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Live webchat with Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson - Friday 2 March 12-1pm

(75 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 23-Feb-12 16:23:33

We are absolutely thrilled that the Children's Laureate will be joining us at GNHQ on 2nd March.

Julia Donaldson is one of the UK’s most popular children’s authors. She started her career writing songs for children’s television then in 1993, one of her songs was made into a book, A Squash And A Squeeze. Since then she has written over 100 books and plays for children and teenagers. She is probably best known for her partnership with Axel Scheffler, illustrator of best-selling book The Gruffalo, amongst many others.

Her latest book - illustrated by Nick Sharratt - is Goat Goes To Playgroup. It's a comforting story that's perfect for grans/parents to read to children starting at, or already attending, a playgroup: Goat has lots of fun with the musical instruments and the dressing up box but causes a commotion in the classroom by getting into a muddle or two.

In 2011 Julia was announced as the Children’s Laureate, for a term of two years, and was awarded an MBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours. You can find out more on her website:

Add your questions for her here

(Oh and keep an eye on our Kids' Book of the Month pages - a treat for Julia Donaldson fans coming up in the next few weeks!)

glassortwo Thu 23-Feb-12 17:15:47

I am looking forward to this my GC and I love all of her books especially The smartest Giant in Town.

rosiemus Thu 23-Feb-12 20:33:19

Me too. We absolutely love all her books (I think I enjoy them as much as my GC!)

My question for Julia is this: I have often wondered when reading the books whether the idea for the story comes first and the rhyme round it - or whether you begin with the rhyme and sees where it takes you?

northerngran Thu 23-Feb-12 20:43:20

I had to jump in while I remember to ask a quick question (a busy week ahead)

I would love to know out of all your books which is your favourite? It's a tough call but I think The Smartest Giant In Town gets my vote grin

northerngran Thu 23-Feb-12 20:44:01

glass - great minds eh?

hummingbird Thu 23-Feb-12 21:11:51

Where did the idea for the Gruffalo spring from? Did you think up the whole story at the start or did it emerge as you went along? It is the most wonderful story!

glassortwo Fri 24-Feb-12 07:52:21

Hi Julia,

At bedtime last night my Dg chose Zog, I applaud the girl wanting to be a Dr rather than wear a frilly dress especially in this age of Barbie hype for pink and frilly, was this intentional.

jakesgran Sat 25-Feb-12 08:06:59

I would like to know more about the new Goat book. One if my DGC is due to start playgroup after Easter so rather timely for me. Did you write it because of a personal experience - or was it something you were approached to do? I've just ordered it grin

pinkhater Sun 26-Feb-12 21:10:57

Not really a question but I just had to take the opportunity to thank you Julia for all the pleasure you give to us children's book lovers. It must be a great feeling knowing that your books will be read for generations to come and that somebody somewhere is reading or listening to one of your books at any time of the day or night. Your skill with rhyme is amazing. I'm sure that you must actually think in rhyme, as you make it seem so effortless.
I look forward to all your books that I haven't yet encountered.
Thank you.

artygran Mon 27-Feb-12 13:07:56

How did your collaboration with Alex Scheffler come about? He's a brilliant illustrator and it seems he was just made to illustrate your wonderful stories. Room on the Broom is one of the first proper story books my grandson and I read together and he would bring it out again and again.

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 28-Feb-12 12:52:38

I couldn't not ask a question! We have loved the films of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child and are hoping there are more in the pipeline. Are there?! And if so what's next?

kittyp Wed 29-Feb-12 10:20:26

I would also like to thank you for many, many hours of reading pleasure. We also enjoy the CDs of a number of the books. I know you play the guitar but wondered whether you write the music for the songs yourself as well as the words?

ThisIsNotWhatIWas Thu 01-Mar-12 23:05:07

Thanks, thanks a million, thanks without end. smile Is there a tune or rhythm you would recommend for the song in the smartest giant? We're new to it and I can't figure out one that works smile. My 2 and a half year old loves all of your books that we have read to him, at the moment Room On The Broom aka Witch Story is his absolute favourite. I don't know how we would have established a bedtime routine without the help of poor Stick Man and his odyssey, I even knitted him leaves and all. grin. Apologies for the bad spelling and grammar I'm using my phone.

eggmayo Fri 02-Mar-12 10:21:04

What's your favourite of the books you've written and why? I know it's like choosing your favourite kind of chocolate cake (spoilt for choice), but maybe the one you enjoy rereading the most.

mjhubba Fri 02-Mar-12 10:47:11

Hello Julia. I know you have said that you are very concerned about library closures. I am currently campaigning to save the Upper Norwood Joint Library in Crystal Palace, London, SE19. At present we have until the 31st of this month to persuade Croydon council to re-instate their funding. How important do you think libraries are for our children? Would you be able to help us in some way with our campaign?
With respect and best wishes (and, speaking as a parent, huge thanks for all the wonderful books you have made. You have given us hours of pleasure!)

grannyactivist Fri 02-Mar-12 11:07:31

H Julia and thanks for joining us here on Gransnet.
I grew up in a council house in a very deprived area, in a household which would now be termed as 'underclass'. Books were my salvation. I learned to read and devour books and my life went in a completely different direction from my contemporaries. Apart from 'The Ruggles' though, the characters in the books I read were all middle class and their lives had no similarity to mine. I know that one of my heroes, Bob Holman who you no doubt met when you were writer in residence at Easterhouse, has expressed the hope that you "will now write stories which depict the courage and positive attributes of children in places like Easterhouse". Have you written/do you plan to write stories like this?

grannyactivist Fri 02-Mar-12 11:10:03

PS, sorry Julia - I should also have said that both as a teacher and as a parent and grandparent your books have been a source of great pleasure. smile

Nsube Fri 02-Mar-12 11:43:57

I'd like to know what books you read as a child. I read Enid Blyton, Angela Brazil and all sorts of rubbish. But they turned me into a reader. I'm just so envious of children today who have a wealth of wonderful writing to enjoy - your books being some of the very best.

Have you been inspired or influenced by any other children's writers?

Sorry that's two questions!

cm22v077 Fri 02-Mar-12 11:49:11

Hi Julia,
How did you find the experience of making the TV adaption of The Gruffalo?

scribblegranny Fri 02-Mar-12 11:51:32

Hi Julia, Thanks for coming on - what a treat!

When did you start writing? I only became aware of your books about 10 years ago, but you seem to have written so many.

Are you very prolific? Or was I just slow catching on?!

torridtimes Fri 02-Mar-12 12:00:05

Are you enjoying being the Children's Laureate? What does it entail and did you have any qualms about accepting?

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 02-Mar-12 12:00:58

Great excitement in the office - Julia Donaldson is her and ready to answer your questions so welcome Julia - and now over to you!

baggage Fri 02-Mar-12 12:01:41

Did you always want to be a writer? And did you always want to write for children?

grannyactivist Fri 02-Mar-12 12:01:58

Hello Julia - as they say in Parliament, I refer you to my earlier question. smile

swizzle Fri 02-Mar-12 12:06:30

Thanks so much for this, Julia, my DGCs are great fans of your books (as are Mr Swizzle and I).

Do you have to be very disciplined with your writing, or do you just write when the fancy takes you?