story or theme?

Ocean. Jungle. Pirates. Soccer. Fairies. Cars. Desert. Etc. and so forth.  

These are themes. Themes provide a quickly discerned common thread. They are like a shelf onto which similar groceries can be placed for easy retrieval. There is really nothing wrong with themes if simply having a common thread is the goal.

Stories, on the other hand, can be thought of as a tapestry woven out of many thematic threads. Stories nurture and/or invite curiosity and connection. Stories engage the mind beyond the realm of mere observation. They captivate attention while also encouraging creativity. Stories unfold while leading the looker/reader/listener into adventures that outlast the reach of a theme.

Stories are all those things taken off "theme shelves" and then skillfully mixed into a marvelous meal.

Stories can welcome, calm, excite, connect and/or helpfully distract and cool a mind in meltdown. 

Stories are Smartful!