Gruffalo author is the new children's laureate

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Julia Donaldson, the author of The Gruffalo, has been appointed the seventh Children's Laureate.

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Ms Donaldson, who has written over 120 books and plays, including children’s picture books The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and Stick Man, was presented with the award by Baroness Floella Benjamin, chair of the Children’s Laureate 2011-2013.

She takes over as the new children’s laureate from illustrator Anthony Browne for a two-year term.

Ms Donaldson says that she wants to use her new role to explore the possibility of a regular book or story slot on radio or television, to promote stories for deaf children and support libraries, many of which have been affected by government spending cuts.

‘As someone with minor hearing difficulties myself, I am very interested in promoting signed stories for deaf children, and of course I want to add my voice as Children’s Laureate to the libraries campaign. So drama, music, stories for deaf children, libraries, plus building on the great work of my six predecessors as laureate: these will be my "big things", and they are all linked to the ‘biggest thing of all’ – the pleasure and richness to be gained from reading.’

Julie Donaldson, who is the first Scottish-based laureate, started her career writing songs for children’s television, one of which A Squash and a Squeeze, was turned into a book. This prompted the author to start writing plays and verse. Her breakthrough, she claims, was The Gruffalo, which has sold nearly two million copies worldwide and been translated into 30 languages.

On her website, she says that she knew on her fifth birthday that she wanted to be a writer.

‘For my fifth birthday, my father gave me a very fat book called The Book of a Thousand Poems. I loved it. I read the poems, recited them, learnt them, and then started making up some of my own. Although I wanted to be a poet all those years ago, I later decided I would rather go on the stage. That didn’t quite work out, so I did other jobs – teaching and publishing. But somehow I’ve ended up doing what I wanted to do when I was five-years-old. I have a theory that this happens to quite a lot of people.’

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