Tuesday, 20 March 2018

A Love Letter to Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

(Most of) our Donaldson/Scheffler collection

Dear Julia and Axel

I hope it's OK for me to use your first names. It seems a bit forward as I've never met you, but then again, you feel like part of the family. Because your books have been for nearly six years now.

It all started with a copy of 'The Gruffalo' that a work colleague gave me when I was pregnant, as her children had outgrown it. If you look carefully at the photo above that book is the most worn, but not just because it was second hand to us. When my daughter was one it quickly became her favourite book, and she would ask me to read it over and over. I still remember the day I read it ten times in a row as she gleefully cried, "den!" (again) every time I turned the final page.

I started scouring my local library for your other books, but they were like gold dust. I knew that there were plenty of your titles to be had, the trouble was all the other parents were looking for the same books! We got a long way through your back catalogue thanks to the library but it was hard to part with them after three short weeks. I started acquiring our own copies instead. When my daughter started school I found myself aided and abetted by the Scholastic catalogue that came home in her book bag, and before I knew it we'd amassed a huge collection of your books, as you can see above. (That's not even all of it - I realised after taking the photo that I'd left out 'Hide-And-Seek Pig', and I've got a copy of 'Room On The Broom' on the way!)

Now my two year old son is captivated by your work too. I'm back to repeated readings of 'The Gruffalo', although 'Zog' is another firm favourite of his. And the thing is, I'm actively encouraging his love of your books because I love them too. I love the lyricism of 'The Snail And The Whale', the invitation to use lots of funny voices in 'Tiddler' and the feisty feminism of 'Zog' and the sequel 'Zog and the Flying Doctors'. I love the simple wit of 'Monkey Puzzle', the moral message of 'The Smartest Giant In Town' and the clever pastiche of 'The Highway Rat'. I even love 'Stick Man' so much I crocheted him, along with his Stick Lady Love and their Stick Children Three!

The Stick Family
We love your individual work too - my daughter was really helped by the Pip and Posy books as an older toddler and preschooler, and my son will often demand a reading of 'What The Ladybird Heard' complete with enthusiastic animal noises - but something magical happens when Donaldson's words and Scheffler's images come together. You've created a set of children's classics that I'm sure will be just as loved if and when I have grandchildren to read to.

So thank you to both of you, for creating books that fuel both of my children's love of reading and that are so wonderful to read aloud as an adult.

Yours gratefully

A book-loving Mum


  1. These books are such classics aren't they, perfect for the whole family to enjoy together #readwithme

  2. I love these books so much! Our first one was Monkey Puzzle and it was such a relief after the crappy children's books we'd been reading until then. We soon bought the entire back catalogue and all the new books as they came out. Our last one was Highwayman Rat, after that I really did have to accept that the kids were too old for them! My favourite is The Snail and the Whale. Unfortunately I found it impossible to read it without crying.

    1. The Snail and the Whale is my favourite too! I'll be devastated when my youngest is too old for them. I think I''ll have to start working in early years just so I have an excuse to still read them!

  3. This letter could have been written by me and I love the way you've written this post! We love these books so much and I know so many of them off by heart. Whenever we get to the end of a story my boys look at the pictures of the other books at the end and count up the ones we have. #Readwithme

    1. Ahh yes I noticed yesterday that my 2 year old has started pointing at the ones we have at the back of the book! Not long before he'll be demanding the ones we haven't got yet like his sister used to!