Best ‘Back-to-School’ Books


Have you got your back-to-school reading lined up yet? There’s no better way to prepare for the new school year than with one of these brilliant children’s books!


Parrot Street Book Club co-founder, Sarah Campbell, gives us the lowdown on how fiction can help your child with the transition back to school this September and which chapter books she recommends you reach for first.

As the long summer holidays draw to a close, some of our children may be feeling anxious about the return to school. Whether they’re starting somewhere new or simply moving up to a new class, the transition can be challenging, both academically and emotionally.


Reading can help our children express their feelings…

Reading broadens our children’s vocabulary, which obviously has enormous academic benefits, but also helps improve their emotional literacy too. Reading gives them the language to better express how they are feeling and explore their emotions in a healthy way. Being able to express yourself well also helps build confidence, which is so valuable at this time of year.


And make new friends!

Reading helps our children understand others – it’s crucial in developing a stronger sense of empathy and a host of other social skills. When our children read about a character in a book, they have a response to that character, either positive or negative or something in between, and those responses are great practice for when they meet and react to people in their real lives.

Navigating the complexities of social interaction can be much easier when you’re able to understand other perspectives. Reading is a great way to equip them with the skills they need for interacting with other people in their daily lives.


Read together

Reading together, even once our children are able to read independently, can offer the opportunity to discuss key issues that might be affecting them or making them feel anxious. Books allow our children to explore, question and work things out for themselves. Reading together and talking about what we’ve read can afford both parents and children the perfect opportunity to discuss difficult issues in a safe setting.


Books for back-to-school

If your child is worried or nervous about making the transition into the new school year, here are a few chapter books for kids aged 5 to 11 that we think might help:


Five Ways to Make a Friend by Gillian Cross, illustrated by Sarah Horne

This lovely book follows Ella as she starts at a new school. All she wants to do is find a friend, but it’s really hard. The girls aren’t interested in her and she doesn’t have the courage to just join in… When she finds a book about making friends, Ella decides to try out the tips it recommends. Perfect for 5+.


Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddell

This volume in Chris Riddell’s bestselling and beautifully illustrated series follows Ottoline as she enrols at the Alice B Smith School for the Differently Gifted. Amongst new friends with a host of unique skills and talents, Ottoline sets out to discover her own different gift. Perfect for 7+.


The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter

Aspiring comedian Billy is moving up to secondary school. It’s a challenging time for everyone, but especially for Billy who has a stammer. How will he find his voice, navigate his new school and make new friends, if his voice won’t let him speak? Perfect for 8+.


Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian

This hilarious illustrated chapter book tells the story of Omar, who has just moved into a new house. Starting at his new school is ok, apart from the fact that class bully Daniel tells Omar that because he’s a Muslim, he’s going to be kicked out of the country. But when Omar and Daniel get stranded on a school trip, Omar realises that Danny isn’t so tough after all… Perfect for 8+.


Pie in the Sky by Remi Lai

When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture and making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English. Baking cakes is the only thing he can do to distract himself from the loneliness. This funny and moving story is packed with graphic novel elements. Perfect for 9+.


Parrot Street are an award-winning, book subscription box for 5 to 12 year-olds. We’ve teamed up with Sarah and the team to offer an exclusive discount for Storytime readers. Visit their website here and enter the code STORYTIME15 to receive a 15% discount, valid until the end of September


Happy reading,


The Storytime team

Add Magic to your Holidays!


Add Magic to your Holidays!


It’s the summer holidays! Dreams of endless ice-creams, warm waves, long days and outdoor picnics are on everyone’s minds. Of course kids are excited about being out of school and have all kinds of ideas about what they would like to do to fill up the (hopefully) warm, sunny days.

But after a while, the cries of ‘I’m bored! There’s nothing to DO!” will begin. Blame it on staycation, or on rainy days or simply because … there is a LOT of time to fill up! Summer is the time to go on adventures and make memories that will last a lifetime, and stories can provide great inspiration for fun activities.

Reading stories is great for bedtime and rainy days, but we also want stories to inspire our readers to get out and play! We have been digging for treasure in our archives and have found some great tales that inspire all kinds of fun summer activities…


1. Time for a Treasure Hunt! – ‘Alfie the Pirate’ (Storytime #30)

A little bit of imagination can transform an ordinary experience into something magical! Alfie proves this when he creates his own adventure in his backyard, and creates his own tale of action and adventure. Where would your kids like to go today? To a far-off land, a magical kingdom, or a distant planet?

Activity idea: Choose a theme for your adventure! Draw a treasure map of your home or garden and hide some special treats for the kids to find along the way. Make sure to come up with cool names and ideas for imaginary creatures and obstacles they might encounter on the way!


2. Go wild! – ‘The Selfish Giant’ (Storytime #28)

Parks are great places to explore – and they are even more fun with friends! This is what the giant discovers in Oscar Wilde’s classic tale, after all! Most parks have awesome playgrounds but don’t forget to explore the woodlands or the ponds nearby.

Activity idea: Why not take the kids on an impromptu wilderness expedition? Prepare a picnic and a little backpack with special “tools and toys” for the adventure. This way the day will feel like an expedition and when everyone is tired, you can set camp and share some yummy food!


3. Make a splash! – ‘Moon River Melody’ (Storytime #71)

There’s nothing like a swim on a hot summer day, as the Pied Piper learns when the Little Mermaid call for help! Beaches and public pools can be brilliant, but there are other options. A paddling pool or even a nice cool bath are refreshing too (can be great fun), especially if there are toys to play with.

Activity idea: If you don’t have a handy place to go swimming, why not visit some swimming friends at the local pond? Bring some bread, peas, sweetcorn and birdseed for the ducks and ducklings and other water birds! Imagine what life would be like if you were a duckling and make up stories about their adventures.


4. Visit animal friends from distant lands! – ‘Alphabet Zoo’ (Storytime #29-45)

Going to a zoo or city farm is educational and exciting! Our ‘Alphabet Zoo’ poems are all about the wonderful animals that can be found there. You can spot them in alphabetical order too – it can be really great fun reading the poems out loud! How many of the animals from the poems can you spot at the zoo?

Activity idea: Learning about animals is great fun! Why not print out some copies of the animal data card that you can download from HERE and write down the things you find out about them from the information posters at the zoo?


5. Travel through time! – ‘Away Game!’ (Storytime #78)

In this story, Lincoln and his friends go back in time and play football with some kids from the Middle Ages. We haven’t invented a time machine (yet!), but going to a museum or nearby historical place can be the next best thing! Kids can learn about what life was like in older times, and can imagine what their life would have been like if they live there and then! It’s exciting and educational – and a real time-travelling holiday adventure!

Activity idea: Make your time-trip even more fun by dressing up in costumes! The costumes can match the adventure and make it all more real! Kids can really bring history to life by pretending to speak and act as if they are really from a past era!


Whatever you do, we hope you have a great summer break, and do let us know what you get up to in the comments below!

Happy holidays,


The Storytime team

Storytime Issue 84 Out Now!


Stories are all about characters who take risks. After all, how interesting is a tale about someone who just stays somewhere safe and watches videos all day? This month’s is full stories about people who go in search of adventure – or are forced to take chances against their will!


Storytime Issue 84 – Taking Chances

Hans-My-Hedgehog is an absolutely charming fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm about a little boy who was born with hedgehog spines. He was brought up on a nice safe farm, but chooses to go and make his own way in the world, having faith that his good manners and sharp spines will protect him. Aleksei Zhdanov captures the wonder and whimsy of the story with his gorgeous illustrations.


Another classic story about a boy deciding to go outside their comfort zone in search of adventure is The Second Voyage of Sinbad. The intrepid adventurer leaves his luxurious home to sail into the unknown – and gets more than he bargained for! Pol Cunyat did an amazing job bringing the rocs, elephants and giant serpents the sailor encounters to life!


‘Prequels’ to well-known stories are popular these days, and we are excited to bring you the origin story of the world’s most famous legendary magician. Merlin and the Red Dragon is about how young Merlin (or ‘Myrddin’, in Welsh) met the warrior-king Vortigern. Many youngsters would have been afraid to meet such an important ruler, but not Myrddin! He was brave and courageous in his challenge, and told Vortigern about the dragons that battle beneath a hill – and what their struggle portends for Britain. The art is by the talented Werllen Holanda.


Of course, we can take chances in the modern day too! Guille Rancel did phenomenal work illustrating a timely tale called Gemma Levels Up. At the beginning of the summer holidays, Gemma was keen to get some gaming in, but is whisked away on a camping trip by her aunt and uncle instead. Let’s just say that she discovers that camping can be hard work – but fun, too!


I’m sure you know somebody that absolutely hates getting their hair cut! They might well identify with the hero of our short bedtime story, Billy Gets a Haircut, which features art by the redoubtable Giorgia Broseghini. William Gruff (of ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ fame) is hot and sweaty because of his long hair. But when he meets a fellow named Rumpelstiltskin who needs a blanket, he decides to overcome his fears and get a trim… After all, getting a new look is also taking a chance!


Sometimes, we can find ourselves in a risky situation against our will. This is what happens to a flock of doves in our fable, Strength In Unity, when they get trapped in a hunter’s net. Luckily, the king of the doves has a plan and some friends in town that can help. Dany Alvarez captures the feathery fun in her art.


For a real-life example of how taking chances can change the world, look no further than this month’s Amazing Adventure – Star Boy! The artist Veronica Carratello illustrated the tale of a boy called David who rejects a life in boring grey suburbia to follow his dreams of becoming a rock star. All the chances he took paid off in the end – and we hope you can hum a David Bowie song after reading his wonderful story!


Although taking chances can open us up to new experiences and help us grow as people, taking silly risks is not a good idea! That’s the lesson learned by the hero of the Irish folk tale Yellow Lily. A brash prince gambles against a giant and loses. He is made to do a series of seemingly impossible tasks in return, but luckily finds help from an unexpected source. Luminous art by Adam Pekalski makes this story into something special. We brought this story to life in our Storybox section and you can try to play Brandubh using the board on page 48!


We hope you always take your chances and go on to have some amazing adventures this summer! May our lovely folks in this issue inspire you to be brave, curious and most importantly, to have fun along the way! After all fun makes all journeys worth it!
See you all next month!

A Summer of Stories


A Summer of Stories!


Ah, Summer! It’s a time for outdoor adventures in the park, trips to the seaside, and making sunny memories that will last a lifetime. Keep some issues of Storytime by your side for when you’re lazing around in the shade and you are guaranteed the best Summer ever! Here is our countdown of some of our favourite Summery things… and the stories you can read about them!


7. Seagulls

Well, they’re not our favourite thing in the world, but they certainly make eating a treat on the beach a lot more exciting! Emily Cooper’s ‘The Seaside Scallywags’ from Storytime #47 is a story all about a seagull called Sidney who loves scavenging for your ice creams and hot chips!


6. Sunshine

We should get plenty of it this year – and sometimes it’s possible to get too much sun! For a reminder of how lovely and comforting the sun is to us all, read ‘The Wind and the Sun’ from Storytime #12. Like the boy in the story, we can’t help but smile and take our coats off when touched by those lovely warm rays…


5. Mermaids

Well, we can’t guarantee that you will actually see any mermaids at the beach this Summer! But imagining the lovely undersea life these creatures lead is a great way to add some magic to a seaside holiday. We have featured many mermaid tales, including ‘The Little Mermaid’ (Storytime #24), ‘Melusine’s Mystery’ (Storytime #48) and ‘The Mermaid and the Boy’ (Storytime #70). Enjoy these stories about how it’s better down where it’s wetter!


4. Seashells

There are so many of them, and no two are alike. Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote a lovely poem called ‘Minnie and Winnie’, about two little girls who use a seashell as a bed. Check it out in Storytime #23


3. Sandcastles

You haven’t really been to the beach unless you have built a sandcastle… which was then washed away by the tide. (Never mind, you can build another one tomorrow.) For inspiration, read ‘The Sandcastle’ from Storytime #48!


2. Staycations

If you can’t get away this summer, remember that going on holiday is a state of mind! In ‘Tom Thumb’s Teeny Holiday”, from Storytime #60, our little hero has a fun summer holiday in his neighbourhood. Why not try out a mini-vacation in a park or garden? All you need is some treats, an umbrella, and a towel to lie on!


1. Playgrounds

Even if you aren’t going to the beach or embarking on a camping trip, a playground is a world of fun – and there are plenty of other kids to play with, too! ‘Playgrounds’ by Laurence Alma-Tadema in Storytime #46, is a all about the wonders that you can find there. School is off and you can play all summer long!


We hope that these stories will inspire you to enjoy this summer in full – wherever you are! All we need to make it perfect is a little bit of sunshine and a good story! We can help with the latter. Join our adventures and don’t forget your sunscreen! Happy Summer of stories everyone!


Happy reading,


The Storytime team

Storytime Issue 83 Out Now!


