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Julia Donaldson webchat, Wednesday 28 August, 9-10pm

(180 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 23-Aug-13 09:48:19

We're thrilled that acclaimed author and former Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson is our webchat guest on Wed 28 August.

A Squash and a Squeeze, The Gruffalo, Zog, Room on the Broom, Tiddler and a host of other best-loved books have endeared her to countless children.

Her latest book is The Further Adventures of The Owl and the Pussy-cat, in which she revisits Edward Lear's favourite rhyme, with beautiful illustrations by Charlotte Voake.

So, if you're a fan, please grab a glass or a cuppa and come and chat to Julia about her writing at 9pm on Wednesday.

And if you can't make the webchat itself, do post a question in advance.

As a taster, take a peek at this exclusive new Mumsnet video of Julia, and her husband Malcolm, singing their brand new Owl and the Pussy-cat song. (There are on-screen lyrics if you want to use it as a sing-a-long with little 'uns.)

JuliaDonaldson Wed 28-Aug-13 21:43:58

PacificDogwood

Julia!! Hi!! <<waves manically>>

No - you don't know me; I am simply unreasonably excited to have found this webchat and am rather star-struck.

I saw you and your husband perform The Stickman at the Goethe Institute in Glasgow several years ago. You were both marvellous and I had to hide the book afterwards because come July I was weary of reading a story with a Christmas (kinda) theme...

So, here's my question: what possessed you and your lovely DH to perform in a foreign language?! So brave, and so fun and a memory I treasure.

Hope you are both very well indeed x.

We really enjoyed performing at the Goethe institute. The inspiration for learning the books in German was Axel Scheffler, who hails from Hamburg though he lives in London.

JuliaDonaldson Wed 28-Aug-13 21:45:46

VivClicquot

Hello Julia,

More fans of all your stories here. My 2 year old can recite the whole of the Gruffalo, Gruffalo's Child but her absolute favourite is the Paper Dolls. I wish you could see her running around the house singing "They were Ticky and Tacky and Jackie..." smile

Anyway, my question is that some of your stories have quite dark passages in - I'm thinking specifically of the Paper Dolls where the little boy cuts the dolls into thousands of tiny pieces. Is it hard to strike the balance between having an 'edge' to your stories and the traditional 'happy ever after' ending of most children's stories?

THE PAPER DOLLS is probably the most poignant of all my books, as it has a theme of bereavement and memory. But I like to think that the resolution is a hopeful one. The book also celebrates play and the imagination. I am so thrilled with Rebecca Cobb's illustrations. She really "got" the story.

Joycey29 Wed 28-Aug-13 21:46:33

Love your books - as do my kids!
So pleased that rhyming books are still being seen to be great, despite concerns they don't translate!

tryasimight Wed 28-Aug-13 21:47:06

hi julia, my 5 yr old daughter has been listening to your books for years now.

for her 5th birthday this summer I bought her a copy of the singing mermaid.

she was enthralled by it and when we read it for the first time she was horrified by the mermaid being trapped in the fish tank.

the story was handled so beautifully and always ends well, which I know as a parent makes me breathe a sigh of relief.

I have always wondered how you feel as an author introducing themes like being fearful or abandoned to such a young audience?

Oh, thanks for that - I had no idea Axel was German (although the name is a bit of a giveaway I suppose blush)

Reading your books gives me serious creativity-envy and I dread the day when my kids are too old to be valid excuses to keep buying your books.

JuliaDonaldson Wed 28-Aug-13 21:47:59

WhatALark

Hi Julia, I wish to join in the chorus of parents thanking you for creating such fabulous, entertaining, and well-written books. My son and I greatly enjoy your stories, especially The Snail and the Whale - it's such a beautiful tale!

My question is, other than the magnificent Edward Lear, which authors did you enjoy as a child?

I liked so many different authors! Among my favourites were E. Nesbit, Richmal Crompton (who wrote the William books), Mary Norton (The Borrowers), and some books about a schoolgirl called Penny, written by A. Steven (or Stephen?) Tring. Oh, and some terrific school stories by Nancy Breary, but you don't hear about her these days.

Sconset Wed 28-Aug-13 21:49:08

Thank you Julia, I hadn't realised when I posted originally that you'd done a sequel to the Owl and the Pussy Cat, rather than re-written it! blush

I am sure it will be as loved in this house as your other books are!

When my eldest was tiny, I misguidedly sang the Smartest Giant in Town refrain to my DD... who then insisted every time the same, and now it's a standard in our house. Please don't ever write a song for that one... or I'll be scuppered when I'm found out wink

As amazing as I think Axel Scheffler is as an illustrator (and I do adore his style), I have a real soft spot for The Troll, and its illustrations- it just has a wonderful atmosphere (the Troll himself has a sort of wc London accent I've found...)

GoldenHares Wed 28-Aug-13 21:49:39

Thank you Julia, your books have brought so much shared enjoyment at bedtimes for my daughters and I.

Thank you.

