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Emotional ties: Children’s book author Julia Donaldson on busking, book tours and beaded Gruffalos

August 29, 2017 10:09 AM
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Rebecca Cobb, who illustrated my book The Everywhere Bear, which came out this year, made this bear for me. The story was inspired by a visit to a school years ago where they had a little bear that children took turns to take home.

This is Madam Dragon, who teaches my character Zog at dragon school. As well as writing, I put on a lot of shows with my husband Malcolm, and my sister Mary, too. I always play Madam Dragon – she’s kind, but a stern, quite strict schoolteacher.

I grew up in a tall Victorian terraced house in Hampstead with my parents and sister and also my grandmother, aunt and uncle, who lived on different floors. Granny read Pepito by Sheila Hawkins to us – it’s a captivating book about a Spanish boy who goes off to have adventures with the gypsies. It had a big influence on me.

The prizes for the Nibbies – the colloquial name for The British Book Awards – are these lovely gold nibs. This one was for The Gruffalo’s Child [in 2005]. I keep it in my study.

This picture of Malcolm and me was taken around 1970. We married in 1972 and on 30 September we will celebrate our sapphire anniversary – 45 years!

The Ugly Five, Julia’s new picture book with Axel Scheffler, will be published by Alison Green Books on 7 September, price £12.99, to order a copy for £9.74 until 10 September, visit, or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.


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