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Take a look inside The Storyteller's Handbook

ELISE's sketchbooks

See the little sketchbooks that started it all. Elise shows us the inspiration behind The Storyteller's Handbook, how her style developed and the gift of mistakes! 
Photography by Darren James.

drawing in progress

Work progresses on clouds and trees for The Storyteller's Handbook


Night drawing and the joy of not  planning images before you draw.

reviews & interviews

Bianca Schulze: The Storyteller’s Handbook is an incredible one-of-a-kind experience that is sure to ignite the inner storyteller in young and old. It is no ordinary book. What would you like readers to know about your creation?

Elise Hurst: I want to take you on a journey with this book. I want to help you make discoveries on every page, but also to discover stories inside yourself. I know from my own experience that it is so much easier and so much more fun to be creative when you have something to respond to, something that fires your imagination and floods your mind with questions. So, this is a book of story ingredients where you will travel in and out of new worlds with every page turn.

THE BIG PICTURE on Instagram

"For those among us who simply love spectacular illustration, I have rarely seen anything quite this spectacular."
"It is truly a masterwork"

Reviewed by The Big Picture

Reviewed by Michelle Anne Schingler
July / August 2022
“You will be the storyteller,” navigating through this exquisite wordless picture book whose images suggest deep tales, but do not over pronounce their parameters. Each feathery illustration plays with proportions and subverts expectations: giant owls tower over buildings; koalas lounge on drifting autumn leaves. A girl walks a cloud on a leash. A woman takes in tea, bathed in the light of a rising sun. A mouse rises to the stars. What’s going on behind these magical scenes? That’s for you to decide!
I fell head over heels in love with this book. It's everything I wanted it to be and so much more. I've lost count how many times I've pored over it's gorgeous pages, filled with sublime artwork. Inspirational, magical, perfect. Looking forward to the next adventure.
"Definitely the most unique and imaginative book I’ve ever known."

Reviewed by Elise Ellerman 

'The Storyteller’s Handbook' by Elise Hurst and foreword by Neil Gaiman is an astonishingly exquisite and unique book that has brought us countless hours of joy. Elise Hurst is one of my family’s favourite authors, so imagine our excitement when we learned that she was creating a book with a collection containing fifty-two of her intricate illustrations. These have been expressly created to spark the imagination and immerse the reader in fantastical worlds and adventures, with a cast of characters including mythical creatures, animals, children and adults. Each wordless page is a feast for the eyes, brimming with details and nuggets that inspire questions and cause you to ponder, wonder and imagine.
Each night it has become a highly anticipated ritual for my younger daughter and I (we are often joined by my older children too) to open to a page, any page and “read” the pictures to become the storyteller. We are inspired with an instant stream of thoughts and wonderings in response to the illustrations. The breathtaking scenes included do not combine to form a narrative, hence any page at any time can be explored. The settings are diverse and include outer space, lakeside, the deep ocean and there’s even a library to name just a few. Be warned, the more time taken to savour this library (and this is the case for all the illustrations), the more extraordinary details are revealed, questions arise and stories are born. Within these images are a magical mix of characters, sometimes engaged in activities that would be deemed out of the ordinary, for example a young child reading a book underwater to a large threatening looking fish, however the mood captured seems one of friendliness between the characters rather than hostility, prompting wonderings about this context, relationship and how it may have come to be. There are stories within stories to unpack as observations are made about individuals, their emotions as well as the inclusion of animals in scenes engaged in actions that are uncharacteristic for them. Some characters appear to be on a journey, where are they going? Where did they come from? There are numerous visually stunning interactions between humans and animals, some are playful, others are surreal and all are a balm for the soul. My daughter has taken to naming some of the settings, people and embracing Roald Dahl creating some neologisms.
Elise’s illustrations are wondrous invitations to leave the confines of where you are and through the power of your imagination explore another place and time. They allow the reader to step into the skin of the characters, ponder their thoughts, reasons for their actions, reactions, what they might be feeling physically and account for this. They are invitations to consider each character’s feelings, the commonalities and differences between them. What would you ask them? How would you interact if you were physically part of the scenes illustrated. Stories might be inspired by a particular character’s point of view.
The yellow door