Great read alouds by Julia Donaldson

2018-11-21T20:09:57+00:00April 10th, 2011|Categories: Reviews|Tags: , |11 Comments

Last week, I did something I really should have done ages ago. I sorted through my sons’ bookshelves, trying to make sense of the picture books, encyclopedias, comic books and novels they have been accumulating since…. well, birth.

Some of the obvious ones had already migrated to my daughter’s room ages ago, but lately I’d been having this nagging feeling while searching through her books for our read aloud sessions that some great ones were missing.

How excited I was to find a couple of real treats from Julia Donaldson, collecting dust on the boys’ bottom bookshelf!

George the Giant was the scruffiest giant in town, until he bought himself some new clothes. He then became “The Smartest Giant in Town”. (This generated some conversation with my children for whom ‘smart’ means clever or intelligent. I explained that in England, ‘smart’ also means handsome or well-dressed…)

In this book, George walks through town in his ‘smart’ new clothes and meets all sorts of animals in distress. He helps every one of them by giving them items from his new wardrobe, until he has nothing left but his old rags. But he is happy because he has helped his friends, who, in the end, reward him by naming him ‘The Kindest Giant in Town’. This book, full of lovely, repeating rhymes, fantastically illustrated by Axel Sheffler, teaches a great lesson about helping those in need. My daughter couldn’t believe how George gave his clothes away without a second thought, and giggled seeing him in his various stages of undress. She has asked for it again and again since I ‘found’ it, and we highly recommend it! Pre-School – Grade 3.

A little old lady sits in her tiny house, feeling sorry for herself. When a wise old man stops by, she asks him to help her, for her house is ‘a squash and a squeeze’.

The wise old man tells her to bring in her animals, one by one, which she does without questioning. In come the hen, the goat, the pig and finally, the cow.

“Stop, I implore. It was teeny for one, but it’s titchy for four”

My older boys, who happened to be listening in on this read-aloud, and had forgotten it from their early days, didn’t get it, and wondered what the wise old man was trying to do. “He isn’t really a wise old man, is he, mummy? He’s just crazy”, thinking this was a story about not listening to crazy strangers… 😉 When finally, in the end, the wise old man told the little old lady to send all the animals out, they got it. “Ooooooh, clever”. The house now seemed huge to the little old lady, after having shared it with her various farm animals. A great lesson in appreciating what you have, it is again beautifully illustrated by Axel Sheffler, and told in Ms. Donaldson’s classic, clever rhyming style. A fantastic read-aloud for kids of all ages, as my 3 can attest to!

This one had not been abandoned in the boys’ room, and has been a storytime favorite of all of ours forever. Years ago I had an audio version which I have sadly misplaced, but I have the voices for this one down pat!

“A Gruffalo, what, didn’t you know?”

The story of a clever mouse who outwits all the animals in the forest who would eat it for lunch, is a classic. My kids love hearing me do all the animal voices, and never tire of hearing how this tiny mouse outsmarts even the scariest animals in the woods. When the imagined Gruffalo actually does make his appearance, the story takes a surprising turn! One of my favorite read aloud bloggers, ReadAloudDad, reviewed the Gruffalo here, and it is well worth a read!

Julia Donaldson has written many other stories that I am now eager to discover. I’m so glad I tackled the boys’ books and found these treasures again.

Now, if only I could muster up the energy to go through their clothes for the dreaded winter –> spring cleanup. Uggh. No chance of finding ANY hidden treasures, there, I’m afraid.

About the Author:

Reading Rewards
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  1. Read Aloud Dad April 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    Hi Michelle,

    These three are fantastic. We obviously have a similar (dare I say identical?) taste in books – as we’ve got the same three books here at home!

    Julia Donaldson is a treasure indeed!

    Read Aloud Dad

    • Michelle Skamene April 11, 2011 at 1:31 am - Reply

      Well, I have to *admit* that a couple of my latest finds were thanks to you. 🙂 Julia Donaldson’s books, however, I’ve had for a while and are left from our 7 year stay in the UK, where The Gruffalo is a *classic*. I’m so pleased I dug them out so my daughter can enjoy them (actually, my older boys are enjoying them again, too!). Have you read any of her other ones? I am going to seek them out at the library. Please do not point me to one of your lovely reviews, you are really hurting my pocketbook. 😉

      • Read Aloud Dad April 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm - Reply

        Yep, we have read several others – I love Tiddler (The Fish Who Cried
        Wolf), alas I do have a review of that one! I would recommend it.

        Tiddler is the UK edition title and The Fish Who Cried Wolf is the US
        edition title.

        Hide your pocketbook somewhere fast, and checkout the book review at:

        My kids adored “Tabby McTat” and “Zog”! If you’ve read The Gruffalo,
        then don’t miss The Grufallo’s Child!

        Yesterday, my son asked me to find “Stick Man”, also a fun book ..
        maybe not as stellar as the ones above.

        Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book is also cool, while the Snail and the
        Whale is also great for stimulating discussion.

        I’m not so excited about Day Monkey, Night Monkey… but The Monkey
        Puzzle is super.

        Hope this helps!

        Read Aloud Dad

  2. Joanne Kaminski April 11, 2011 at 2:16 am - Reply

    I had heard of the Gruffalo, but was not aware of the author. I loved that book. I am going to check out her books and share them with kids. Thanks for sharing this great story.

    • Michelle Skamene April 11, 2011 at 10:47 am - Reply

      Hi Joanne, let me know if you guys enjoy them! I only realized while I was sorting that they were all by the same author.. Quite the discovery! 🙂

  3. Amy Creighton April 11, 2011 at 2:32 am - Reply

    I was introduced to Julia Donaldson and Axel Schheffler by an English friend of mine and fell in love with the GENIUS they contain! I will have to find the two you mention first – and would like to recommend that you add the Snail and the Whale – next to Room on the Broom it is my favourite. Thanks Michelle!

    • Michelle Skamene April 11, 2011 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Thanks, Amy! I saw the Snail and the Whale on Amazon while I was putting the post together. Am going to try and see if they have it in the library, otherwise… I guess it’s my next purchase! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!!

  4. Elisabeth Coates April 11, 2011 at 5:08 am - Reply

    I love Julia Donaldson! We just saw The Gruffalo’s Child live on stage, it was excellent! Have you heard the song version of A Squash and a Squeeze? It makes that one so much fun!

  5. Kelly Butcher April 14, 2011 at 2:03 am - Reply

    Thanks for being a loyal Book Talk Tuesday Blogger! KB

    • Michelle Skamene April 14, 2011 at 10:53 am - Reply

      Thanks Kelly! It’s on my calendar, now, I love it! Thanks for hosting.

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