from a variety of digital sources – but sitting down and reading a story from beginning to end teaches kids how to focus on one thing and see it through to the end. Concentrating on a task helps us to absorb and process information, which is a key skill in the modern data-rich world!


3. Bulk up their knowledge! Sports people lift weights to build up muscle, but when kids read books, they are building up their vocabularies and knowledge base. The new words, new ideas or new facts that will come in useful at school and in their everyday lives. Plus, think of how impressed people will be when they show off their new knowledge!


4. The more they read, the easier it becomes! Just like with exercise, repeating an activity builds up our capacity to do more of it! Think of it as being like a running training programme. Children can start out small by reading the shorter stories in Storytime, move on to longer tales – and before long, they will be finishing chapter books on their own.


5. It helps them wind down! A ‘warm-down’ after exercise can help us to relax – and reading a tale has a similar effect on children’s’ brains! When we concentrate on what we are reading and lose ourselves in a story, it reduces stress! A recent study has showed that reading text on a printed page for just six minutes can relax our muscles and slow down our heart rate. Great for chilling out before bed – and far better than staring at a flashing screen last thing in the evening!



We hope we have encouraged you to make reading a regular part of your kids’ ‘exercise’ routine. There is one other thing we should mention: just as with exercise, it is easier to get motivated and have fun with reading if you do it with others!


Spending time reading an issue with Storytime with your child creates shared experiences that brings you closer together. Why not set aside some time for it this evening?

Storytime Issue 104 Out Now!

The Artist's Touch


The Artist’s Touch

In last month’s blog, we talked about AI-created art – and why we don’t think it will replace the human artists in Storytime. This month, we thought we would introduce our latest issue by highlighting the special touches that eight very talented artists brought to the the magazine. There is a lot of creative work that goes into every edition – and we are in awe every time we get the new issue out to our readers. So read a bit more about the extra dust of magic our artists have added to issue 104!


The Artist's Touch

It’s the Easter issue after all, so let’s start with the ‘Hare with Many Friends’ in our fable! Elena della Rocca provided the lovely art for it. Animal stories can be challenging, because the artist has to decide how many human characteristics to add to the animals so that we can identify with them. Elena did this by rendering the characters in a colourful storybook style with expressive faces – while keeping the wolf suitably scary, of course!


‘Philomena’s Happy Place’ is a story that takes a very serious event (an old lady losing her home and needing to find a new place) and turns it into a story of hope! Emanuela di Donna really helped us to accomplish this by adding a sparkle to Philomena’s eyes – as you will see, she captured the warmth and cosiness of the lady’s new home and that garden couldn’t be more magical! Can you spot all the cats hidden in it?


‘The Wonder Games’ is set in Lewis Carroll’s fantastic world of Wonderland. Our short bedtime tales take you back into classics, with a twist. We’ve seen so many images of these characters in books and movies, but our illustrators are free to take a fresh approach, so Andrea Canela came up with her own unique take on them! They are recognisable, but unique and charming in their own right! And yet you know exactly where you are, don’t you?


‘Bunbuku the Tea-kettle’ is a beloved Japanese folk tale, and Mai Ngo’s art brought the moody atmosphere and complemented it perfectly! The watercolour textures, compositions and even facial expressions she used are influenced by historical Japanese paintings and woodblock prints. One can’t help but fall in love with all the symbology she managed to represent in a few pages. The warmth of their friendship is truly palpable in it.


The very talented Dnepwu has illustrated a few stories for our magazine before, but ‘The Wonderful Sheep’ was a particular challenge! The fairy tale is bright and fantastical, and the art the artist made the bold choice of making the characters and setting even more exuberant than they were in the story. As you can see on the cover, the artwork is vibrant and the humour he brought to it, made each character truly unforgettable.


