This post is part of A to Z Challenge for April 2016. For letter J, I am choosing Julia Donaldson.
A to Z Challenge April 2016: J for Julia Donaldson
Julia Donaldson is one of the most popular authors of children’s books who has written over 150 picture books. Currently Julia Donaldson is Bambi’s favourite author and Bambi loves her popular titles such as ‘The Gruffalo’, ‘The Gruffalo’s child’, ‘Room on the Broom’, ‘The smartest giant in town’. We have read all the books in the picture above and a few more, over and over again. These books are beautiful, Simple, funny, interactive and thoroughly enjoyable. What really sets Julia Donaldson books apart from the rest is the effective use of rhymes and wonderful rhythm to tell the story.
‘The Gruffalo’ is a beautiful story about a little brown mouse and his journey through the forest. The mouse encounters a fox, an owl, and a snake one after the other, who invite him to their respective homes with an intention to eat him. But the mouse thinks on his feet and comes up with a clever tactic to save himself. He claims he is going to have lunch with a ‘Gruffalo’ – a scary creature that he makes up and that the Gruffalo’s favourite food is the very animal that tries to eat him (roasted fox, owl ice cream, scrambled snake) which scares those animals away. Just when the mouse thinks he has managed to escape from his predators, he realizes that his imaginary scary creature is after all true! In the next half of the story, the clever mouse tricks the Gruffalo by presenting himself as the scariest animal in the forest and following another stroll back, he frightens the Gruffalo at the mention of his favourite food – Gruffalo Crumble! Such a lovely book! Fear is gently developed in the story but is soon dissipated with humor to the extent that you end up liking the scary Gruffalo as much as the clever mouse. Of course the book also conveys a useful message that with courage and by thinking calmly one can overcome problems.
In most of her books, Julia Donaldson uses a lot of repetition with variation and great deal of expression within speech which is useful to engage and include the children in the story. Some of the best lines from ‘The Gruffalo’ are:
‘A mouse took a stroll, through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.
Where are you going to little brown mouse?
Come and have tea in my underground house.’
As the mouse’s conversation with one animal ends, the story progresses with the lines:
‘On went the mouse through the deep dark wood,
An owl saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.
Where are you going to little brown mouse?
Come and have lunch in my tree top house.’
Similarly in the book ‘Room on the Broom’, Julia Donaldson uses repetition to introduce the characters of the book. The book is about a Witch and her cat that fly merrily over the forests, rivers and mountains on their broomstick until a stormy wind blows away the witch’s hat initially and then her bow and wand one by one. As the Witch and her cat stop their ride to retrieve the lost items, they meet a dog, a bird and a frog who all want to ride on the broom to which the Witch kindly agrees, much to the annoyance of her cat. Finally the broom snaps in two! The next half of the story involves the Witch meeting a greedy dragon who wants to eat the Witch but the cat, dog, bird and frog cleverly scare the dragon away. Another great book where Julia Donaldson conveys very useful message about kindness, friendship and cooperation. I am amazed at the descriptive vocabulary with which the story starts:
‘The witch had a cat and a very tall hat,
And long ginger hair which she wore in a plait.
How the cat purred and
How the witch grinned,
As they sat on their broomstick
And flew through the wind.’
Wow! Such simple, easy and yet very clever way of narrating the story. The other great lines from the book are:
‘I am a dog as keen as can be, is there room on the broom for a dog like me?’
‘I am a frog as clean as can be, is there room on the broom for a frog like me?’
‘I am a bird as green as can be, is there room on the broom for a bird like me?’
And of course, the Witch’s magical spell:
Iggety, Ziggety, Zaggety Zooom…then out rose a truly magnificent broom!
Not just a great asset for vocabulary, Julia Donaldson books have also served as a good stimulation for Bambi’s imagination. The repetition makes the story quite easily memorable too and I find Bambi using some of the lines from the books to create her own adventure stories:
During one playtime, Bambi pretended to be a mouse and I was supposed to play the cat and chase the mouse. The mouse was hiding behind the sofa and as the cat was looking for the mouse, Bambi went off like this:
On went the Amma (Mommy) through the deep dark room,
Amma saw a Bambi and the Bambi looked good.
Where are you going to, my very pretty Bambi?
Come and have tea in my little sofa house.
One cold winter morning I was curled up on the sofa with my blanket on, when Bambi came up to me and said ,
“ I am a girl as keen as can be. Is there room on your sofa for a pretty girl like me?’’
And then there are several occasions when we have played magic tricks and Bambi goes:
Iggety, Ziggety, Zaggety ,Zoom,
Make the potato disappear soon…..
This afternoon Bambi said she wanted to write a poem and this is how it goes (just as dictated by Bambi. Of course, not all in one flow but she put lot of thought into it and the whole poem was composed in about 15 minutes):
I want to make a favorite song,
A rhyming song with rhyming words.
I think I’ll start with a Frog.
But what rhymes with a frog?
I know only Dog, Log and Bog.
Does Dog rhyme with a Frog?
I think, No, not.
I think let’s make another song,
That is not a rhyming song!
I wanted to make a song with frog,
But now I have changed my mind,
Because I don’t know what rhymes with a frog?
A dog, log or bog?
Now, can we play ‘Pop the Pig?
Wait a second- Does Pig rhyme with a frog?
I think No, not!
No, I don’t want to make a rhyming song,
Because I don’t know what rhymes with a frog!!
Thank you, Julia Donaldson for all your amazing books and for inspiring my little Bambi. Above all, thank you Julia Donaldson for giving me such precious and memorable moments!