This month we would like to give you a ‘peek behind the scenes’ and talk about how we created the latest issue of Storytime. We hope you find this blog and the magazine interesting!


Storytime Issue 83 – Ready for Action!

The first thing you’ll notice when you rip open the envelope is the cover star. He’s the title character in the tale of The Monkey King. This story is adapted from the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, and to say that this story is influential is an understatement! The story of Monkey and his friends is hundreds of years old, and it has inspired a popular TV series, the Dragonball cartoon, a series of Lego sets and even a rock opera by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewitt. Capturing that special ‘monkey magic’ was a challenge, but illustrator Hugo Cuellar did a spectacular job of bringing action, humour and colour to this epic. He gave us a fresh but faithful take on Monkey, his friends, and the strange creatures that they encountered!


The Chariot Race was submitted to us by Amanda Brandon, and we leaped at the chance to publish it. Kids are taught about the Roman era as part of the history curriculum, and it makes a great setting for stories. Amanda did excellent research, and also gave us relatable characters and thrilling action. Artists Ernest Sala and Mado Peña provided amazing visuals of a bygone time and rendered characters that we can care about and relate to. And if your kids are inspired by the excitement of chariot racing, they should definitely try the boardgame on page 48. It’s full of Roman-style thrills and spills!


Nadia, Who Dreamed of Flying! is set in more recent times and our nod to the Summer Olympics! It is about the childhood of famed gymnast Nadia Comăneci, and we could even use her own autobiography as reference when telling her story. Illustrator Roberta Bordone was able to watch TV footage of Nadia winning gold with a legendary ‘perfect 10’ performance at the 1968 Olympics. Our team at Storytime tells a story that will hopefully grip young readers while staying true to the athlete’s legacy.


The Sister of the Sun is a classic fairy tale with many tried-and-true ingredients: a young hero on a quest, a cunning fox companion, and wicked but easily fooled giants. We decided to give it a modern twist by commissioning Kim Zavesky to illustrate it. Kim brought a modern, slightly comic-bookish feel to the story which we hope you will like!


We love fables here at Storytime, and The Elephant Who Lost her Patience is a great one! It’s about a talkative ant who decides to take up residence in an elephant’s ear and won’t shut up! I’m sure that we can all identify with how that poor elephant must feel… Artist Azbeen livens up the story with fresh, fun artwork.


There is a craze for all things Scandinavian these days, from TV programmes to interiors, so you shall not be surprised that we have included a Scandi summer story in this issue. The Sea Lord’s Gift is a sweet folk tale from Finland about an elderly couple who live in a tiny shack on a little island and receive a magnificent cow from a certain powerful being. Eleonora de Pieri did the most wonderful job mixing whimsy and wonder in the artworks!


The next story takes us Down Under, for a legend set in the mythical Dreamtime before humans came to Australia. The Great Drought stars many of our favourite Australian animals, who try to solve an ecological crisis by getting a greedy frog to laugh. Artist Dnepwu was faced with the task of drawing a dozen different animals with varied personalities, and needless to say we were ecstatic with the results. One thing you will notice is that some of the creatures use modern items like bush hats or electric fans. We discussed this artistic choice at length, and decided to go with it as it made the animals relatable and added some extra humour!


When coming up with new bedtime stories, we like to set each other creative challenges! This month, the challenge was to come up with a fun story featuring Cinderella’s siblings. The Step-Sisters imagines what life is like for the twosome after Cinderella moves out. We won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say that it has a positive message about how good it is to get exercise! Giorgia Broseghini has been providing illustrations for us for our short stories and modern fairytale, and her work on this story is up to her usual impeccable standards.


We hope you enjoyed these little insights into how we created this issue. There’s a lot of research and attention in every issue – so we would love to know which story was your favourite this month. Let us know below. And that is it from us today! Happy reading!

Teaching with Stories!


Teaching with Stories!


Storytime is a big hit with families, but it is also popular with schools all over the world! Our colourful issues contain stories aimed at a variety of reading levels and cover a wide range of subjects and themes, which gives them broad appeal. Teachers also find that the magazine format is also less intimidating for reluctant readers than a traditional book.


We have received awesome feedback from the schools that subscribe to Storytime, and some teachers have even sent us tips about how they use the magazine in the classroom! We liked their feedback so much that we are sharing some of their ideas here – and we have also compiled them in a document you can download and share.


