Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are my favourite pairing of author and illustrator in children’s literature. I was captivated from the first time we read ‘The Gruffalo’ to our small son.
I perhaps got a little obsessive. When I found that they had collaborated on many other children’s books I felt like I had hit the jackpot. For a few months, every time we went to the library I would scope out the ‘D’ section looking for any of their books that we hadn’t yet read. It led us to read other great books that Julia Donaldson has written, but were illustrated by other artists (especially a few by David Roberts: ‘Tyrannosaurus Drip’ and ‘Jack and the Flummflumm Tree’). We also came across the ‘Pip and Posy’ series which Axel Scheffler authorstrated, which will probably get it’s own blog post in the future.
At one point I placed an online order for about 10 Donaldson/Scheffler books (some for us, some for gifts) and I’m pretty sure I was much more excited when they arrived than any of the kids were. I still love many of their books because at heart each of us is a young kid and we love the magical world we are taken to by the rhythmic and rhyming words and engaging pictures.
But more than that many of the story lines have a subtle moral or lesson for us. They often highlight a truth about human nature, even though very few characters are actually humans.
This classic story is about a plucky mouse who evades some dangerous situations with his quick thinking. It is entertaining the first time and the 50th time your child asks you to read it.This was one of the first picture books we ever owned for our kids. We read it over and over, most nights before bed for months. Even though it doesn’t get as much of run now (because we have more books to choose from and less time to spend one on one with each kid) I’m sure I could recite it pretty well.
Room on the Broom
This is still my favourite book from Donaldson and Scheffler. It follows the tale of a clumsy witch as she generously shares her broomstick. Her generosity lands her in trouble and she needs help from those whom she once helped.
Again it is etched into my memory after hundreds of readings. I actually remember one time my son split his head open and we had to take him to Emergency, as the doctors were looking at him and deciding how best to fix him up I was reciting this book to him to calm him down. This book has one of my all time favourite lines from a kid’s book: “Buzz off, that’s my witch”.
The Gruffalo’s Child
With all of the characters from ‘The Gruffalo’ making an appearance you would think this sequel could be redundant or too similar – but that is not the case. This is a great story about listening to your parents.
The Scarecrow’s Wife
A fantastic story about two scarecrows who love each other and want to plan the perfect wedding. It is fun and funny and the leading couple are endearing and lovable.
We had this one from the library ages ago, but we have it again and all the kids are super excited about it. Our 2 yr old is learning to ‘read’ it herself.
This entertaining story follows the misfortune of a stick man who is trying to get back to his family. My husband gets a little upset when he sees men/fathers in children’s literature or media being portrayed as buffoons or worse. So it is really lovely when you come across a story that shows a father desperate to be with his family.
The Smartest Giant in Town
The tale of George, a giant, who wants to be better but just can’t stop himself being generous and kind. He finds different ways to help those he meets who are having troubles.
It is a sweet one that will help you talk to kids about helping the needy.
Tabby McTat is a busker’s cat who falls into a different life after losing his owner. This is a unique book with great rhymes.
Another great book. I really do love the way the underwater world is illustrated.
It has one sweet part that reminds me of ‘Finding Nemo’ where a message is passed from creature to creature underwater.
This is one book that has a very obvious purpose: to help children practice patience.
It is still really lovely to see the story unfold.
This is really good for younger children. The story of a child looking for its Mum is something that seems to draw in kids. It has a clever ending which little kids love to predict.
A Squash and a Squeeze
I think this is the first book Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler collaborated on. It is a funny tale of a little old woman with a problem I completely sympathise with. She learns that sometimes what you’ve got is enough – a lesson I am trying to come to terms with.
A fun book about the training dragons need to endure to be good at their ‘job’. Zog tries his very best to be a good dragon and in the process meets an unlikely friend.
There is a sequel called ‘Zog and the Flying Doctors’ that we are yet to read.
Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book
This book is not structured in the typical fashion of beginning-middle-end, instead it cleverly introduces kids to a variety of different types of books and characters they might bump into in the literary world.
The variety in this book makes it very entertaining.
The Snail and the Whale
I really like this one. The story of an unlikely pairing who help each other, one who wants something and one who needs to be saved. It is a great book for a kid that doesn’t recognise the value of their talents and strengths.
Superworm is so versatile. he can help lots of others with their problems by ‘being’ something different.
But when Superworm gets into trouble, who will help him?
The Highway Rat
It is unusual for Julia Donaldson to have a ‘baddie’ as a protagonist. But the Highway Rat is certainly a ‘baddie’. He rides around taking food from travellers to feed his greed. Fortunately for everyone else the Rat meets a very clever duck.
I have found that my local library has most of these books and I’m sure yours will too. But any of these books would make an excellent gift for a child aged 2-5 – or even older.
axelscheffler.com – has some great colouring PDFs