Readersforum's Blog

January 31, 2012

How we made: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler on The Gruffalo

Filed under: Children's books — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 4:10 pm

If I did the forest today, I’d make it far murkier' … An illustration from The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Photograph: copyright Alex Scheffler 1999

‘My original Gruffalo was scarier, with bigger claws – and the mouse had a Bavarian hat and lederhosen’.

Interviews by Sarah Crown

Julia Donaldson, writer

I used to write short plays for schools. In 1994, I was asked by a publisher if I could come up with something based on a folk story. I unearthed this tale about a girl who goes for a walk in a forest and meets a tiger who threatens to eat her. Thinking quickly, she says: “I’m the queen of the forest: if you eat me, everyone else will take revenge on you.” It’s a lesson in how to harness a greater power than your own. I decided to turn the girl into a mouse and add some more predators – and at that point I thought: “This has the makings of a good picture book.”

I quickly realised that using a tiger would be a problem; I had to invent a predator who wouldn’t really have been in the wood. It was then that I came up with the “Silly old fox, doesn’t he know/ There’s no such thing as a …” couplet. “Gruffalo” just fitted the rhyme.

I submitted the story to the publisher, and they sat on it for a year. I started to think it would never see the light, but one day my husband said: “Look, it’s so good. Why don’t you just send it to Axel?” So I did, although I hardly knew him; he’d illustrated my first book, but I’d only met him once or twice. Within a week I got a letter from Alison Green, Macmillan’s picture book editor, saying he’d shown it to them and they were desperate to publish it.

Click here to read the rest of this story

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 150 other followers

%d bloggers like this: