The Gruffalo and Friends

  • 27 July 2006

This article is from 2006.

Imagine hearing Charles Dickens read Great Expectations, or watching Jack Kerouac act out On The Road. Well that’s pretty much how the audience at The Gruffalo and Friends will feel this August. For young picture book readers (and even younger listeners), Julia Donaldson is queen of the nursery bookshelf. And although The Gruffalo is unquestionably her most successful work to date, Donaldson has contributed dozens of books to the kiddie lit canon.

Several of these will be lifted from page to stage when Donaldson and her doctor husband, Malcolm unleash their impressive bag of costumes and props at the Assembly Rooms. With the exception of The Gruffalo and a song from The Gruffalo’s Child, both of which will feature in each show, the Donaldsons will vary the books they deliver. From Monkey Puzzle and Smartest Giant in Town to Room on the Broom and Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book, Donaldson’s back catalogue will provide colourful characters galore.

As anyone who has seen the couple perform at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in recent years knows, audience participation is always high on the agenda. Over half of the show will involve children getting up on stage or joining in from their seats - which takes no small amount of organisation. ‘There’s quite an art to crowd control and you really have to think on your feet,’ she says. ‘Because you’ve got to entertain the audience, be nice to the children on stage and make sure you’re being fair by not choosing the same ones twice.’ (Kelly Apter)

Assembly Rooms, 226 2428, 5-28 Aug (not 14, 21), 11am, £8-£9 (£6-£7). Preview 4 Aug, £5.

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