Make Room on Your Shelf for a Whale, Snail, Stick, Witch, Troll and a Gruffalo!


Julia Donaldson…

Not often do I give much attention to authors of children’s books, well at least I hadn’t before. As my kids get older and their love of books stronger, I have been paying closer attention to the authors and even illustrators.

Julia is a name that has stuck with me. I want to meet her. I want to hear her voice. I would love to shake her hand! Her books are the bomb!

We’re always searching for new Julia books. Thankfully our local bookstore, Volume One Bookstore, carries several of them. Her most popular books are The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, the latter our all-time favourite. They’ve even been adapted, along with Stick Man and Room on the Broom, into short films, films narrated by popular actors/actresses including Helena Bonham Carter and Martin Freeman.

We love her books so much, the messages, the syntax and rhyming, and illustrations (often done by Axel Scheffler) that I decided to write a post about them. We also picked up The Snail and the Whale recently. Audrey was allowed to pick out something at the bookstore and I pushed her in that direction and away from the soap-making kit. Julia’s books make great gifts for kids birthdays and you just might want to pick up a few for Spring Break.

Here are Jack’s favourites (in his order):


The Gruffalo’s Child

I can’t count how many times we’ve read this book. It doesn’t get old. The repetitious lines, "Aha! Oho! A trail in the snow!/ Whose is this trail and where does it go?" are super fun to read and every line in the book gives you room and the inspiration to play around with your tone of voice and how you choose to read it. This sequel from The Gruffalo introduces the Gruffalo's child, a super cute fuzzy, bright-eyed girl, with barely budding horns, who goes in search of the mythical Big Bad Mouse. I love how the roles are reversed, the monster is scared of a teeny mouse. We’ve been reading this book since Jack was three years old.

He’s now seven and still enjoys it!


Room on the Broom

This book follows a magical journey with a witch, a very nice witch I must say, who loses some of her accessories as she flies. With the help of various animals who help her retrieve them, she generously offers room to all of them she encounters on her journey. I think it teaches children how to overcome differences and how to work together to help a friend (when the dragon makes an appearance).

Again, it’s super fun to read, with lots of repetition and rhyming, which are key elements to helping kids learn to read.


The Troll

This book follows the story of a troll who lives under a bridge and is fed up of eating fish and on the look out for a tasty goat to cook. Tricked by different animals into going further down the river towards the sea, he sets off with his frying pan and “cookery” book in search of a goat. I love how he calls it a cookery book. Jack now calls our cook books that too. At the same time, the story also follows a group of pirates (with super fun names) searching for treasure and craving a well-cooked dinner of fish. Fate brings the two parties together. This book has a different illustrator but it’s just as amazing as the others.


The Snail and the Whale

This one reminds all of us of the classic tale and another favourite book of ours by William Steig, Amos and Boris, a story about a whale becoming friends with a mouse, and saving the mouse and giving him a ride (in the end, the mouse ends up saving the beached whale). In Julia’s version, the tiny creature is a snail, who in the end also comes to the rescue of the beached whale, also after a long journey they’ve taken together.

It’s a cute tale of friendship and helping one another. The illustrations are magnificent.


Stick Man

This book is one of Julia’s only books that features Christmas in the story. It starts with a living stick of wood complete with a home and family (talk about imagination). Daddy stick wakes up early one morning to go for a jog, only to be snatched by a stick-loving dog. That’s the first of one of many hilarious misfortunes that take him further and further from home.

Stick Man’s redemption comes in the form of saving Santa, who’s stuck in a chimney, and in the end is delivered home, at last, by sleigh.


There you have it! There are tons more too and we can’t wait to read them all!

Ashley Degraaf