The Awesome Adventures tales in Storytime have been a big hit with readers, but finding the right way to illustrate stories about real people can be difficult! When creating the art for ‘The Little Dragon’ a story about the childhood of kung fu superstar Bruce Lee, Arancha Perpiñan found photographs of the many episodes and movies Bruce was in, but skilfully rendered them in a storybook style while keeping them very recognisable – quite a feat, I’m sure you will agree!


The Artist's Touch

Eleonora Turina made a brave and clever artistic decision when illustrating ‘Dionysus and Ariadne’: the characters in this Greek myth are shown with green and purple skin tones! Dionysus is purple (appropriate for the god of grapes!), the pirates are green, as they live on the sea and the lovely Ariadne is pure gold. It’s striking, original and very clever! Ancient Greek artists did this sort of thing on their own art, as we can see on antique red-figure and black-figure vases, so there is a historical precedent for Eleonora’s masterful work!


The Artist's Touch

Lastly, we have the story of ‘The Heron’s Feathers’. It’s a folk tale, told time and time again and we have set it in modern India. Bruna Assis abstract art skilfully blends the fantastical elements with the everyday story and lands beautifully in our imagination. Her use of textures is a particular delight – and her colour palette is vibrant. We can’t help but love all the animals – the heron, the vulture and even fish made us smile when we saw the printed copy! How much fun is too much fun?


Now that you have the latest issue in your hand, and you know a little bit more about each story, which do you like best? Did reading about the art, gave a new perspective to each tale? We hope you agree that each of them added a magical dimension to the stories. May the hares, the tanuki, the sheep, the flamingo and the heron in this issue make Easter a little more fantastical too!  Happy Easter everyone!

Artificial Art – What’s Next?

Artificial Art - What’s Next?


Have you ever wondered how Storytime is made? How does the creative work happen behind the scenes? In this blog, we will talk about how we craft every issue and how the magic really happens!


First, our team selects submitted tales, researches stories from the past, and writes and edits the text. We discuss how we will tell each tale, what we will leave out, and what new ideas we will add.  Then, when the stories are ready, we send them off to someone who adds their own indefinable magic: the artist!


Over the last eight years, we have worked with literally hundreds of talented artists from around the world. They each bring their own style and imagination to the stories they illustrate. It’s always a thrill to see what they have added to the story – they often come up with visual ideas that enrich the tale far beyond what was written in the text.


Storytime combines words and pictures to tell stories. We think that’s the most powerful combination there is! Writers and artists have teamed up to craft vivid tales for hundreds of years – but could technology make this kind of partnership obsolete?


Artificial intelligence has been used for quite some time now in many sectors. Technology can be good at solving old problems in new and efficient ways. But where do we draw the line? You might have read recent articles about a new development which some fear might take over artists’ jobs!


To put it in simple terms, ‘AI art’ programmes like Midjourney and DALL-E 2 can conjure up pictures in seconds. If you type in a description of what you want, an algorithm (complex mathematical formula) will create an image to order. You even can ask it to create a picture in a certain style or mimic the technique of a particular artist!


These algorithms work by analysing a huge database of art and then create patchwork pictures based on the millions of images they have digested. But what they create is hardly something new or original – they just combine bits of existing art in new combinations and often the result is a vaguely familiar image.


Where do Midjourney and DALL-E 2 get the art that they analyse? It is ‘scraped’ (gathered) from the internet and multiple sources of data. It is common for artists to see bits and pieces of their pictures in AI-created digital images. Nobody asks permission to use their work in this way, nor they get any payment or credit. While the creators of this software claim that it is intended as a tool that ‘enhances and extends the creative process’, many people disagree and there is a huge debate going on right now.


As it stands, it can be tempting for some to use AI created art in magazines and media. It is far quicker and cheaper, for starters! But the reason we thought we would talk about our creative process this month is because, while we have kept an eye on these debates and new technologies, we believe that creativity and human input are an integral part of Storytime. Thus, we so not think that an AI could ever replace our creative team, writers and illustrators.


