The Paintbrush of Doom with Carlos Hernandez


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This week’s Story Seeds collaboration matches Carlos Hernandez (winner of the 2020 Pura Belpré Author Award and author of the Sal and Gabi series from Rick Riordan Presents) with 10 year old twins Siri and Zarana.

Carlos collaborates with Siri and Zarana to grow their story idea:

A girl who really loves to paint get a magic paintbrush from her kooky aunt on her 10th birthday. She uses it to paint the animals she loves, but it turns out that her imagination is opening up doorways to a locked, magical world that’s letting the animals from her paintings out into the real world.

Join an imagination-filled Story Seeds adventure with host Betsy Bird as Carlos and the twins take a field trip to the Children's Museum of the Arts NYC to:

  • Create clay landscapes in CMA's art studios while talking about silhouette painting and creativity
  • Discuss their inspiration for the story idea: the power of imagination and screentime
  • Grow a story about a main character who discovers what happens when she unleashes her anger and lets it take control of her creativity

The episode concludes with this week’s storytime (17:00) where Carlos reads the story he grew from Siri and Zarana’s story seed: Citaria’s Paintbrush.

Books and media mentioned in this episode: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe and Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez, A Wrinkle in Time by Margaret L'Engle, The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, and His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman.

Calls to Action

Bonus Episode: Check back next week to hear Betsy's interview with Carlos. You’ll get to hear more about his life as an author and a game designer.

Kids: Call The Story Seeds Hotline at 646-389-5153, email us at, or visit our website to submit your story ideas. You can also join The Story Seeds Society, our kids listeners club.

Grownups: Visit for subscription links, to sign up for our newsletter, and to download our printable activity e-zines for your kids (or the kid in you!) that offer opportunities to read, write, and get creative alongside listening to each episode . You can also follow us on Instagram @storyseedspod, on Twitter @litsafarimedia, and on Facebook @literarysafari.

Get our Imagination Lab: Experiments in Creativity activity book! It pairs perfectly with the podcast and features tons of episode-inspired prompts and projects! Order your copy here!

This episode is also available on YouTube. Subscribe here.

Show credits

Produced and written by Sandhya Nankani, Anjali Sakhrani, and Kayla Fedeson. Scoring, mixing, and sound design by Ania Grzesik and Matt Boynton of Ultraviolet Audio. Field audio recorded by James Boo. Hosted by Betsy Bird. Music by Andrew VanWyngarden, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/musician and co-founder of MGMT.

The Story Seeds Podcast is a creation and production of Literary Safari

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