Julia Donaldson returns to local school to celebrate The Gruffalo’s 25th birthday

The Gruffalo, along with the sequel The Gruffalo’s Child, has sold more than 18 million copies around the world.

The author of The Gruffalo series of books has returned to a primary school in Angus where she first introduced her beloved character in the late 1990s.

Julia Donaldson’s visit to Auchterhouse Primary, organised by the Scottish Book Trust, also kickstarted celebrations for The Gruffalo’s 25th birthday.

During her original visit to the school, Ms Donaldson read her story and asked pupils to draw pictures of what they thought The Gruffalo should look like and promised them if the story was published she would dedicate it to them.

In the following 25 years, The Gruffalo is translated into 107 languages and dialects and, along with the sequel The Gruffalo’s Child, has sold more than 18 million copies around the world.

Each pupil was treated to a short talk from Ms Donaldson along with a performance of the story. They were also gifted a special signed 25th anniversary edition of The Gruffalo.

Guests included the school’s ex head teacher, Sheila McCallum, and former pupils from the time Julia visited in the 90s.

Ms Donaldson said: “The Gruffalo’s origins go back to when I first tried the story out in primary schools in Scotland, with a memorable visit to Auchterhouse, under the wing of Scottish Book Trust.

“Scottish Book Trust has been doing great work for 25 years supporting children with literacy and improving access to books.

“The charity began its 25th anniversary celebrations late last year and it is fitting they are here to celebrate The Gruffalo’s 25th birthday today.

“In fact, I have continued to work with the charity regularly since then and am very pleased that The Gruffalo is leading their ongoing winter appeal and helping children and families at a time when books and stories are needed more than ever.”

Ms Donaldson has joined Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo, and Macmillan Children’s Books, in supporting Scottish Book Trust on their annual mission to gift books to children and families visiting foodbanks over the winter months.

The charity is featuring The Gruffalo in its ongoing appeal, which so far has distributed over 35,000 books to children and families in need all over Scotland.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “We are very grateful to Julia, Axel Scheffler and Macmillan Children’s Books for supporting our appeal to support families across Scotland.

“Access to books is absolutely essential for a child’s development and wellbeing, and for many the only books they have at home are the ones that have been given to them by Scottish Book Trust.

“Books make a huge difference to daily lives, bringing comfort, escapism and togetherness in families, and this is especially important during winter months.”

Mr Scheffler said: “I am very happy that The Gruffalo is at the centre of Scottish Book Trust’s fundraising appeal. Enjoying books together is important for families and it is terrible that many children still have no access to books – and that this need is becoming ever greater.

“I hope that many people will support this appeal, so that Scottish Book Trust can increase their work in making a difference to children’s lives in Scotland.”

Funds raised from the appeal will enable Scottish Book Trust to give books to families via food banks and community hubs and deliver more of its life-changing work.

Some examples of its programmes include specialist support for young families facing significant challenges through Bookbug for the Home, providing tactile books for children with additional support needs and supporting those living with dementia and the people who care for them.

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