We believe that art and stories are all about communication – human beings sharing their ideas and experiences and adding to a narrative. Stories are about characters, the things they feel, the things they do, and why they do them. That is why they draw us in! Even in fairy tales, myths or science fiction, we can connect with the characters and empathise with them. It’s more than just a formula, it’s the imperfection and uniqueness that make them unforgettable.


The artists in our magazine are an integral part of our storytelling process. We discuss stories and their meanings with them, and the illustrators lovingly add compositions, poses and facial expressions, rendered in their own unique colour palettes and add so many details to every scene that you feel there is another story happening in the background of every illustration you see! They always add something of themselves to the art. We love to spot these things – and young readers do too! (For example, one artist added a sword from her favourite video game to the background of a giant’s lair!) It is their skill, empathy and imagination that breathe life into pictures of characters and the worlds they inhabit.


You could get an AI art app to create a picture of ‘wooden puppet boy in fish stomach fairy tale’ to illustrate a tale about Pinocchio, say. The art might ‘look OK’ – but an AI wouldn’t be able to use imagination and emotion to add drama and feeling to the image and perhaps understand why Pinocchio ended up in the fish’s stomach! It would feel flat. Only an artist that reads and understands the themes and emotions in a story can do that.



We are so grateful to the hundreds of talented illustrators who have brought their magic to Storytime with pencil, brush or drawing tablet. You all help us to tell our stories in unpredictable and extraordinary ways that an AI never could. We also hope this wonderful world of original art and storytelling we have created will continue to be exciting and thrilling to the thousands of readers around the planet who chose to join us! Technology will continue to improve our lives, fill up some of the functions in society, speed up research and bring a lot of good to the world – but it shall never replace human creativity!


Image credits: rawpixel.com and Drazen Zigic

Storytime Issue 103 Out Now!

Where will you go?


Where Will You Go?

Going to new and unexpected places is a thrilling experience – and through the magic of stories, you can travel to them without leaving your chair (or your bed, if that’s where you like to read!) Let us invite you to a quick tour of the wonderful places that the latest issue of Storytime will take you.


High Adventure is set high in the Himalayas, near Mount Everest. It features in the Worlds of Wonder strand, which is certainly a fitting description! This tale stars a Sherpa boy named Pasang, who saves a mountain-climber lost in a snow storm. Cacá França’s art makes you feel as if you are going on this journey with him, as it really captures the grandeur and of the highest mountains on Earth.


But that’s not the only high-altitude story this month! The Golden Duck tells the tale about a race to the top of a mountain by a frog and a rabbit – and ends with a duck who was just trying to help, being sprinkled with gold dust. Rossnelly Salazar did the same with the illustrations – sparkling gold dust to the characters, who seem ready to leap off the page!


We travel far to the other side of the globe, to Mexico with this month’s myth! “The Gift of Corn” comes from Aztec legends and takes us from the dark of the underworld to the very top of a magic mountain where foods of all kinds grow, especially their beloved corn. The unique style of Aztec art influenced the vivid pictures created by Daniela Martín Del Campo.


If mountains aren’t your thing, how would you like to visit the depths of the ocean? A spoiled Indian prince goes there in search of magical gems in Where Rubies Come From. Artist Milvilla did a wonderful job of bringing the colourful characters in this fantastic fairy tale to life.


Pinocchio goes on an even more unexpected journey in The Dog-Fish’s Stomach Ache, illustrated by the amazing Felipe Calv. He takes a dive down a giant fish’s gullet – would you like to guess what he found there?


Perhaps you like sunny beaches, tropical forests and exotic creatures though? Then look no further – you can read The Great Flood and it will whisk you away to the Philippines, where a giant crab threatens the their world. Don’t worry, as we learn with this tale that when we work together we can overcome all challenges and the redoubtable Claudia Marianno somehow makes this monstrous creature, a little more affable and colourful in her artwork!