JuliaDonaldson Wed 28-Aug-13 21:49:42

tryasimight

hi julia, my 5 yr old daughter has been listening to your books for years now.

for her 5th birthday this summer I bought her a copy of the singing mermaid.

she was enthralled by it and when we read it for the first time she was horrified by the mermaid being trapped in the fish tank.

the story was handled so beautifully and always ends well, which I know as a parent makes me breathe a sigh of relief.

I have always wondered how you feel as an author introducing themes like being fearful or abandoned to such a young audience?

I'm glad you like THE SINGING MERMAID, which is one of the most enjoyable ones to act out. (We have a life-size puppet, and my husband acts wicked Sam Sly.) I actually think that children can cope with quite serious plights and themes as long as there is a happy or at least hopeful ending.

TheOldestCat Wed 28-Aug-13 21:51:08

Hi Julia. We're massive fans in this house - we saw you and the gang at Hay (and we especially liked Malcolm in The Gruffalo!)

Paper Dolls made me cry (my DC's have lost their kind granny). It's beautiful - thank you.

My question - if you've time - which current children's authors do you admire?

cheers.

VivClicquot Wed 28-Aug-13 21:51:33

Thank you so much for the reply. As an aside and at the risk of outing myself, my nickname for most of my life (due to my surname) has been Broom, so I can't help but giggle whenever I hear anyone ask whether there is room on the broom... smile

JuliaDonaldson Wed 28-Aug-13 21:51:41

Sconset

Thank you Julia, I hadn't realised when I posted originally that you'd done a sequel to the Owl and the Pussy Cat, rather than re-written it! blush

I am sure it will be as loved in this house as your other books are!

When my eldest was tiny, I misguidedly sang the Smartest Giant in Town refrain to my DD... who then insisted every time the same, and now it's a standard in our house. Please don't ever write a song for that one... or I'll be scuppered when I'm found out wink

As amazing as I think Axel Scheffler is as an illustrator (and I do adore his style), I have a real soft spot for The Troll, and its illustrations- it just has a wonderful atmosphere (the Troll himself has a sort of wc London accent I've found...)

Sorry - there IS a song for THE SMARTEST GIANT! (I know you don't want to hear it, but if anyone does, it's included in our song book ROOM ON THE BROOM AND OTHER SONGS.) But loads of parents have made up their own tunes, which I think is fantastic. Maybe there should be a new audio with all the different versions on it, sung by the mums and dads!

JuliaDonaldson Wed 28-Aug-13 21:53:13

TheOldestCat

Hi Julia. We're massive fans in this house - we saw you and the gang at Hay (and we especially liked Malcolm in The Gruffalo!)

Paper Dolls made me cry (my DC's have lost their kind granny). It's beautiful - thank you.

My question - if you've time - which current children's authors do you admire?

cheers.

I admire Meg Rosoff, Michael Rosen, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Malorie Blackman, among many others.

SPBisResisting Wed 28-Aug-13 21:55:19

This thread has been really interesting reading smile I know I'm not supposed to do this but I'd be really grateful if you have time, to answer my question.

JuliaDonaldson Wed 28-Aug-13 21:58:37

SPBisResisting

This thread has been really interesting reading smile I know I'm not supposed to do this but I'd be really grateful if you have time, to answer my question.

Hi! I did actually answer your question about the feminist aspect of ZOG, but maybe something went wrong. Anyway, I suppose I am a feminist, even though initially Princess Pearl was going to be a boy (a trainee knight). My husband, who's a doctor, is maybe the reason why I made Pearl aspire to that career.

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 28-Aug-13 21:58:39

Hey everyone,

Alas, the hour is over - thanks so much for your fantastic questions, and huge thanks to Julia, for answering so many of them so brilliantly.

JuliaDonaldson Wed 28-Aug-13 22:00:01

Goodby everyone and thanks for some really interesting questions. My apologies if I unwittingly left anyone out. Now I'm off for an early night so that I'll be in good form tomorrow for the launch party of THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF THE OWL AND THE PUSSY-CAT.

SPBisResisting Wed 28-Aug-13 22:00:15

Ah! Sorry if I missed your response, have been refreshing madly! Thank you

SPBisResisting Wed 28-Aug-13 22:01:19

How did I miss that? I have been sitting here reading and also slightly sulky grin

edam Wed 28-Aug-13 22:06:15

Ooh, I missed the webchat but she answered my question! And gave me some book ideas for ds. smile Am now settling down to read the thread.

Sconset Wed 28-Aug-13 22:06:49

Aw- thank you so much! thanks

Thank you so much and good luck for the launch tomorrow smile

TheOldestCat Wed 28-Aug-13 22:37:28

Thanks, Julia. Good luck with the new book.

WafflyVersatile Wed 28-Aug-13 22:53:16

Thanks for solving that mystery for me, Julia. smile

I knew I'd miss being online at the right time tonight.

I wanted to ask what she said on BBC breakfast this morning. It sounded like I don't give a 'swearyword', I don't give a fig. But that seems unlikely.

Carriepreston Thu 29-Aug-13 10:33:33

Thank you for answering my question smile

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