Julia Donaldson, born in London in 1948, already exhibited a great interest in poetry as a child, devising her own plays and musicals. After studying Theatre and French at the University of Bristol, she worked for several years as a proof-reader, journalist and teacher. With Malcolm Donaldson, whom she married later, the street musician dedicated her artistic skills to her love for the theatre and music. Both joined for several tours in Europe, and jointly they sang songs of the Beatles and others, later also Julia Donaldson’s own compositions. A successful period as composer of songs for children’s television ensued. Her first children’s book, »A Squash and a Squeeze« (1993), is an adaptation of a song of the same name and describes the relativity of things with subtle humour. »A Squash and a Squeeze« also marked the beginning of her highly successful collaboration with the book’s illustrator Axel Scheffler which continues to this day.
Axel Scheffler, born in Hamburg in 1957, studied Art History in Hamburg which, as he puts it, »came to nothing«. After studying Visual Communications at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, he worked as an illustrator for magazines and agencies. He also illustrated children’s books and soon established himself as a sought-after artist in this field. Scheffler’s almost sculptural illustrations are only cute in the first place at first glance . Further examination reveals a refined and enigmatic graphic universe rich with details. His illustrations are distinguished by clean lines and luminous, almost oversaturated colour.
The picture book »The Gruffalo« (1999) is Donaldson and Scheffler’s most successful joint project to date. It was awarded the Smarties Prize, translated into 40 languages, and has already become an acknowledged classic of children’s literature. With Donaldson’s catchy rhymes and Scheffler’s original constellation of figures, »The Gruffalo« tells the story of a mouse who invents the sinister Gruffalo monster to scare her enemies – until it suddenly appears before her, very real and very big. Scheffler and Donaldson added unexpected perspectives as they carried the story further with »The Gruffalo’s Child« (2004).
Julia Donaldson has three children and lives with her husband in Glasgow. The multiple-award winning author – who was named Children’s Laureate in June 2011 – writes poems, songs, plays and musicals and has published more than 120 children’s books. Axel Scheffler, one of the most important contemporary children’s and youth book illustrators, has, like Donaldson, received numerous awards and lives with his partner and daughter in London.
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