Our folk tale will take you through an enchanted forest. Have you ever wondered about the story behind the nursery-rhyme about a certain shepherdess who lost her all her sheep? Little Bo-Peep is full of magic and enchantment, as you will see when you spot Pete Olczyk’s bewitching illustrations!






Lastly, our cover story will transport us through space and time! Amelia’s Wild Ride opens in one of the greatest shows ever held – the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 in St Louis! Daisy Ingrosso’s art takes us through this spectacular event, which was attended by a little girl and this experience inspired her to go on to an incredible career as an aviator!


And we hope the stories will do the same to all little readers and explorers out there!


What is the best place that a story has ever taken you? Is it another land, another time, a fictional place, or another planet? We hope you meet you there! Enjoy the journey and let us know your favourite one too!

With love, from the Storytime team

Four steps to support struggling readers


One of our key aims at Storytime is to share our love of reading with as many children as possible – but for some children, reading is a challenge.


Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) can have a hard time learning to read as sometimes their condition affects the development of their foundational language and social skills. Even those who have learnt to read may struggle with comprehension, which can greatly impact their confidence and performance at school. It is estimated that almost a fifth of all children in UK schools have special educational needs (SEN) that affect their reading, and most of them are educated in mainstream schools that have limited resources[1] to help them.


It can be daunting to realise that your child has severely fallen behind their peers, and parents may at times feel that they are facing an unsurmountable challenge when supporting their child’s learning. However, there are some simple strategies and tools that parents, carers and educators can use to support their children and positively impact their reading and learning processes.

[1] Source: Department for Children Schools and Families Building Bulletin


1. Choose the right books

When trying to engage a child with reading it is essential to choose the right books to begin with. Some material might be overstimulating, and others are not stimulating enough. It is crucial to strike the right balance.


Choosing a book in line with your child’s interest is a good start. Choose the story together – let the child pick their favourite theme or topic as they are more likely to engage with it when reading.


The layout of the book or magazine should be simple and easy to understand. Changes of pace in stories make it easier for the child to follow the plot, and stories with a slower pace will be easier to follow for beginners.


Illustrations are a useful tool to help a child connect with a story and facilitate imaginative play. Artworks can trigger a range of feelings and inspire us to investigate further what we are seeing or hearing, and can be especially helpful for children with SEN, who often learn better with visual stimuli.


2. Put some time aside to plan the stories

SEN children often benefit from routine and consistency, so create a regular timeslot in the evening for reading with your child. Even five or ten minutes can make a difference!


Do some preparation before reading with your child – go through the story highlighting the words that are repeated most often or are onomatopoeic, as this will help them understand the structure of the story. Point out the trickier words and explore them. Make a glossary in the form of a deck of flashcards, with drawings which will help them to form mental images. Then, when you do read the story together, you do not have to stop too much to explain things.


I do a lot of historical research for my stories, then filter out things that might be too complex or gory for the target age group. However, I do my best to give the ‘flavour’ of an era.


3. Shared Reading

Shared reading is incredibly important when it comes to encouraging any child to read, and this is especially true for children with SEN. This is a simple process which helps bond the parent and child and, if done on a regular basis, it may considerably enhance a child’s reading ability. Here are a few more pointers:


  • Sit side-by-side with your child so that they can see the pages you are reading.


  • Take your time and use the images as a starting point for exploring and discussing the story with your child.  For instance, look at the cover together; what could the book be about? Get your child involved in the story from the start and encourage them to talk about it.


  • When reading the story, point to the illustrations and follow each word with your finger, so that your child can associate the sounds they are hearing with the letters they see.


  • When reading aloud, put lots of expression into your reading so that your child can copy what you are doing. You could use different voices to create more engagement or choose other reading styles which may better suit your child such as picture reading for instance. You can also share the storytelling roles and give a character to your child so they can play a role too.


Encourage your child to repeat any rhymes or repetitions out loud.  Praise them often.


4. Have a conversation

Praise them!

