Story Teller (magazine)

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Story Teller (sold as Story Time in Australia and New Zealand) was a magazine partwork published by Marshall Cavendish between 1982 and 1985.

Publishing history[edit]

The original collection[edit]

The original Story Teller was released from December 1982 and throughout 1983 as a fortnightly partwork. Each magazine contained a selection of children's stories, some traditional folk tales like "Anansi the Spiderman", some classic children's tales such as Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat, and some contemporary works written especially for the series, like "Timbertwig". Most issues contained a poem or two, as well. The stories were accompanied by lavish colour artwork, and inside each issue was an offer to purchase custom made binders for the magazine as well as cases to hold the tapes. Each issue of Story Teller came with a cover-mounted cassette tape containing a reading of the stories, complete with music and sound effects. What set Story Teller apart from other partworks was the stories were read by professional actors and celebrities of the time, including Richard Briers, Sheila Hancock, Derek Jacobi, and Nigel Lambert.

Two distinguishing features of the audio cassettes were the "Story Teller" jingle that introduced and ended each tape and the characteristic "ping" that sounded when the time came to turn the pages to encourage children to read along. The "Story Teller" jingle is an existing track called "Children's Carnival" by Ted Atking and Alain Feanch.[1][2]

Longer stories were split over multiple issues to encourage parents to buy the next issue. These were referred to as Story Teller Serials. As one serial came to end, another would start. Many of these would be simple two-part stories, but a selection of stories (usually classics such as Peter Pan and the Wizard of Oz) were spread over several issues. Pinocchio was the longest serial, with seven installments.

The original collection was 26 issues long with each tape lasting up to 45 minutes. An exception was issue 26, which was 90 minutes long because it also contained the special preview issue for Story Teller 2, which immediately followed the original series.

(The New Zealand and Australian Story Time only ran for 1 series, so the final Issue 26 was the standard 45 minutes long and did not feature the special preview for the next series. This was the sole difference between its UK counterpart; the cassettes and artwork were otherwise identical. Similarly, the cassette carry case was available in Australia. However, in New Zealand, a smaller box was provided, made out of cardboard wrapped in a red plastic with small domes at the corners joining it all together and a piece of Velcro for the flap on the top).

Storyteller 2[edit]

Story Teller 2, which was previewed in issue 26 of the original Story Teller series in the UK, continued the tradition of the original by combining traditional, classic, and contemporary children's stories. (In New Zealand and Australia, Story Time only ran for 1 series.)

Little Story Teller[edit]

When Story Teller 2 ended, Marshall Cavendish followed it up with another 26-part series, Little Story Teller, which, as its title suggests, was aimed at a younger audience than the original series. Many of the stories in Little Story Teller featured the adventures of the inhabitants of the Magic Mountain, which included Leroy the Lion, Dotty the Dragon, and Morris and Doris the hamsters.

Christmas specials[edit]

Three Christmas specials were also published. Released annually along with each series, the Christmas Story Tellers featured festive stories and even songs. The third Christmas Story Teller included stories suited to both the original series and Little Story Teller. Of the Christmas specials only Christmas Story 2 was made available in New Zealand or Australia, under the title of Christmas Story Time.

Story Teller Song Book[edit]

Christmas Story 3 was widely assumed to be the last title from the Story Teller series but in 1986, Marshall Cavendish released the Story Teller Song Book. The 52-page publication contained 20 all-time sing-along favourites rather than stories but it still retained the Story Teller tradition of featuring colouring and activity pages as well as an accompanying cassette tape.

"Story Teller All Grown Up"[edit]

This controversial misstep from Marshall Cavendish was intended for release in 1987. It was to have included more adult stories, such as "The Story of O" and "Fanny Hill". The first issue was released, but outrage ensued as many parents had not anticipated this was not intended for children. As a result, the series was pulled after just one issue and led to the banning of all magazines in Tumbridge Wells.

My Big Book of Fairy Tales[edit]

In 1987, Marshall Cavendish revisited the world of Story Teller by publishing a big hardback book called My Big Book of Fairy Tales. Although the publication lacked the Story Teller branding, it was essentially a compilation of the best stories from Story Teller; it contained 73 stories from the two series and three Christmas issues. The original text and illustrations were used, except for the story "The Frog Prince", which featured new artwork (for no apparent reason). The book was rereleased in 1989 with a different cover and again in 1994. Unlike the partwork, My Big Book of Fairy Tales was not accompanied by a cassette.

Availability[edit]

The partwork is now regarded as highly collectible, and issues can still be found today in secondhand and charity shops, but finding a complete set can be very difficult. Digital copies can also be found on auction sites such as eBay, but these are of dubious legality.[citation needed]

Stories and readers[edit]

Story Teller 1[edit]

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Part 19

Part 20

Part 21

Part 22

Part 23

Part 24

Part 25

Part 26

Part 26 Story Teller 2 Special Preview Issue

Story Teller 2[edit]

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Part 19

Part 20

Part 21

Part 22

Part 23

Part 24

Part 25

Part 26

Christmas Story Teller[edit]

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Readers and singers: Derek Griffiths, Carole Boyd, Denise Bryer, Nigel Lambert, Steven Pacey, Claire Hamill, Tom Newman.

  • Jingle Bells
  • A Carol for Gobbolino
  • Leroy Learns to Skate
  • Snow White
  • Snow Song
  • Mother Goose
  • Christmas Fun
  • Rudolph to the Rescue
  • Away in a Manger
  • I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing By
  • Dotty and the Teddy Bears
  • Clara and the Nutcracker Doll
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • The Surprise Christmas
  • The Forgotten Toys
  • Minnie's Dinner Spell
  • Morris's Christmas Stocking
  • Hurray for Christmas!

In other languages[edit]

  • Dutch "Luister Sprookjes en Vertellingen"
  • German "Erzähl mir was"
  • French "Raconte-moi des histoires"
  • Italian "I Racconta Storie" and "C'era una volta" (re-edited with CDs instead of cassette tapes)
  • Greek "Άμπρα Κατάμπρα" (Abracadabra) (re-edited 2008 with CDs instead of cassette tapes)
  • Spanish "Cuenta Cuentos"
  • Afrikaans "Storieman"

Similar partworks[edit]

Story Teller became such a huge success in the 80s that other publishers released similar partworks, including Fabbri's Once Upon a Time collection and Disney's Storytime series. In addition to "clones" of the Story Teller series, several paperback books containing selections from the actual Story Teller series were released (with accompanying cassettes) in the US, under the title "Look, Listen and Read". These compilations contained stories or themes that related to each other, either by author or content. Examples include The Best of Aesop, The Legend of King Arthur, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel.

Disney's Storytime[edit]

The main differentiator between Story Teller and Disney's Storytime was the fact that the latter featured only Disney characters. Storytime hit newsagents' shelves soon after Story Teller proved to be a bestseller. It was published in 24 parts and customised binders and cassette boxes were produced to house the collection (just like Story Teller). Classic Disney movies, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Sleeping Beauty (1959), were serialised. (Note: the Australian and New Zealand versions of Story Teller were published as Story Time - not to be confused with Disney's Storytime series.)

References[edit]

  1. ^ MobiusVideo posted the theme at YouTube, under the title: "Story Teller Theme Tune Rag Time Style".
  2. ^ Cyberhops posted the theme at YouTube, under the title "Ted Atking and Alain Feanch - Children's Carnival"

External links[edit]

There are three dedicated websites: