Interview: Julia Donaldson on her role as children’s laureate
Author of The Gruffalo, Superworm, Stick Man and Tiddler
No rest for the acclaimed children’s author
The job of a Children’s laureate is never done. It’s not enough for Julia Donaldson to produce her celebrated picture books – favourites such as The Gruffalo, Superworm, Stick Man and Tiddler with their gorgeous illustrations by Axel Scheffler – and neither is it enough simply to promote them with appearances at book festivals and schools. On top of this, the Glasgow-based author has to make herself available for all kinds of demands along the way.
‘I am enjoying it, but it is very full-on,’ she says. ‘Your diary’s pretty full anyway and then suddenly Maurice Sendak dies and Channel 4 News or the Today Programme want you to be a spokesperson, so you never know what extra things are going to be thrown at you.’
Undeterred, she’s been on the road this autumn doing a six-week tour of British libraries, starting in Thurso and finishing in Carlisle, with dates in Northern Ireland to follow. It’s her way of celebrating libraries and protesting against the cuts, using her position to influence an important public debate.
Meanwhile, she feels duty-bound to repay the loyalty of her most exacting of readerships. ‘I’ve just spent the whole day answering fan mail, sitting here writing to these kids,’ she says. ‘If you get 30 schools writing to you and there’s 30 letters from each school and each child asks eight questions, that’s tens of thousands of questions a week to answer, so you have to condense it, but I think it’s nice to answer.’