Shereen's Sunday interview with Julia Donaldson
This week's special guest on the show was Julia Donaldson, author of that phenomenally successful children's favourite The Gruffalo. Julia's been in the news lately leading the campaign to save our libraries, a cause she feels passionately about. Libraries were a big part of her childhood. That's where she cultivated her love of story-telling. When she told me about her childhood it was clear that she was destined to be a children's writer. She was always performing, making up rhymes, singing sons, and putting on shows for her family.
As a student she went busking in Paris, which is how she met her husband Malcolm, also an enthusiastic musician. She tells a wonderful story of Malcolm diving into the Seine in his underpants to retrieve their hat full of money.
Malcolm became a doctor (his job took them to Glasgow) and Julia continued writing songs and stories at home, trying them out on their three young sons.
For Julia, performance is still an important part of her work. She travels the country going to schools, hospitals, libraries, and Book Festivals, not just giving readings but dressing up, acting out, and singing too. Kids love her. It's a family affair too. Her sister often joins her, and Malcolm still likes to get out his guitar. She tells me they have an entire room at home devoted to props and musical instruments.
If you've never seen her perform her work but love the books (as parents and children do alike) then you'll know that the illustrations play a vital part in bringing the stories to life. Julia described to me the long-distance collaboration process with her favourite illustrators. She asked me to tell you that there'll be an exhibition of her illustrators' work at The Park Gallery in Callendar House, Falkirk from 12th March to 2nd May.
Shereen is broadcast every Sunday on BBC Radio Scotland, 0900-1000