Tuesday 17 September 2019

Julia Donaldson makes libraries plea as The Gruffalo creator honoured with CBE

The writer’s much-loved books include Stick Man and Room On The Broom.

Children’s author Julia Donaldson has been awarded a CBE (Joe Giddens/PA)
Children’s author Julia Donaldson has been awarded a CBE (Joe Giddens/PA)

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson called for an end to the closure of libraries as she was awarded a CBE.

The 70-year-old, whose books are enjoyed by millions of children around the world, warned that younger generations are losing out.

The Stick Man and Room On The Broom writer said: “I am delighted to receive this honour and regard it as an acknowledgement of the dedication of all those who work in the world of children’s books – the authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, librarians, teachers and organisations and charities that promote the enjoyment of reading.”

But she added: “I also want to take this occasion to highlight how the access of children throughout our country to reading and libraries is endangered with libraries shutting and the jobs of many professional librarians lost.

“This trend needs urgently to be reversed if we want today’s children to have the same opportunities my generation had to become widely-read, informed and imaginative adults.”

In recent years, Donaldson’s picture books have become a staple of the Christmas TV schedules, with the animated films voiced by star-studded casts.

Her clumsy dragon character Zog was brought to the small screen for Christmas Day on BBC One this year.

Donaldson’s other picture books include The Smartest Giant In Town, The Highway Rat, The Snail And The Whale, Tiddler and The Gruffalo’s Child.

Many of the London-born author’s books are illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

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The Alex Scheffler illustration of Julia Donaldson’s Gruffalo (Alex Scheffler/PA)

Before writing books, Donaldson went busking and then embarked on a career in singing and songwriting, mostly for children’s TV.

She was commissioned to write about “guinea pigs, window-cleaning and horrible smells”.

A typical request from the BBC was “We want a song about throwing crumpled-up wrapping paper into the bin”, she writes on her website.

Her first book was the publication of one of her TV songs, A Squash And A Squeeze, in 1993.

The Gruffalo, about a monster, was her “real breakthrough” in 1999.

The bestselling author, also a playwright, served as Children’s Laureate between 2011 and 2013.

Her comments about libraries come after an analysis of Government figures revealed that libraries in England have had their funding slashed for the fifth year in a row.

The Library Campaign, a national charity, said further cuts to stretched services were “like taking a hammer to a wall that’s already full of holes”.

Donaldson is awarded a CBE in the New Year Honours list for services to literature.

PA Media

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