Back in 2010, Candlewick brought out the first US edition of StoryWorld --a boxed set of forty intricately illustrated cards, created by John and Caitlin Matthews to serve as inspiration for young story tellers. There are now six different sets of cards available here, the most recent of which is "Quests and Adventures." In this set, 28 rather lovely pictures of magical places and things (like "the Spell to Command Time" and "the Magic Seeds") are combined with characters both possible ("the Emperor") and fantastical ("the Giant.") The back of each card has a few story prompting questions on it, and the instruction book has suggestions for a variety of ways in which the cards can be used.
Candlewick offered me a set for review, and I was curious. My nine year old is a storyteller already, and I wondered if he would welcome illustrated cards into his repertoire of inspiration, or reject them as Alien. So they arrived safely, and then I made a bad error of judgement when offering them to him. It was fifteen minutes to bedtime, and a long time later, he and I were still downstairs in the living, telling stories....he took them to camp the next day, to share with his friends.
So yes, from an "inspiring child to tell stories" point of view, definitely a success! I can imagine these sets being really useful in the classroom, much better than the cards my own fourth grade teacher had ("Imagine you are a tennis ball"). They have tons of visual appeal, and really do make one want to tell stories! (Although maybe not at ten pm after a long day. At that point, my stories were going something like this: "The magic seeds exploded. Everyone died.")
My only reservation with this particular set is that it very centered in the European tradition. The Questing Knight looks like he could be from east of Europe, but that's the extent of the diversity. I'd love to see a similar set of cards with more imagery from stories around the world...I'd definitely buy it for my son (I'm tempted to get him another pack for Christmas--perhaps the Legends of the Sea set). I would also have liked female characters who weren't wearing skirts or dresses. Perhaps even shooting bows, or something (which reminds me yet again that I must take my boys to go see Brave!).
Here's another review at Back to Books, in which the cards were a great success with the blogger's autistic son. And another review, at My Favorite Books, has lots of pictures of the cards themselves.
(disclaimer: review set received from the publisher)
at 5:55 AM