There is definitely more than one way to read Storytime! Trying out these tips will make classes more fun – and give you new ideas about how to add variety to catch-up with reading this summer.


Guided Reading

This is where the child reads a story they choose to themselves, but a grownup is nearby. You can ask them to read a paragraph or two out loud, and also help them with any difficult words they might encounter. It’s a great homework exercise, and can also be done during reading breaks. This exercise gives kids the confidence to try reading more challenging stories – and increase their vocabulary in the process!

At home: This approach is great when you want to help and encourage your children, but can’t give them 100% of your attention.


Shared reading

This is the classic ‘storytime’ situation, where you read a tale to them. This is a nice way to introduce children to stories they have not read before. Sharing a story in this way is a great bonding experience – even in the classroom. Let them interact with the story by showing them the illustrations and letting them ask questions. You can even add an imaginative/creative element to the experience by encouraging them to come up with their own endings!

At home: There’s nothing like a bedtime-story experience. If you are doing it in the evening, make sure to choose calming and positive stories to give the little ones sweet dreams.


1-to-1 reading

This is similar to shared reading, but you encourage the kids to read along with you. Ideal for beginning or reluctant readers! Reading along with a child is a great way to build confidence and a love of stories. Don’t let shyness stop them from reading – if you sense they are having difficulties with a word or two, you can join in and make sure they can get going again. A supportive exercise that is also great fun!

At home: Do this with siblings and cousins and make it a family game!


Peer-to-peer reading

If children with different reading levels around, they can read to each other and help each other out with any tricky words or phrases! This is a good way for children to share their knowledge and support each other. Plus, it is sure to spark discussions about what things mean or what might happen next! Children can take turns choosing their favourite stories. We’ve put together a Reading Buddies guided reading pack that you can use for your school here.

At home: If you have two or more children around, it’s a good pastime to keep them engaged and have them entertain each other. An excellent friends and sibling-bonding activity!


Independent reading Do you have reading breaks at your school? This is where a child picks a story and reads it on their own, with no tests, no deadlines and no instructions! It’s a lovely way to introduce children to the pleasure of a good story. Reading breaks are now a standard activity in many schools around the country, and are great at encouraging kids to become enthusiastic readers!

At home: It is lovely for a child to be able to relax and read independently after a busy day at school. Parents can share this ‘quiet time’ by reading a book of their own. It is a great reminder that reading can be a pleasurable and relaxing activity!


Reading for fun is the best way to fall in love with the habit of reading! We created Storytime to make reading enjoyable for everyone, and can think of many more ways to share stories in the classroom and at home. As a parent, carer or a teacher, what are your favourite ways to read Storytime? Let us know below in the comments. And of course, a BIG thank-you to all of the teachers who shared their tips with us!


Happy reading,


The Storytime team

Storytime Issue 82 Out Now!


In the pages of Storytime, heroes come in all shapes and sizes! We have mighty heroes and heroines, plucky kids, and even supernatural beings, but our favourite stories are probably those that feature amazing animals! That’s why this month’s issue was a special treat for us!


Storytime Issue 82 – Lions and Tigers and Lizards, Oh My!

The cover star is Sanka, star of A Tiger’s Journey. She, her mother and brother live in the forests of Siberia, but are forced to go looking for a new home when loggers begin destroying their environment. We did our best to capture an animal’s point of view and take you on a real tiger’s journey – and as you can see, artist Chloe Chang did an absolutely incredible job bringing Sanka and her forest to life.


Another big cat stars in this month’s fable, The Lion in Love. The wonderful Fabiana Faiallo illustrates this story of a lion who gets a makeover to impress his special someone – but learns how that you should stray true to who you really are. Like the very best fables, it is a lot of fun, but makes you think at the same time.


Uletka and the White Lizard may have an animal in the title – but once you read it, you will see that there is more to that reptile than meets the eye! The story is a wonderful fairy tale about a girl on the run from the evil fairy who turned her mother into a water lily blossom, and Victoria Starskaia has sprinkled the art with a little bit of her own enchantment…


Animals come to rescue in our bedtime story too! It’s the time of year where we feel like doing a bit of spring cleaning… but tidying up the house leads to an unexpected mishap in Thumbelina’s Sneeze, illustrated by Storytime favourite Giorgia Broseghini! When the tiny heroine finds herself far from home, she has to ask a toad, a mole and a swallow for help getting home.


