In this day and age many of us are concerned about how we look– whether we like to admit it or not! Many of the stories in this month’s issue are about how appearances can matter – but also how we shouldn’t necessarily judge a book by its cover! Why not use these stories as a starting point for taking with your child about how appearances can be important, but can also be misleading?
Storytime Issue 67 – Should we judge a book by its cover?
‘Not everything is as it seems’ is a theme in dozens of fairy tales, and The Incredible Crow, with spellbinding illustrations by Benedetta Capriotti is a great example. When three sisters meet a talking crow, the eldest two look down on the disreputable-looking bird, while the youngest sees something special in him. Of course, the youngest is proved right in the end, though I won’t tell you quite how!
However, there is a twist in the tale: along the way, the youngest sister has to look for work in the city while dressed in rags. At first she is looked down on but when she gets given fancy new clothes, she discovers that this gets her unwelcome attention of a different sort! Why not read this story and have a discussion about the good and bad sides of dressing up OR dressing down?
Our cover star of course is Mulan (with epic art by Hana Augustine). This legendary Chinese heroine wanted to protect her family and her country by going to war against invaders but was not permitted to because she was a girl. Her solution? Cut her long hair and putting on her father’s armour!
This story could be an interesting starting point for talking about how we judge people based on their gender or appearance. Why did people assume that Mulan could not be a good warrior because she was a girl, and what was their reaction when they found out that the hero of the war, with the skill and intelligence to help save her country, was female?
The Ape King is a fable about a boastful monkey monarch who orders his subjects put on a grand show to impress visitors to his jungle kingdom – only for one of them to see right through him. With this fun tale (with tropical art by Alessandro Passoli) maybe you could discuss what the Ape King could have done to get the genuine respect of his subjects, rather than just ordering them to bow to him as part of a show?
Everybody likes to choose how they groom themselves – whether they go for style or comfort! But sometimes the style we choose can have serious effects, as Daddy Bear discovers in Daddy Bear’s Hair (with art from the wonderful Giorgia Broseghini). After he wakes up from winter hibernation, he decides to keep his new shaggy coat, even though it frightens his family. Unfortunately, his overlong hair proves too hot and heavy for everyday wear, no matter how he tries to style it!
This story has a lesson for those who stubbornly choose to stick with their fashion choices despite any drawbacks – can you think of anybody like that in your family?
Sir Lancelot’s Quest features the greatest knight of King Arthur’s court going up against a very menacing knight in dark and dented armour. But is this knight actually the ruffian he appears to be? In this case he actually is – showing that sometimes things can be just as they appear! The art by Alejandra Londoño is a particular standout, showing heroes of legend in a fun and funky fashion that would not be out of place in certain popular mobile-phone strategy games!
This issue also has a range of other wonderful stories as well – Edith the Inventor (by the inestimable Helly Douglas, art by Sian Roberts) features a plucky young girl using her creative powers to save a science show. Along the way she has to overcome technical problems and self-doubt, but we can all take inspiration from the can-do attitude she uses to deal with them!
The poem The Clothes Line (by Charlotte Druitt Cole, illustrated by Andrea Galecio) makes laundry day fun. How many stories can you think of where a handkerchief is the hero?
Last but certainly not least we have The Singing Seamstress (art by Lenny Wenn). Like it or not, money is a constant concern in the modern world, but when the heroine of this story is given a sudden windfall by a miser, she discovers that cash can also be a curse. A thought-provoking tale to be sure!
And of course, our Playbox is filled to bursting with new activities – including a tricky tactics game where you get to play as Mulan!
We hope you enjoy this latest issue – and hopefully you will agree that this is one magazine that you can judge by its (rather lovely) cover!