Kathryn Anderson, Book Trust Coordinator Northern Ireland, writes about Julia Donaldson's tour of Northern Ireland libraries
We were delighted to be joined by Julia Donaldson last week, for a tour of Northern Ireland libraries. Before the tour got underway, Julia visited Derry for the last day of the Humdinger! Children's Book Festival. As part of the festival, Julia and her husband Malcolm performed two shows at the Millennium Forum. Parents and children flocked to see Julia and Malcolm act out some favourite books and songs, including What the Ladybird Heard, A Squash and a Squeeze, and of course, The Gruffalo.
On Monday morning, Julia went on a private visit to Magilligan prison, during which she met prisoners and their families. This event was part of the Big Book Share, which enabels prisoners to record stories for their children to listen to at home. Julia and Malcolm performed some songs and even got the prisoners and their children joining in, acting out the parts of different animals in the stories.
Over the next four days, Julia and Malcolm visited six libraries – Coleraine, Dungiven, Chichester, Lurgan, Irvinestown and Lisnaskea, and also completed two book signings at Easons Stores. At each of the libraries, she met with a local primary school class, who had been asked to prepare a performance for her in advance. In some instances, the class wrote their own story – the children at Coleraine Library performed a Rainforest Rap, incorporating facts they’d learnt about all the animals in the lyrics. Others performed stories from well-known picture books – at Chichester Library, the children acted out Jill Murphy’s Peace at Last. After the children’s performance, Julia and Malcolm began theirs, getting the children (and teachers) involved at every opportunity!
This tour was the final leg in what has been an extensive Laureate Library Tour of the UK, encompassing libraries in Scotland, England, Wales and now Northern Ireland too. It was a very busy week, but everyone involved had a fantastic time. Well done to Julia and Malcolm on this amazing accomplishment!