In our Around the World Tale, the golden boy Kintaro’s life is transformed by a friendship with animals. He is a famous character in Japanese folklore and possesses the strength and costume of a true superhero. He has plays in the woods with his friends – but his strength will not go unnoticed. Ivan Barrera does a wonderful job of bringing this tale to life.


Would a fantastic creature count as an animal? We Watch out for the one guarding the Golden Fleece! In our Myths and Legends, we have a whole lot of Ancient Greek heroes teaming up to fulfil an epic quest! Santi Salas illustrates Jason and the Argonauts with some lovely details! It’s the superstar team-up mythology fans have been waiting for waiting for…


We have to admit that not ALL of this month’s stories feature animal – but we’re sure you won’t mind! Fabio Mancini captures the fun and whimsy of The Magic Mirror, a Spanish story about how a king looks for love using the powers of a barber’s mystical mirror. As you might expect, it’s a tale with a lesson to teach about how appearances can be deceptive!


Have you ever wondered how things are built? This month’s final story is sure to inspire any child interested in STEM subjects. Artist Arianna Bellucci puts her own special touch on The Junkyard Genius. It’s the true story of William Kamkwamba, a teenager from Malawi who taught himself electrical engineering and built an electricity-generating windmill from scrap! We hope this story makes you want to find out more about William and his achievements.


We hope this issue will inspire our readers in more than one way! Let us know below which story was your favourite this month!

Storytime – Online!


Introducing Storytime Hub!


Here at Storytime, we love to bring our readers good classic stories to enjoy. However, we are always looking into new ways to bring these stories to you, and with the current global situation, we appreciate that it is more important than ever for parents, teachers, children and pupils to be able to access fun reading material anywhere at any time.


We’re therefore delighted to announce that our shiny new Storytime Hub is now live!


With Storytime Hub, we have made our extensive catalogue of over 700 stories and 80 home learning packs accessible digitally for teachers and parents to use all over the world for the first time.


It contains every magazine and story we have ever published, and it’s fully searchable – so if there is an out-of-stock back issue that you just haven’t been able to get hold of, or you want to get hold of every story we’ve ever written featuring dragons – now you can! Plus every month we’ll be loading up each new issue of Storytime as it goes on sale.


There are a range of subscription options available – families can have digital only access, or even receive a printed issue alongside it every month (we know that many of our readers are thrilled when they receive their freshly-printed issues in the post!).


Our school subscription options also include extra logins for pupils so that they can read along with stories in the classroom or even access them remotely from home. We understand that sadly so many children have fallen behind with their reading over the past year, so Storytime Hub is a great, very low-cost way to help children catch up with their reading this summer. We’ve also included every single home learning pack we’ve ever produced, one to accompany each issue of the magazine, each containing lesson ideas, comprehension exercises and awesome activities.


We hope that Storytime Hub will give kids more opportunities to enjoy our content in the way that suits parents, carers and educators. To find out more, follow this link, and if you have any questions do feel free to get in touch with the team at


This is only the beginning for Storytime Hub – we have big plans for it which we will be unveiling in the near future, including something very special that our readers have been asking about for a very long time….


Stay tuned, have fun and keep reading!


The Storytime team

Storytime Issue 81 Out Now!


One of the most exciting experiences in life is to discover something new! The latest issue of Storytime is all about that special thrill.


Storytime Issue 81 – The Thrill of Discovery

In our cover story, a young girl named Pippa goes on an underwater adventure and discovers (or is discovered by) The Big Green Kraken. This friendly mythological monster does his best to care for the oceans and the planet – and is pleased to learn that Pippa and her friends want to do their bit to protect the environment. Artist Dyru did an absolutely brilliant job capturing the two lead characters and the magic ocean around them.

This story is also special as it reveals the winning letter of our Letter to Planet Earth competition! We hope you like it!


Continuing the theme of discovery is The Bone Hunter – the story of real-life fossil-hunter Mary Anning. The art, by the redoubtable Miriam Serafin, transports us back to the early nineteenth century, when little Mary helped her father find ammonites and fossilised bones in the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast. Mary’s discoveries helped change the way we think about life on Earth!


Not all discoveries are so profound, of course! Giorgia Broseghini had a lovely time illustrating Hook’s Island, the tale of what happens when Captain Hook (of Peter Pan fame) gets trapped on a tropical island with a crocodile! is thrilled to learn that surfing is more fun than pirating – especially if a crocodile lets you use them as a surfboard!


