Story Lab The Summer Reading Challenge 2012 creative concept

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Story Lab - The Summer Reading Challenge 2012 creative concept

Step into Story Lab, and you’re off on an imaginative adventure that knows no bounds. The brainchild of Prof Cortex, the Story Lab’s on board computer, Story Lab is a five-sided hi-tech HQ that attracts stories from all over the world and sends them spinning throughout the city – and beyond! Here you can read, collect, share, create, transmit and broadcast stories.

The Story Lab will:

  • exist virtually as the SRC website environment

  • exist as a 3-D cardboard replica which will form the core item in the children’s packs

  • plus libraries can create a Story Lab in their libraries (we will support with ideas and graphics)


For the Summer Reading Challenge, Prof Cortex has asked the Story Lab kids Will, Rani, Evie and Lex to recover three lost items to boost the imagination of the Story Lab. Lex is 11, loves films and making movies, and is a born storyteller; Rani is 9 and a real globetrotter; Will, 7, is a big bundle of energy and a natural gymnast, and Evie, 10 is the techie of the pack (see full character descriptions on page 2).

Like all Summer Reading Challenges, Story Lab will be divided into three stages, and as children read books over the summer, they will collect stickers to help the Story Lab kids to complete each stage. On completion, children will receive a medal and certificate.

The link to London 2012

  • The link to the Olympics this year will be made by setting the Story Lab in a thriving metropolis “hosting “ the Olympic Games, because every city needs stories!

  • The Olympic Games will be hinted at with illustrative references to stadia and sporting activities happening in the background

  • Some of the Story lab kids will show a passion for a sport - Evie for example carries her tennis racket around.

  • The three stages of the challenge (described below) are divided into bronze, silver and gold.

  • The SRC medal will resemble an Olympic medal in shape (so bigger than current medal) with a letterbox style opening instead of a round opening, and the option of a purple ribbon lanyard (with safety release).

Stage 1 – Bronze

Bronze coin - To retrieve an ancient bronze coin from the vault beneath the museum, you’ll need to read two books.


Stage 2 – Silver

Silver mirror - Moving on to the river (site of Olympic activity and arts) the next stage is to recover the silver mirror from the banks of a small island. You do this by reading two more books.


Stage 3 – Gold

Gold medal - The final stage is to retrieve a golden medal hidden in the Olympic Park. Again, you need to read two more books to complete the challenge.

This provides opportunities for libraries to use the Story Lab as a starting point to appeal to children’s imagination, and take their reading off into new directions. Here’s a brief outline of how the challenge stages may be used by libraries as part of the cultural development:

Stage 1: the bronze coin alludes to the history of storytelling and the wealth of tales that have been passed down through the ages. Encompassing non-fiction, historical fiction, and legends through the ages, it makes a link between our past and present, and diverse cultures from all over the world.

Stage 2: the silver mirror represents the power of the imagination that flows through books and fairytales. Reflecting the true potential of the narrator in fiction, it draws a parallel between the world of fairy tale, fiction, myths, and the real world we inhabit today.    
Stage 3: the gold medal is the ultimate achievement and celebrates the transformative nature of books and stories. Just as reading entertains and amuses us, it also affords us the opportunity to enhance and enrich our lives, to push forward personal boundaries and attain new goals. Like the Olympic ideal, it represents a dream within our reach.

The cast - characters in Story Lab:

Story Lab features four characters: Lex, Rani, Will and Evie. They are helped by Aesop, the ginger lab cat, and the operation is overseen by Prof Cortex. She’s the computer genius behind the lab.

Lex is 11, loves films and making movies, and is a born storyteller. He can even turn his journey into school into a sparkling anecdote.

When he’s not carrying a book he’s carrying his video camera to record this and his friends’ adventures

Lex loves horror stories (think Neil Gaiman and Chris Priestley) and HATES being called Alexander.

Rani is 9 and a real globetrotter. Her ambition is to visit every country in the world and she’s constantly poring over facts books. She loves to bring mementos back from wherever she goes.

Crazy about arts and crafts, Rani is often making things for her family and friends. She’s practical, considerate, kind – and just a little crazy!

Favourite reading: Philip Reeve and Lauren Child.

Will, 7, is a big bundle of energy. He’s a natural gymnast – really into martial arts – who loves to play rough and tumble with his friends. But he’s always finding himself in sticky situations – he’s a total trouble magnet! – and reliant on Lex and Rani to help him out.

He loves music (always too loud!), dinosaurs, and has a soft spot for Aesop the cat who’s nearly as adventurous as he is.

Favourite reading: Steve Cole’s Astrosaurs and Brian Selznick.

Evie, 10 is the techie of the pack. She’s computer mad, always solving problems and constantly keeps all the labs systems up to date (with a little help from the Prof).

She’s a keen tennis player and a big animal lover – it’s usually Evie who’s checking up on Aesop.

She prefers to snuggle up in the corner with her e-reader and get stuck in to a funny story by Jeremy Strong or an animal book by Lauren St John.

Aesop the Ninja cat is Will’s partner in crime. He’s learned martial arts from a master, and he’ll need all nine of his lives to escape from some of the scrapes these guys find themselves in.

He’s a very fussy eater though, and one thing he hates more than anything else is – FISH. If only everyone else would get the message!

If he’s lucky, Rani sometimes reads him Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat.

Prof Cortex is the lab’s computer system. There’s nothing she doesn’t know about where they’re going or what they’re likely to meet there. When they need answers, the Prof is on hand to supply them. Appearing as a large brain on a huge computer screen surrounded by a wall of sparkling lights, the Prof’s a font of all knowledge when it comes to stories and authors.

More about the 2012 Story Lab illustrator – Steve May

Steve May is a celebrated illustrator/art director with an MA in animation from the Royal College.

He illustrates the All Ears feature for the Saturday Guardian,  Boy Zero; Wannabe Superhero (Peter Willetts) for Faber, Michael Lawrence’s Jiggy McCue, and for Orchard, and Jeremy Strong's best-selling Cartoon Kid for Puffin. Steve May, whose background in children’s book illustration and animation make him the perfect choice for Story Lab.

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