Storytime Issue 80 Out Now!

Storytime Issue 80 Out Now

This month’s inspirational issue of Storytime is all about being clever and creative. Each story is about someone who makes something new or comes up with original solutions.

Storytime Issue 80 –  Getting Creative
Stories about clever ‘trickster’ animals are favourites around the world, and The Rabbit and the King of Beasts is a fine example! Artist Mike Bonales illustrates this Native American tale about the plucky rabbit’s attempts to escape the feathery and ferocious King of the Beasts, using his wits rather than his strength. Perhaps we can all learn something from this clever bunny?

In Shadow Puppets, the emperor of China is heartbroken when he loses his wife. One of his advisors comes up with a brilliant idea: using shadow-puppets to tell stories that remind the emperor of his beloved. It’s a beautiful and heartfelt story, made all the more touching by Pham Quang Phuc’s lovely art.

The princess in The Frog’s Choir has a particular problem with noisy frogs in her garden – but rather than getting mad, she comes up with a smart musical solution! Giorgia Broseghini has great fun capturing the princess and the green amphibians in her colourful art. Could we take inspiration from the princess when it comes to solving the problem of noisy neighbours?

The hero of Aztec legend The Creation of the Sun faces a rather bigger problem than noisy frogs. Evil spirits have extinguished the sun, bringing to an eternal night and winter to the world. He goes on a great quest to create a new sun! The illustrations are by the redoubtable Guilherme Franco, who really does justice to the epic adventure.

Not all clever ideas work out as intended! A colourful and creative teacher finds this out when she uses her experimental fertiliser on a class garden in The Peabody Experiment. Sara Mauri’s pictures capture the chaos that follows – we won’t spoil the surprise, but it does involve a lot of pumpkins… 

Horses often feature in fairy tales, most often as mounts for the hero or heroine. The Magician’s Horse is somewhat unusual because it stars a resourceful stallion who comes up with a clever plan to escape from a wicked sorcerer. The art by Romanovsky Diaz brings the characters to life in colourful fashion.

Our Awesome Adventures tale for this issue about one of the greatest artists and inventors of all time. The World According to Leo is about the childhood of Leonardo da Vinci, who created art and inventions that still amaze us today. Alberto Badalamenti take us to Italy in this fun and inspiring tale.

Being creative doesn’t always lead to a happy ending, of course! Elena Aiello had a great time illustrating our fable, The Grasshopper and the Owl, about an insect who thinks he is a musical genius. Not everyone agrees, though… but you will have to read it to find out what happens!

Have any tales inspired you to come up with new ideas or solutions to problems? We are not short of tales to inspire you, so keep reading everyone!

The Power Of Telling Stories 

What’s our Superpower?

You have probably noticed that this blog has begun with a strange question! As human beings, what is our superpower? Is it our intelligence? Perhaps, but there are plenty of other clever creatures out there, from whales and octopi to parrots and chimps.

As the editor of Storytime, I spend a lot of time thinking about stories. In fact, I have a theory that is telling stories is actually what makes humans special. That might sound a bit absurd, because other creatures can communicate too. However, as far as we know, humans are the only creatures that can tell long and elaborate tales – which are a very effective way of passing along knowledge and wisdom. 

What better way is there to make this point than by telling a story? 

A member of my family is an anthropologist who works for a global health organisation. His job is to teach people all over the world better health practices. One of his projects was to teach good hand-washing techniques (and this was well before COVID-19 broke out!)

One day he carefully and logically explained how to wash your hands to a class of kids. They understood what he was saying, nodded along politely. However, when he came back a week later, they still weren’t washing their hands in the way he had told them.

At first he felt frustrated, but then he had a think. He might have given the kids the facts, but had he really connected with them? 

The next time he spoke to the kids, he told them a story about the Porcupine, and how he stopped all of the other animals in the forest from getting sick by showing them how to clean their paws. This story made the kids’ faces light up, and from that day on they washed their hands very well indeed. 

Why had his story worked so well, when just logically stating facts had failed? That is because stories work on more than one level. They contain information, but they also engage with our emotions so that we can relate to what is being said.

Here at Storytime, we love different stories from all over the world, and some of them are very old indeed. These stories have lasted because they and the lessons they teach resonate with us today. Think of the story of the Trojan Horse, from Storytime #49 – we all know that it is wise to be suspicions of strange gifts, but it is more compelling when part of a stirring tale.

We might all know that it is not a good thing to give in to worries over something that might never happen – but the characters in the story of Henny Penny (Storytime #19) bring it to life and make us laugh along.

Or consider the message of The Midas Touch, from Storytime #8. We may understand that getting what we want might have unwelcome consequences, but the story makes it much more immediate and relatable. We suddenly understand WHY it might be so!

As humans, telling stories helps us to pass on our knowledge and wisdom – and bonds us as people. Why not take the time to tell your story to someone and then listen as they tell you theirs? It might be a child who wants to tell you about their day at the park, or a grandparent reminiscing about times past. Using our superpower can be a wonderful thing!