When you have finished reading, talk to your child about the story, ask them questions, engage with them, and encourage them to talk. And praise them again! Praise and rewards are a great way to keep them motivated and engaged in the activity.


Follow-up conversations may also help with reading comprehension, which is a critical building block for effective literacy development. This is also an opportunity to help them understand the narrative, analyse the characters and the plot, and build their vocabulary. All this reinforcement helps them to consolidate their knowledge and comprehension.


Finally, it is important not to get discouraged! Most children with SEN will learn to read and enjoy storytelling. It is sometimes just a matter of time – many children eventually develop a real love for reading and turn into real bookworms. Reading plays a huge role in a boosting a child’s confidence, personal development, and academic achievement. It is a gift that lasts for a lifetime.


We hope that sharing the gift of stories will lead to some amazing, shared moments! Many children with SEN can connect with and learn from characters in stories. Tales can teach us to communicate emotionally while also developing literacy levels.


We developed Storytime with struggling and reluctant readers in mind – because we believe that with the right support and strategies, children who are struggling with literacy can blossom, and even become avid readers. A magazine is usually less intimidating than a book, and easier to complete for less confident readers.


The huge variety of subjects in Storytime means that there is a story in it for everyone, and the different levels of difficulty allow the readers to progress through the issue from shorter to longer stories without feeling intimidated. Colourful bright illustrations and the lack of adverts help to keep the readers engaged with each story with no distractions!

Storytime Issue 102 Out Now!


Meeting Some New Friends

Meeting new people can be exciting – and you will find some new and interesting friends inside the pages of this month’s issue of Storytime. They are so fantastic that we thought we ought to share a special thanks to our fantastic artists, who really brought them to life!


On the cover, you will see Fergus and his new friend, from the story Mayhem in the Museum. He really likes dinosaurs – and makes a friend of his own on a surprising school trip. We won’t spoil what happens, but it is really great fun… Qazaleh Barootian, our guest artist from Iran, did a wonderful job with the illustrations! It will make you feel as if you really were in a fabulous museum!


Next, we have a fairy tale about a boy whose very large footwear gave him an unusual nickname! In Boots and his Brothers, the young Boots is a curious and good-natured boy and he can teach his older brothers a thing or two! The things Boots finds on his way will become his friends too! There’s plenty of magic and adventure in the story and part of that magic is provided by Chiara Carapallese, with her bright and lively art!


earthquake fishHow about a trip all the way to Japan? Which creatures would you meet there? The Earthquake Fish stars two leading characters who are famous in Japanese mythology – a hot-tempered thunder god and a giant catfish who makes the world tremble by wriggling his tail. Wiliam Luong used historical Japanese prints as inspiration for these unforgettable illustrations, while giving them his own unique twist. You’ll love them!



Twelve Dancy Princesses

Gubbon Seer is a very clever chap that is good company… even if he does like to play tricks on people! Mariane Cândido illustrated this folk tale about what happened when a greedy king gets Gubbon Seer to build an extraordinary castle and then plans to swindle him! Let’s just say, there are plenty of riddles and plot twists in this one!


Friends can be in our family too – and when twelve sisters move house, they know they can count on each other! The Twelve Dancing Princesses are lucky when they move out of their palace and into a dance studio in The Princesses Move In. They all team up and help each other to face the mess! Check out their cool new cleaning-dance moves in the images by the talented Francesca Romana Braccioti!



When you’re visiting a new place, you want a cool fellow who knows their way around! That describes the Native American heroine of Sacagawea Leads the Way, this month’s real-life story. Sacagawea guided the Lewis and Clark expedition that crossed the American continent, and helped them to get along with the peoples they encountered. Fran Matsumoto takes us along with her, via her beautiful and vivid artwork!


