Get out the earplugs, it’s noisy story time in Episode Two of Story House…


Listen in and learn how this crazy-bonkers story helps kids learn about the joy of books. Thanks to Nicola O’Byrne and Nick Bromley for this brilliant bit of story time fun, and to Dr Patricia Lucas for explaining the clever stuff.

If you missed Episode One, you can listen here, and if you like what you hear, look out for one more episode coming next week.

As well as making podcasts, I write short stories and stories for picture books. I also help out with the wonderful organisation that is the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators.  Feel free to look me up on Facebook or Twitter @helen_liston or leave a comment below. Happy listening!

Listen to Story House here… and find out why these kids just LOVED this book.

FeaturedListen to Story House here…   and find out why these kids just LOVED this book.

I’m really excited to release the first episode of Story House, a short podcast for grown-up picture book lovers.  In the picture above you can see story sparks Rudy, Digby, Disa and Jack taking a look at the first of our featured books, No! by Marta Altés.  In this episode of Story House we set the format for those that follow. You’ll hear the kids listening to – or taking part in – the story, after which Dr Patrica Lucas sheds light on some developmental aspects of their story experience.

Our aim is to reveal some of the hidden secrets of the picture book and child relationship: what elements tickle them and why? Why do certain joys never wear thin? What learning is going on under the surface of the story chaos?

I hope that if you are a parent or carer, librarian, teacher, writer or simply a picture book lover, you’ll find something out about picture books that you didn’t quite know before.  And if you don’t, I hope you’ll simply enjoy the sweet sound of children loving stories and two big people getting all excited about it.  But watch out – it’s a noisy one!

Are you sitting comfortably? What on? It’s time to take a closer look at Oi Frog.

As a not-yet-published picture book writer, I’ve heard many times that rhyming texts are hard to sell to non-English speaking countries. But in the UK they sell very well indeed.  After all, don’t we all just love a good rhyme? Easy to read aloud for grown-ups, fun to predict for kids, and as for language development…

In Oi Frog, the rhymes don’t chunter along a la Gruffalo, but instead form the whole premise of the story.  Listen in to the kids and Patricia and find out how nonsense + rhymes = a whirling good story time.


Picturebook Patricia


Story House wouldn’t be possible without Patrica, and here she is having fun with kids.  Usually her work is harder than this.  Patricia is a Reader at the University of Bristol, a lover (and teacher) of children’s literature, and all round brilliant person.  You can find out more about her work here and you can listen to her talking about her favourite childhood, picture books below – worms and bottoms feature.


Daisy and the Dragon’s Egg… In print & judge’s comments

Daisy and the Dragon’s Egg… In print & judge’s comments

Daisy and The Dragon’s Egg appeared in Writing Magazine this month.  I think I got pretty lucky as the brief just happened to fit a picture book text I’d already written.  That brief was to write a story for children about “coming to terms with something”.  In Daisy and the Dragon’s Egg a young girl comes to terms with a whole stack of things: a new parent figure, home, school and sibling (phew!)… all via her new responsibility as the keeper of a shimmering dragon’s egg.  After I’d written this story I started to think that I’d watched Bowie’s Labyrinth one too many times. If you read it maybe you’ll make the connection…


Daisy and the Dragon’s Egg also exists as a text of 700 words where pictures are intended to help tell the story.  To make the story longer for this comp, I investigated Daisy’s emotions and also got to write some visual descriptions – not something that a picture book author gets to do very often!  The comp win also came with £200 – my first earnings from writing ever. I’d like to say I didn’t spend a penny of it on vintage junk or stationery, but…

You can read the story online here.

We Love Story/Craft Club!

When I started this Y1 / Y2 after-school club I suspected I’d meet even a little resistance or apathy (from the kids of course, not the staff at Glenfrome Primary).

But no, the kids TOTALLY LOVE to make stories! Some of them write, some of them draw, some do both, and ALL of them bomb the place with glitter.

The reason I loved story-making when I was a kid was the allure of those blank pages… so much potential! It’s great to create that same opportunity and see their eyes light up as they set down their own worlds in these little white books.