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  • Published: 10 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781448119653
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 448

Magic Beans: A Handful of Fairytales from the Storybag

Beautiful retellings of favourite fairytales by the best-loved writers for children.

Magic beans. Sow them. Plant them. Watch children grow.

'If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!' - Shel Silverstein, Poet

Each and every one of the stories in this anthology is a magic bean: a wondrous tale that will capture your imagination. Prepare to be dazzled by Rapunzel's golden tresses. Prepare to be moved by the suffering of the Little Mermaid. Prepare to laugh yourself silly as 'Mr Sultana' struggles to get the better of a little red rooster!

Lovingly crafted by the finest authors and illustrators, these 'magic beans' will delight, thrill and thoroughly entertain.

  • Published: 10 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781448119653
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 448

About the authors

Adèle Geras

ADELE GERAS was born in Jerusalem and travelled widely as a child. She started writing over twenty-five years ago and has published more than 80 titles. Ithaka was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Whitbread Chirldren's Book Award. She lives in Manchester with her husband and has two grown-up daughters and two grandchildren.

Anne Fine

Anne Fine is one of our most distinguished writers for children. She has written over fifty highly acclaimed books and has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and both the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year and the Carnegie Medal twice over. Anne was appointed the Children’s Laureate from 2001-3, and her work has been translated into over forty languages. In 2003 she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded an OBE. Anne lives in County Durham.

Anne Fine was born and educated in the Midlands, and now lives in County Durham. She has written numerous highly acclaimed and prize-winning books for children and adults.
Her novel The Tulip Touch won the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award; Goggle-Eyes won the Guardian Children's Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal, and was adapted for television by the BBC; Flour Babies won the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award; Bill's New Frock won a Smarties Prize, and Madame Doubtfire has become a major feature film starring Robin Williams. Anne was the Children's Laureate 2001 - 2003 and won an OBE in 2003.

Henrietta Branford

Henrietta Branford was born in India in 1946 but grew up in a remote part of the New Forest. Her first novel, Royal Blunder, was published in 1990. After that she wrote many different sorts of books, from picture books to teenage novels, including Dimanche Diller (Smarties Prize and the Prix Tam-Tam) and Fire, Bed and Bone (Guardian Children's Fiction Prize). After her death in 1997 a prize was established to commemorate her and her editor Wendy Boase - the Branford Boase Award for a first novel.

Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson wrote her first novel when she was nine years old, and she has been writing ever since. She is now one of Britain’s bestselling and most beloved children’s authors. She has written over 100 books and is the creator of characters such as Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather. More than forty million copies of her books have been sold.

As well as winning many awards for her books, including the Children’s Book of the Year, Jacqueline is a former Children’s Laureate, and in 2008 she was appointed a Dame.

Jacqueline is also a great reader, and has amassed over 20,000 books, along with her famous collection of silver rings.

Find out more about Jacqueline and her books at www.jacquelinewilson.co.uk

Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman has written over seventy books for children and young adults, including the Noughts & Crosses series, Thief and a science-fiction thriller, Chasing the Stars. Many of her books have also been adapted for stage and television, including a BAFTA-award-winning BBC production of Pig-Heart Boy and a Pilot Theatre stage adaptation by Sabrina Mahfouz of Noughts & Crosses. There is also a major BBC production of Noughts & Crosses, with Roc Nation (Jay-Z’s entertainment company) curating the soundtrack as executive music producer. In 2005 Malorie was honoured with the Eleanor Farjeon Award in recognition of her distinguished contribution to the world of children’s books. In 2008 she received an OBE for her services to children’s literature, and between 2013 and 2015 she was the Children’s Laureate. Most recently Malorie wrote for the Doctor Who series on BBC One, and the fifth novel in her Noughts & Crosses series, Crossfire, was published by Penguin Random House Children’s in summer 2019.

Tony Mitton

Tony Mitton is an award-winning poet, whose gently mesmerising, often humorous poetry is irresistible to both children and adults alike. He is an extremely versatile author, writing story poems and shorter verse with skill and wit. Tony does lots of author events, school visits and poetry readings and always leaves his audience entranced.

He lives in Cambridge with his wife and two children.

Alan Garner

Alan Garner was born in Congleton, Cheshire, in 1934. His began writing his first novel at the age of 22 and is renowned as one of Britain's outstanding writers for young adults. He has won many prizes for his writing, and, in 2001 he was awarded the OBE for services to literature.

Berlie Doherty

Berlie Doherty began writing for children in 1983, after teaching and working in radio. She has written more than 35 books for children, as well as for the theatre, radio and television. Berlie has won the Carnegie Medal twice: in 1987 for GRANNY WAS A BUFFER GIRL and in 1992 for DEAR NOBODY. She has also won the Writer's Guild Children's Fiction Award for DAUGHTER OF THE SEA. Her work is published all over the world, and many of her books have been televised.

Gillian Cross

Gillian Cross was born in 1945. Although she is now a full-time writer, she has had a number of informal jobs, including being an assistant to a Member of Parliament. Her books include Wolf (Carnegie Medal 1990), The Great Elephant Chase (Whitbread Children's Book Award, Smarties Prize, 1992) and the titles in the 'Demon Headmaster' sequence, which was also made into a TV series.

Kit Wright

Kit Wright was born in 1944 and is the author of more than twenty-five books, for both adults and children. His books of poetry include The Bear Looked Over the Mountain (1977), which won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award, and Short Afternoons (1989), which won the Hawthornden Prize and was joint winner of the Heinemann Award. His poetry is collected in Hoping It Might Be So: Poems 1974-2000 (2000).

Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo has written over 120 books, many of them award-winning. His most well-known work, War Horse, was adapted into a multi-Oscar nominated film by Steven Spielberg, and a widely-acclaimed play at the National Theatre.

In 2003 Michael became the third Children's Laureate, a position he helped create with the poet Ted Hughes.

With his wife, Clare, he set up the charity Farms for City Children, and for their pioneering work they were both awarded the MBE in 1999.

Susan Gates

S.P. Gates was born in Grimsby, England. Her dad is a musician and her mum was a tailor. Before she became a full-time writer she lived and worked in Malawi, Africa, then taught in schools in Coventry and County Durham in England.

She has written more than 100 books for children. Many of which have won prizes, including twice overall winner of the Sheffield Children's Book Award, commended for the Carnegie Medal and Highly Commended for the Nasen Special Educational Needs Award. She's diversified a lot in children's writing (she likes a new challenge) and has written plays, poems, picture books, books for reluctant readers, novels for teenagers, comedy, thrillers, comedy/thrillers, historical novels - and even once a series of books about grammar for schools.

If she hadn't been a writer, she'd like to have been a professional guitarist like her father, who is still gigging at 88 years old!




Linda Newbery

As a child Linda Newbery was a secret writer, filling exercise books with stories which she hid in her wardrobe. Now she is a published author of over forty books, mainly children's and teenage fiction. She has been shortlisted for many prestigious literary prizes and has won the Costa children's book award.
Linda lives in an Oxfordshire village and enjoys yoga, gardening, walking and the cinema.

Praise for Magic Beans: A Handful of Fairytales from the Storybag

An entrancing collection of classic fairtyales retold by leading storytellers such as Philip Pullman, Adele Geras, and Malorie Blackman. Elegant line drawings [...] add to the magic.

Amanda Craig, The Times

Magic Beans is a wonderfully entertaining sampler of 14 great storytellers, who include Anne Fine, Phillip Pullman and Jacqueline Wilson. It's rich retellings range from Aesops Fables to the Little Mermaid.

Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times

Magic Beans is an anthology of fairy-tales, some more and some less familiar, each one retold by a contemporary writer. Each is perfect for reading aloud over a few bedtimes, and with wonderfully told stories by brilliant writers including Alan Garner, Linda Newbery, Anne Fine, Gillian Cross, Berlie Doherty and Philip Pullman, parents will love it every bit as much as their kids.

Daniel Hahn, The Independent

If you don't have a collection, then Magic Beans: A Handful of Fairytales From the Storybag (David Fickling Books, £9.99, 8.99) is as good a place to start as any. It has classic tales (Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel, etc) and less well-known ones such as Mossy Coat, The Seal Hunter, Cockadoodledo and Mr Sultana, as told by a selection of some of the best children's writers, including Anne Fine, Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman, Philip Pullman, Alan Garner and Michael Morpurgo. Even bought as a reference guide to fantastic writers for your kids to explore, it'll be money well spent.

The Mail on Sunday

With comfortable print and decorative embellishments by well-known illustrators, this rich kaleidoscope of stories is a book for keeps

Mary Arrigan, The Irish Examiner

A book ripe for plucking as a Christmas or birthday present. Much nicer and more accessible than a traditional keepsake edition, this anthology will actually be read and enjoyed rather than resting on the shelf. The whole clutch of stories is beautifully, clearly written, and adults will relish reading them aloud to children. In a modern world where singing a traditional nursery rhyme evokes puzzled looks and little fingers poke at amazing, sophisticated screens, I say hooray for the simple bedtime story.

Sue, The Bookbag

A collection fairy tale re-tellings by some of our finest writers including Adèle Geras, Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Pullman and Michael Morpurgo, that was also included in last week's round-up of books for seven to 12-year-olds, brims with elegant prose, enchantment, comedy and mischief. Malorie Blackman's re-telling of Aesop's Fables is particularly delicious, rich in humour and irony. So begins the tale of the fox and grapes: "Foxy was walking along the dusty road one day, minding his own business and thinking foxy thoughts ...." It's the perfect gift but also a book to squirrel away for yourself and enjoy on a rainy afternoon.

The Independent

Smartly written, the tales can be enjoyed afresh, imbued with a love of words that will no doubt excite and delight your child. The new hardback collection is printed in large type so should be a good first read. It would also make a lovely gift.


If you buy one anthology for Christmas, make it a classic that your kids can enjoy in years to come. Each of the stories in thsi anthology is a magic bean: a wondroud take that will capture your imagination,. Lovlingly crafter by some of the finest auhors and illustrators in the business - inluding Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Pullman and Michael Morpurgo- these 'magic beans' will delight and thoroughly entertain. Offering a modern twist on some classic.

Anne Whelton, Maternity Magazine

This is a super selection of fourteen fairy tales, renewed by tremendous storytellers. Adele Geras' strange and spellbinding The Six Swan Brothers, sinisterly illustrated by Ian Beck, opens the selection and the irresistible witch tempts the reader into the tale of a King's spell-struck sons, doomed to be forever swans unless their sister Cora can release them. The machiavellian cruelty still shocks, while Geras' stylish writing enthralls. Anne Fine's Twelve Dancing Princesses, with ribbons of dancing shoes by Debi Gliori edging the pages, is told in a no-nonsense, exasperated-father style as the king tries - with help from various characters - to find out how his daughters can wear out a dozen pairs of shoes every night! All the stories give a fresh and immediate version of the often cruel but funny originals where the darkest sides of human nature are contrasted against innocent honesty; magic intervening first on one side, then the other, until virtue triumphs. Skilful writing from modern storytellers.

Tina Massey, Carousel

A bright cover and good sized print are attractive but the irresistible factor is the list of 13 authors ...Amazing, brilliant and a comparative bargain.

School Librarian journal

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