For the last couple of weeks our bedtime stories have come from Magic Beans: A Handful of Fairy Tales from the Storybag. This is an anthology of tales, some well known (Rapunzel), others less so (Cockadoodle-doo, Mr Sultana!) told by a rich choir of voices. You can choose from Anne Fine, Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman, Philip Pullman, Alan Garner and Michael Morpurgo amongst others – it’s rather like being in a sweetie shop, trying to decide which story to savour each evening.
As if that wasn’t enough, each tale is accompanied by black and white illustrations from wonderful illustrators including Ian Beck, Debi Gliori, Nick Sharratt and James Mayhew. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
The selection of stories really is super. They vary in content and style, and as you’d expect from master storytellers, these retellings are wonderful to read together, aloud or alone. My personal favourite is Tony Mitton’s The Seal Hunter, told entirely in rhyme.
And although the stories are what really matters I have to admit that the book itself was a slight disappointment; it promised so very much with its stellar cast of authors and illustrators, but the physical production of the book didn’t mirror the quality of what was contained within. The black and white illustrations are rather meagre, and bleed right to the edge of the page, giving the edge of the book a rather scruffy look. Perhaps I shouldn’t complain as the stories are so lovely, and we’ve had so much fun reading them together, but I can’t help feeling this book could have been one of the stars in the Christmas firmament had it been a little more beautifully produced.
M herself came up with the idea that the stories we read each night were like magic beans – planted at bedtime, by the morning they had grown into something else, something new in M’s head as she played out the story and made it her own. This gave me the idea of making some magic beans which really would grow in to stories so I made a little pouch and filled it with dried butter beans I’d painted gold. On each bean I wrote a single word.
One morning the girls came down to find this purse on the table.
They opened it up, chose three magic beans and planted them with a wish.
The next morning they came down to see whether the magic had worked, and lo and behold…
…the beans had grown into stories based on the three words on the beans.
And once the stories were read and laughed over, three new magic beans were chosen to plant with the wish for more stories next breakfast time.
It’s been a magical week reading new stories together over breakfast!
Whilst I prepared the magic beans, and the girls later planted them, we listened to:
Other activities you could be inspired to get up to having read Magic Beans include:
What’s the fairy story you last read? Can you recommend any illustrated fairy story anthologies you think are exceptionally special?
Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. This review, however, reflect my own and honest opinion.