Authors Live: Julia Donaldson | Scottish Book Trust
Sep 20, Author Julia Donaldson (Picture by Puffin Books) Earlier this month, we were very lucky to have the chance to meet Julia in London for a chat. Julia Donaldson is the author of more than fifty books and plays for children, including One Ted Falls Out of Bed, The Snail and the Whale, The Gruffalo. Jan 30, On a tour of India, the children's writer opens up about writing, rhyming and Finding wonder in the ordinary: Meet Julia Donaldson, the writer.
She devised short plays with the right number of parts for a reading group, rotating the roles until each child had read the whole play. The piece would then be performed to the entire class.
This approach seemed to build confidence in reading aloud as well as being enjoyable, and Donaldson stored the plays in a drawer for possible future use. In Malcolm was appointed to Glasgow University as Senior Lecturer in Child Health and the family, now five following the arrival of Jesse inmoved to Bearsden. Between and she wrote for various programmes including Thinkabout Science two series and Playdays, composing songs for presenters and puppets such as Lizzie and the Whybird to sing.
In Donaldson was contacted by Methuen Publishing to ask if the words of her song "A Squash and a Squeeze", which she had written for the BBC's Playboard programme incould be made into a picture book for children. The book was published inwith illustrations by a German artist Axel Schefflerwho was living in London.
Publication of A Squash and a Squeeze was a pivotal event for Donaldson.
We meet… Julia Donaldson – Books with Baby
It made her realise that her song-writing talent could be applied to story-writing, and gave her the confidence to open her drawer of simple plays for schoolchildren and to send some samples to an educational publisher.
Between and she wrote extensively for Heinemann and Ginn, including plays such as Birthday Surprise for younger classes and Top of the Mops for reluctant teenage readers, as well as re-tellings of traditional tales. During this time Donaldson started visiting Scottish schools and libraries, occasionally accompanied by Malcolm Donaldson and his guitar. The tiger misinterprets the terror of the various animals they meet as being related to her rather than him, and flees. Donaldson sensed that this story could be developed into more than an educational item and returned to it later as a possible basis for a picture book.
She then hit upon the idea of a monster whose name would end in O to rhyme with "doesn't he know". Even then, The Gruffalo proved nigh impossible to write but, encouraged by her son Alastair, Donaldson persisted with her idea that the monster, rather than existing in the Deep Dark Wood from the outset, should be a figment of the Mouse's imagination, employed to scare off the fox, owl and snake but then turning out to be a reality.
A further objection to the original draft was made by Jesse by now called Jerry who asked, "Mum, why don't the fox, owl and snake just eat the mouse on the spot? The Gruffalo was sent to Reid Books in Donaldson sent the text to Axel Scheffler, whom she had met only once or twice, briefly, following the publication of A Squash and a Squeeze.
Within days Macmillan Children's Books made an offer to publish The Gruffalo, which was illustrated by Scheffler and published in Beyond The Gruffalo[ edit ] The Gruffalo was an immediate success, going on to win several awards, including the Smarties Prize It has subsequently been translated into more than 40 languages, sold over 10 million copies worldwide, and has given rise to stage and screen productions by Tall Stories  and Magic Light Pictures.
Lydia Monks has illustrated the Princess Mirror-Belle trilogy, a series of books for 7- to year-olds about a boastful girl who is the mirror reflection of an ordinary girl called Ellen. Donaldson is also the author of The Giants and the Joneses for children aged 8—12 years. Her teenage novel Running on the Cracks is set in Glasgow and traces the adventures of orphaned half-Chinese Leo aged 15 who is fleeing from her dodgy uncle in England and trying to find her father's estranged family.
She befriends a schoolboy called Finlay, who is loosely based on Donaldson's youngest son Jerry during his days as a paper boy. Running on the Cracks, whose element of mental illness is drawn from Hamish's hospital experiences won the Nasen award in for its sympathetic and inclusive portrait of Mary, who befriends Leo but then descends into a severe relapse of her bi-polar condition. Donaldson has also written a phonic reading scheme of short stories comprising 60 books of Songbird Phonics, published by Oxford University Press.
Following the publication of The Gruffalo she was invited to book festivals, participating in the Edinburgh International Book Festival every year from onwards, and appearing regularly at Hay, Cheltenham and Bath festivals, as well as at many theatres. I became quite adept at the structure of it all and the music helps to be lilting and choose the right words.
Julia Donaldson - Wikipedia
Yes, but I think all people used to be able to do write verse. When I was little, there was a programme called Listen With Mother on the radio and there were always two nursery rhymes and a story. And in primary school, we sang a hymn every day.
So we all knew a hundred rhyming, scanning hymns. In Victorian times, every self-respecting person could turn out a poem which rhymed and scanned perfectly. You campaigned heavily against the library closures a few years ago.
What do you think about the lack of female lead characters in picture books? Quite honestly, you get all this movement towards having strong females but if you do that and have dopey men, all the men complain and say they are disempowered. So I never bother about trying to please people. I write what I want to write and sometimes there will be strong women. If you think of Stick Man, it was just going to be a man.
The Highway Rat just has to be a man.
I try hard to have female characters. When I wrote Zog, I really wanted a female character, I wanted to write a book about dragons and I liked an idea of Madam Dragon, which meant the hero had to be male. In the Giant Jumperee I made sure I had roughly the same of each gender.
Sometimes the names influence it though. When is that due out? I think next year, I think Sara is just starting it.
She had other things in the queue, I wrote it quite a while ago. There was a picture on the wall of the hospital dog and I found out that the owner lived very near me. I went and met them, and went on a walk round the hospital with them. I hope the Queen has seen my book, I keep trying to get it to her! It is excruciating difficult to write the stories.
Do you have a particular place you write? Do you have a favourite book or is it ever-changing? Ever since, The Gruffalo has captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of children across the world.
Authors Live: Julia Donaldson
I could just write any old thing in rhyme but it would be ridiculous. The Ugly Five, also illustrated by Scheffler, is a wonderful story about parenthood that challenges notions of perfection.
Like many of her other books, it roots for the underdog. So, although the Big Five — lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo, and elephant — often dominate the landscape, this book introduces young readers to the lesser-known and lesser-loved wildebeest, warthog, spotted hyena, lappet-faced vulture and Marabou stork.
In her young adult book, Running on the Cracks, Donaldson weaves together threads about mental illness, immigration, and abuse. It features year-old Leonora, who is on the run from a creepy uncle, while attempting to trace the Chinese part of the family in Glasgow, meeting an eclectic set of characters along the way.