The Magic Garden is a story from Kazakhstan that is about a wise boy who wants to build a garden where people who need it can find peace and plenty. He’s the kind of person we all would like to know – honest and caring, and willing to get things done! Öykü Akarca’s work show his creation in all its wonder…


measure of rice

After all the nice mates we met above, here comes a little plot twist of our own! Sometimes we meet people who can be a bit silly! The Measure of Rice features a foolish man who doesn’t want to do any work but gets a big job. A greedy emperor gives him a very important responsibility and chaos ensues! No one wants to be his mate but he’s bound to make you laugh! Cristina di Pietro illustrated the adventure of the one guy you wouldn’t want to be friends with in this issue!



Which of the characters in this issue would you want to meet? Make sure you have plenty of adventures and magic lined up with your new friends – be it imaginary ones, and real ones too! And one thing is for sure, as the year is just starting we promise you that many more fabulous friends big and small will feature here soon! Happy story time, y’all!


Experiencing the Past

Experiencing the past


Here at Storytime, we love history! It tells us about where we come from – and it’s a brilliant source of amazing adventures.


Children’s author Amanda Brandon certainly shares our enthusiasm! She loves to delve into historical settings in her tales (check out The Chariot Race from Storytime 83!). In this blog .


Amanda is a gifted storyteller and has had nearly 20 titles published, including picture books A Scarf and a Half and Unicorn Training and stories for young readers. An avid bookworm since childhood, she wants children to discover a joy for reading which will last a lifetime. And we couldn’t agree more!


Studying history helps children to understand the world better and learn lessons about happiness, facing challenges and the concept of ‘difference’ that are still relevant in the modern day. But how can we bring the past to life for them?


Firstly, there are many marvellous non-fiction books that present historical information in an entertaining way. The Horrible Histories series is full of fun and gruesome tales about the Ancient Greeks, Victorians, Romans and others! There are also Horrible Histories games and quiz cards that are brilliant for kids who are reluctant readers but like to absorb facts in different ways.



Encouraging children to read historical fiction set in the past is another great way to help them imagine what it would have been like to live in a different time and place.

In my book Battle for Freedom, the main character is Rowan, an ancient British shepherd girl who uses her knowledge of the marshlands to outwit the Roman invaders and help the warrior queen Boudicca.


In Sprog the Time-hopping Frog, the title character leaps back to Ancient Greece and takes part in athletic games!


In both stories, I tried to give children historically accurate information but deliver in an entertaining way. Including details about food, clothing and key events really brings an era to life!


I do a lot of historical research for my stories, then filter out things that might be too complex or gory for the target age group. However, I do my best to give the ‘flavour’ of an era.


For example, in The Great Chariot Race (Storytime 83) I hope I gave a feeling of what chariot-racing might be like for a young Roman boy.




My favourite subject to research was the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. I was fascinated by the real-life hunt for the Egyptian ruler’s treasure – it was like an old-time adventure with intrigue, setbacks and secret tunnels! I thought it was a perfect subject to focus on.


What child doesn’t like the idea of searching for buried treasure, after all? Pharaoh’s Treasure mixes fact and fiction in a story about a boy who wants to be an archaeologist and embarks on an adventure of his own.



I love chatting to older people about their school days or what they used to do for fun! By encouraging children to talk to older relatives and acquaintances about their experiences, you can help them to understand different periods and how the world has changed. Speaking to a family member makes history more relatable, and it also gives a chance to record their recollections so their stories can be passed on to younger generations.


I love to visit a ‘living museum’ that brings the sights, smells, sounds of the past to life. This is another great way to motivate children to enjoy history. They can even become a part of it if there are costumes they can wear, artefacts they can touch or re-enactments they can participate in. It’s so much better than looking at dusty old objects in glass cabinets!


Kids can also get ‘hands-on’ with history by making crafts or artefacts of their own – whether it be a knight’s helmet or a Roman clay pot. How about looking up recipes from a certain time period and making historical food so you can get a taste of the past?


It’s easy to think of history as a long list of dates and facts, but with a little imagination and a bit of motivation you can seek out stories that bring history to life!


