A Gruffalo? What’s a Gruffalo?

Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson who will be visiting Derry in January.
Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson who will be visiting Derry in January.

He has knobbly knees, and turned-out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose - but none of that stops The Gruffalo being a firm favourite among children of all ages. And now, in a real coup for the children of the City of Culture, his creator Julia Donaldson will be visiting Derry in January to enthrall and entertain local readers and writers.

Currently the UK’s Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson has written countless books which have entertained a generation of children.

From the multi-million selling tale of the Gruffalo to classics such as Room on the Broom or The Snail and the Whale - Julia’s reputation precedes her. But it is through the determination of local publishing house Dog Ears that she will be visting the city on January 21 - where she will hold an hour long sing-a-long session - complete with a visit from The Gruffalo himself - at the Millennium Forum at 1pm, followed by a book signing session afterwards.

Tickets for the event will be priced at just £5 - a price made possible thanks to the generous support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The event has also been sponsored and supported by the Book Trust, the Millennium Forum, Libraries NI and the Verbal Arts Centre.

Along with the Millennium Forum visit Julia will also be opening an exhibition in the Central Library showcasing original illustrations from her books, front covers etc from a range of world class illustrators including Axel Scheffler, Lydia Monks, Nick Sharratt and others .

Julia will also be joined by Irish Children’s Laureate Siobhan Parkinson for an “In Conversation with...”event at the Verbal Arts centre hosted by by Marie-Louise Muir of Radio Ulster’s Arts Extra Programme - aimed at adults - aspiring writers, teachers and readers that evening.

Fionnuala Deane of Dog Ears explained their involement in the scheme. “We want to promote literacy and foster a life-long love of reading. We arrange entertaining interactive reading events in association with a range of partners (libraries, schools, charities), bringing much-loved authors and illustrators to their young audience.

“There are very few cultural events of this nature available to children and their families in the North West at the moment. However, there is a very strong need – Derry is the youngest city in Europe – we have a population of 110,000 almost 40% of whom are under 25.

“By hosting events our plan is two fold: we want to create a community of supporters and potential customers for all our content; we also want to normalise this type of cultural activity for the people of Derry - to offer them the very best authors and illustrators from the world of children’s media right on their doorstep.”

Liz Canning of Booktrust NI, who are supporting the event, said: “I am delighted to be working with Dog Ears on a series of family events which will undoubtedly enthuse and inspire children to love and enjoy books and the lifelong benefits that they bring. It is such privilege to work in partnership with a dynamic children’s publisher that shares the same vision and mission as Booktrust and has the enthusiasm and commitment to bring such exciting events to Derry.”

For tickets to this event contact the Millennium Forum on 71264455.