Last week, Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings featured some of the smaller and harder-to-spot members of the magical world – brownies, fairies, pixies, boggarts and leprechauns. This week, Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings Part 2 looks at some of the big hitters. Human-sized or greater, if you bump into one of these magical beings on your summer outings, make no mistake, you’ll know exactly who they are and what you’re dealing with.
All of these beings appear in folk tales, legends, myths and fairy tales in Storytime. We’ve provided the issue numbers below, if you’d like to read their specific tales. Lucky for you, you can pick them up from our new, improved Back Issue Shop! (Mel Matthews illustrated the gorgeous dragon above for The Reluctant Dragon in Issue 25.)
Now take care to memorise the details here. They may be helpful if you ever have a close encounter of the magical kind…
Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings Part 2
6. Giants – we never shy away from giants in Storytime. Jack and the Beanstalk stars in Issue 5, Jack the Giant Killer is in Issue 45, Rhitta the Giant is in Issue 43, and the fabulous Finn MacCool features in Issue 7. Plus, we have a whole posse of super-sized thugs in Issue 25‘s The Brave Little Tailor.
Giants are gigantic magical beings and are found all over the world. They have immense strength and can uproot trees but, fortunately, where they have brawn, they lack brains. That said, not all giants are stupid and they don’t all like crunching the bones of Englishmen. Some giants are civilised, friendly and prefer to eat cattle and sheep. Apparently, Gogmagog was Britain’s last giant. He was thrown off the edge of a cliff while doing battle with the Trojan giant slayer, Corineus. Many believe that giants still exist, but think they went into hiding centuries ago. The best place to look for them is in large mountain ranges. However, you can see Molly Whuppie whooping a giant in a future Storytime issue!
7. Trolls – the troll you probably know best appears in The Three Billy Goats Gruff in Storytime Issue 10. We’ve also featured the The Bear and the Trolls in Issue 27 and, unusually, female trolls in Issue 2‘s East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
It seems that trolls bear many similarities to giants. They even have a similar catchphrases: “I smell the blood of Christian men.” As a result, giants and trolls are widely believed to be close relatives. In fact, trolls might be descended from the race of giants from Norse mythology. Trolls are generally big, ugly, hairy and not very bright. They inhabit the remote forests, mountains and caves of Norway and surrounding areas. Trolls can be fearsome, but they have a weakness – exposure to sunlight turns them to stone. There are many interesting rock formations in Norway which are said to be trolls who once got caught in the sun.
8. Dragons – many dragons have graced the pages of Storytime. St George and the Dragon roared into Issue 2, the Chinese myth of The Four Dragons is in Issue 10, Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon starred in Issue 25, there’s an amazing Dragon Queen in Issue 36, and a fantastic Japanese Eight-Headed Dragon in Issue 46.
Depending on where you live, dragons can be benevolent and helpful or princess-kidnapping, treasure-hoarding terrors. Some dragons are wingless or winged. Most dragons have one head, but they can have up to eight! Some breathe fire and others bring rain. However, one thing that every culture agrees on is that dragons are large, scaly serpent-like creatures with four legs. They live in caves, lakes, pools and mountain hideaways, and some live at sea. Incidentally, dragons are one of the wisest and most intelligent magical beings. Should you ever meet one, you can be sure of a good conversation.
Ogres are brutish beings. They are even uglier, hairier, clumsier and more foul-tempered than giants and trolls. They’re greedy and their favourite food is humans. They love nothing better than crunching bones between their teeth. Ogres are smaller than giants but larger than humans and they have an odd skin colour, tinged green or grey. Despite their stupidity, they often live in castles or grand mansions, which they’ve usually taken by force. That said, ogres can transform into any animal. Who’s going to argue with an ogre who can turn into a venomous snake or a deadly crocodile?
Genies are magical beings from the Middle East, where they are better known as jinn or djinn. They are powerful spirits who spend much of their time hiding in dark and mysterious places – not just inside magic lamps. Genies can appear in many different forms, but look mostly wispy and almost smoke-like – as though you could put your hand through one. They’re also fond of bright colours, so don’t be surprised if the genie you meet is bright green or blue. Some genies are more powerful than others, and not all of them grant wishes. If you meet one of these, certainly choose your wishes with caution. Some genies twist your words to cause trouble.
Which one would you like to meet? Or is this latest batch a bit too big and scary for you? If so, check out Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings, Part 1 for smaller and more manageable supernatural sensations.
Has Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings Part 2 inspired you to write a story or get outdoors and go on a troll or dragon hunt? Are there any giant folk tales in your area? What wish would you ask a genie to grant? Can you draw a picture of your favourite magical being so far? Finally, is there one we’ve missed?
Here be dragons!