Bearsden’s Julia is new kids’ laureate

julia donaldson hand in 14.1.09
julia donaldson hand in 14.1.09

POPULAR Bearsden author Julia Donaldson became the first Scottish-based children’s laureate this week.

The best-selling writer, most famous for her Gruffalo stories, said she is looking forward to the challenges that the new role will bring over the next two years.

Ms Donaldson said: “The laureateship is an honour but it’s not the kind of honour you can just bask in, so I’m planning to have quite an active couple of years.

“I’m hoping to bring some drama and music to the job. I always act out my own stories with lots of audience participation so I’m planning to do lots more of that. I hope to encourage and inspire children to dramatise stories, though it’s too early to say whether there will be one major theatrical event.”

One of her predecessors, the poet Michael Rosen, said she is ideal for the position. He said: “She has written such accessible and brilliant books and she’s so clever and funny. She believes in taking her stuff out to kids, and sharing it.”

Julia (62) becomes the seventh laureate and has also been described as a “wonderful choice” by one of her predecessors, the illustrator Anthony Browne, who wrote to her urging her to do everything she can to support libraries. He said: “God knows, they need every bit of help they can get nowadays if there are closures everyone will pay the price in the long term.”

However, Julia has already been campaigning hard for this cause, she led a protest meeting at the Scottish parliament, regularly signs petitions and has turned up at libraries in Scotland and England to show her support for them and she intends to keep doing this and more.

Ms Donaldson added: “I’d love to do a libraries tour from Land’s End to John O’Groats. The children who would come to events in libraries would have been briefed beforehand that they would perform something to me, so the first 10 minutes of each session they might perform a class poem they had written or act out a favourite picture book.

“Maybe I’ll be able to talk to the minister of culture and persuade the government to have some kind of overall plan because at the moment I feel all the library cuts and closures are very piecemeal, so I’ll do what I can.”

One thing that’s certain is that she is going to be kept busy as she already receives sackloads of mail from children across the world - and her favourite letters are displayed on her bathroom wall.