One of the most magical things from my childhood is Story Teller.
Story Teller is a collection of children’s stories and poems released as a partwork by Marshall Cavendish in the 80s. Think of a partwork as a book released in instalments. Each “instalment” consisted of a full-colour, 32-page magazine and a 45 to 50-minute cassette tape with readings of the stories by top celebrities of the period.
It’s amazing to think that Story Teller is more than 35 years old. I still remember very clearly how I first learned about this magnificent series, a publication that was to have a lasting impression on me: it was via a TV commercial on ITV. Make that two TV commercials for, if I remember correctly, there were two versions shown on TV. They started to appear shortly after Christmas 1982 to announce the big launch in January 1983.
I have vivid memories of those adverts. I remember the animated illustrations from the first issue: Gobbolino being fished out of the river, Aldo zooming high with his flying vacuum, and the vain Emperor walking naked in a street parade. Most of all, I remember the now famous Story Teller jingle, a piece of music that from then on would never fail to assure me that something magical is about to happen whenever I hear it.
Using some of the money I got for Christmas, I bought the first issue from my local newsagent as soon as I could. I have to admit that at first I was quite disappointed to see that it was just a “normal” book. You see, I expected to see the pictures move as they appeared in the TV commercials but the illustrations were very much static!
My disappointment didn’t last very long though. Story Teller started to weave its spell as soon as I played the cassette and “that” jingle transported me to a fairy tale world that I would return to again and again, issue by issue, as a child and even now as an adult. The static illustrations that had so disappointed me at first became alive before my very eyes. The experience was simply … magic.
For two years, I would save up my pocket money to buy each fortnightly issue. Of course, at Christmas I had to save extra to be able to afford the bumper Christmas issues. It was a struggle but well worth the sacrifice for at the end of it all I ended up with a magnificent collection of the world’s best children’s stories and poems. Even today, I have yet to encounter a collection that could rival Story Teller’s fantastic range of stories and exceptionally beautiful illustrations. Nothing has ever come close. Period.
Dare we hope that one day Eaglemoss would re-issue the series on CD? It’s probably too much to hope for … but then again, if there’s one thing Story Teller has taught me it is the fact that nothing is impossible if you wish hard enough!