By now, you must all be keen to read everything Amanda has written so far! She also wrote Miss Beck’s Spectacular Specs in Storytime 37 and The Royal Birthday Surprise in Storytime 45. Visit her website to find out more: www.amandabrandon.co.uk


Experiencing the past

We have three of her latest books to give away: Sprog the Time-hopping Frog, The Greenwood Adventurers and Pharaoh’s Treasure, by Maverick Books. To enter the draw to win, just answer the question below.

What was an ancient Egyptian ruler called?

A. An emperor

B. A bishop

C. A pharaoh


Send your answer to win@storytimemagazine.com for a chance to win the book bundle!

Storytime Issue 101 Out Now!


New Year’s Resolutions

A new year brings new possibilities! At this time, we think about things we want to do, places we want to visit, or ways we want to change our habits. In fact, you might find inspiration in this month’s issue – it’s full of characters that are facing new challenges or looking for new adventures!


‘Where the Frost Comes From’ is a wonderful Aboriginal myth that stars… well, stars! Seven sisters called the Meamei get bored of their life in the heavens and decide to come down to Earth. They have many new experiences – and new dangers! Elena Iarussi did a fantastic job of bringing the legend of the seven sisters to life through her art.


Our cover story, ‘The Firefox’, is inspired by a Finnish myth and it features a little Finnish boy called Onni. His grandfather takes him out for his first midwinter skiing trip in the woods, where he sees a mythical creature – and the beauty of the Northern Lights! Esther Diana’s gorgeous art sparkles with shimmering colours.


This issue also features a magical modern-day story by the talented author Emmy Clarke. ‘Floorboard Fairies’ is about a girl named Kate, who holds a sleepover for her friends and shares a secret with them. But when they doubt her stories about magical beings under the floorboards, she decides to go in search of a mythical creature and show them they exist. We won’t tell you what this creature is… but Sara Torretta’s pictures are truly fantastic!


If you want to change the world, then get inspired by the brilliant Eunice! ‘Young, Gifted and Black’ is an inspirational real-life story about a girl who has an incredible gift for music and is determined to use her talent to change the world too. Artist Kalakal tells the tale of a young Nina Simone through his vibrant and unique art – this is a story that you won’t forget.


Not all characters in this issue go out looking for adventure – but just like in real life, sometimes we have challenges forced upon us. If this new year will bring unexpected events, we can face them bravely, just like the heroes of these stories!


‘Tootles Gets Lost’ is about one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys. Appropriately enough, he gets lost in the forest at night… but don’t worry, he finds warmth and shelter in an unexpected place! Illustrator Katherine Frota transforms this minor character into a star in this comforting bedtime story.


If you are hungry for more stories, then we have a very funny one for you! The main character in ‘A Hungry Cat’ is looking for more things to eat! But this famished feline certainly has an adventurous appetite. Wait until you see what he gobbles! This is a hilarious folk tale, and the artist Thaís Mesquita had loads of fun creating images for it.


In this month’s fairy tale we also learn that the true beauty is inside out! So what would your magic mirror say, if you asked? ‘Snowdrop’ is about a princess, seven dwarves and a magic mirror – but it has a twisting end and a reminder that you don’t need a prince to tell you how truly beautiful you are! The art of Weronika Bartczak is truly the most wonderful thing you might see in a while, and it adds some extra magic to this tale.


The New Year is also a time for resolutions, where we promise to improve and become the best version of ourselves. But the fable of ‘The Boastful Bird’ is about a crow that is overly confident in his abilities and tries to be like an eagle. Helena Yastremska captured the comedy of the tale with her bright art! This story has a gentle message: it’s good to have aspirations – but also to be true to your own nature.


What are your wishes for the New year? What would you like to try perhaps that you have never done before? We hope the tales in this issue will inspire you to live this year in full – we cannot wait to hear about all your adventures and the stories you have to share! In the meantime, we will get ourselves busy preparing many more stories to inspire you next month again! Happy New Year of Stories!