River-dwelling reptiles also feature in our Indian tale, The King of Crocodiles. A farmer’s daughter is promised in marriage to the muddy monarch of the title, but discovers that appearances can be deceptive, and there is more to her husband than meets the eye. Rogério Coelho adds his own magic to this enchanting tales with his illustrations.


Rosanella is a classic French fairy tale about twelve betwitching maidens – who all have the same rose shaped birthmark as a kidnapped princess. A charming prince who was determined to never fall in love learns about the maidens and himself when he finds himself falling for the lovely ladies. Valeria Abatzoglu is the artist behind the beautiful illustrations for his tale.


The Wasps and the Bees is a first for us, because it is a thrilling courtroom drama with a sting in the tail! Matteo Gaggia loves drawing insects, so it’s not surprising that he did a fantastic job on the art. When the wasps and the bees disagree about who owns a honeycomb, it’s up to a hornet judge to discover the truth. Who do you think it belongs to?


The Raspberry Worm takes us to the forests of Finland! The talented Beatriz Mayumi provides the illustrations for the story of two sisters who get lost in the woods – but find help from an unexpected source. You’ll have to read the story to discover who they were thrilled to meet!


Our final story this month is a classic tale of adventure. In fact, you could argue that it is the earliest ‘action blockbuster’ in the English language, and it is even on the UK’s KS2 curriculum! The redoubtable Rowena Aitken brings new life to Beowulf and Grendel, the story of a brave hero who goes hunting for a bothersome monster – and discovers that the beast’s mother is even more formidable!


We hope you enjoy discovering the wonders of this month’s issue. Let us know which one you were thrilled to discover below…

What Shall We Talk About Today?


What Shall We Talk About Today?


Talking to each other is a wonderful thing! It gives us a chance to share perspectives and experiences and helps bring us closer together.

You might have discovered, however, that it can be hard to find new things to talk about when you have been together for a long time, like in the past few months during lockdown or sometimes on a rainy holiday somewhere. That can happen when we can’t go out and do new things and spend a lot of time with each other in the same environment!

But why not make the most of these times and talk about things that matter and find out what everyone thinks about new topics. When it comes to conversation-starters, it’s hard to beat a good story. Here are some ideas from our past issues to start some great conversations.


Away Game! (Storytime #78) is a fun story about three boys who accidentally travel back in time to the Middle Ages – and play a pick-up game of football! They go back in time on the same village they live in – and can recognise some parts of it but are also surprised by other the aspects they did not know. After reading this tale, why not discuss the history of your neighbourhood, and what life would have been like there 50 (or 500!) years ago? Are there any buildings, landmarks or that date back hundreds of years and give an insight into its history? For extra fun, look for old photographs of your area. Which bits are still the same, and which have changed beyond all recognition?


Not a Robot (Storytime #53) stars a robot who is activated after a power cut – and is found to have a personality of his own! This story could start a discussion about the roles that smart machines are having in our day-to-day lives! We don’t yet robots walking down the streets (yet!), but ‘smart’ programmes are responding to our voice commands and helping us to pick which online videos to watch. Researchers are developing programmes to drive our vehicles and pilot flying delivery drones – and what will happen after that?


Mr Luck and Mrs Luck (Storytime #57) is a classic fable about the two characters of the title. As you might have guessed, Mr Luck relies on fortune, while Mrs. Luck puts in hard work. Why not read it and then have a chat about which is more important if you want to achieve things? Here at Storytime, we believe that luck can have an effect on our lives – but pluck is far more important in the long run!


Mulan (Storytime #67) is a very old story – but it is still relevant to us today. Mulan was a girl who wanted to help her family, even if it meant going off to war in disguise! This is a great tale to begin a conversation about what women have achieved in their fight for more career opportunities – and the challenges they still face.


Why Whales Swim in the Sea (Storytime #23) is set in a place that few people have heard of – and even fewer people have visited! It’s a legend from Patagonia – a beautiful but desolate area at the southern end of South America. Stories like this one are fun to read, but they also teach us things about distant parts of the world, as well as the people and animals that live there. Reading a story set in a distant place with someone is a great way to go on an imaginative journey together. After reading it, discuss what you learned about the story’s setting, look at the map to spot some new places and even wonder what animals live there now!


We hope you enjoy sharing a cup of tea and a good talk with the ones you love! Can you think of a story that you have read which sparked an interesting conversation? If so, let us know about it below!