Julia Donaldson is one of our absolute favorite authors, so there was no doubt in my mind that I would feature her in my All About Authors series! She writes in catchy rhymes about whimsical creatures and animals. Many of her books feature themes of friendship, family, and perseverance. We were first introduced to Donaldson's work after our book store offered a special on a board book copy of Room On The Broom. After that, we were hooked! While you may be familiar with some of her work, I'd like to help you dig a little deeper with these book reviews, crafts and activities, and other resources.
A Little Bit About Julia Donaldson
Julia Donaldson was born in 1948 in London. She studied studied drama and French, and had a career as a children's songwriter for television shows before becoming and children's book author. Ms. Donaldson has written over 90 books, many of which are illustrated by German illustrator Axel Scheffler. She has won many awards for her books, and served as Children's Laureate (a distinguished position in the UK) from 2011 to 2013.
Our Favorite Julia Donaldson Books
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Click on a cover image or title to learn more about each book.
You may sometimes see this book with the alternate title of Monkey Puzzle. A little monkey is lost and asks a butterfly for help in finding his mom. The monkey describes his mother, but the butterfly finds the wrong animal mother based on the monkey's description. Finally, the monkey explains that his mother looks like him and the butterfly is able to help (and didn't realize what to look for sooner because her own babies- caterpillars- look nothing like her). We enjoyed this story that led us around to the different jungle animals and made us think about how the butterfly's own life experience shaped her perspective of the world.
Superworm is a hero to many animal friends. He uses his super strength and super length to rescue little critters who are in a jam. When Superworm is captured, and made to work for an evil lizard, the friends that he helped come to his rescue. I love this rhyming story about friendship, and also liked showing my daughters a friendlier side of creepy crawlies!
Zog is a enrolled in dragon school, and is very bright. He is, however, very clumsy and runs into trouble while learning to fly, to roar, to breathe fire, and to capture princesses. Zog meets and befriends a princess whose true calling is medicine. Together, Zog, the princess, and a knight who has come to rescue her, are able to follow their true passions. I especially loved the dragon illustrations in this A Gold Star For Zog. Axel Scheffler does monsters particularly well!
This story is perfect for winter or Christmastime. Stick Man lives with his wife and kids in a hollow tree, but is carried off by a dog wanting to play fetch. After a series of grand adventures that take him farther and farther away from home, Stick Man eventually finds his way home in time for Christmas. This book scared my girls and made them a little bit more scared than all some of Donaldson's others, perhaps because of the "being away from your family" theme, but they were okay in the end.
The Gruffalo is perhaps Julia Donaldson's most well known book. A little mouse is trying to take a stroll through the forest and keeps referring to a mysterious creature known as a Gruffalo to the animals that are looking to eat him. Finally the mouse runs into the actual Gruffalo and is able to use his wits to get himself safely back through the forest. The rhymes in this story are especially clever, and my daughters love being just a little bit scared by the description of the Gruffalo.
Room On The Broom is a Halloween classic! A witch and her cat are out for a moonlit ride on her broom, but the wind keeps blowing things away! Friendly animals on the ground help the witch find her items, and ask for a ride on the broom in exchange. Finally the witch has to get clever and make a NEW broom that will hold all her new friends. We love the crazy broom that she creates at the end!
A friendly giant trades his old raggedy clothes for some fresh duds. But then as he walks home, other animals are in need and his clothes are able to help. He finds himself in nothing but his undershirt and pants and realizes that his old clothes were just fine after all. This book may have been my girls favorite from the library. They especially liked learning what the word "spiffy" meant and have been using it ever since! I especially liked the message of kindness towards others.
The Snail And The Whale is one of my favorite stories from Donaldson and Scheffler! A little snail wants to see the world, so he tags along with a whale on his annual migration. When the whale is in trouble, the tiny snail is able to find a way to help. The rhymes in this story are brilliant and catchy, and again, the lessons of friendship are nice for children to hear.
You may find this story in your library or bookstore under the name The Fish Who Cried Wolf. Tiddler is a little fish who tells many tall tales to explain his tardiness. Finally, a truly fantastic story DOES happen to him. He ends up far from home, but is able to find his way home through a trail of sea creatures who have heard of his exploits. The rhyming cadence of this story isn't as smooth and easy to read as many of Donaldson's other stories, but we enjoy it just the same.
Activities to Accompany Julia Donaldson Books
Paper Plate Gruffalo from Glued To My CraftsThe Gruffalo Shape Animals from The Educator's Spin On It
Chocolate Gruffalo Crumble from Toddler Approved
Going On A Stick Hunt from Playing With Words 365
Room On The Broom
Counting Ingredients in The Cauldron from 3 Dinosaurs
Snail On The Whale
Pin The Snail On The Whale Tail from Peakle Pie
Superworm Play Dough from Fantastic Fun and Learning for Rainy Day Mum
Are You My Mother? Animal Sorting and Story Telling from Fantastic Fun and Learning
Tiddler Paper Plate Fish Collage from Crafty Kids At Home for Rainy Day Mum
Other Julia Donaldson ResourcesGruffalo.com- The official website of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler- LOADS of videos, activity suggestions, printable games and puzzles, merchandise, and more.
Teaching Ideas- Activities and teaching suggestions for many Julia Donaldson books, as well as author fact cards and a printable banner.
Julia Donaldson.co.uk - Julia Donaldson's official website with biographical information and information on her books, poems, and other work.
"How We Met: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler" - An article from the Independent about how the relationship between the formidable author and illustrator duo.
Watch animated versions of The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, Room On The Broom, or Stick Man free with an Amazon prime membership (or even just a free 30 day trial).