Tag Archives: Julia Donaldson

Old fashioned sweetness: The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson

paperdollsThis darling picture book made me hope, hope, hope that there are still kids out there playing with paper dolls. As a kid, I remember getting one of those big activity books that was filled with tear-out paper dolls with little outfits for various occasions. I loved them. (Actually, I think I still do. I wouldn’t say no to these ones…) Julia Donaldson has written the sweetest wee story about a little girl who knows how to play the old fashioned way, to make her own fun with paper and scissors and her imagination. You could pack this one up with some scissors, and some paper and pencil crayons, and you’d have the perfect birthday present, I’d say.

The little girl and her mum make five paper dolls and then she heads off with them for dancing, jumping, singing, and various adventures. But then, they meet a boy with a pair of scissors… The end of this book gave me goosebumps. It will make your heart squeeze a little, but it’s not saccharine or overdone. Rebecca Cobb’s illustrations have a homespun style that really captures the wonder of the experience as a little girl might see it. Give this to a crafty kid, or a crafty mum who has just had a baby girl (she’ll probably cry a little). Just lovely. Here’s the equally lovely trailer:

The Paper Dolls is published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

 

Day 3, book 3: A Gold Star for Zog by Julia Donaldson

School starts for me tomorrow, which means that teachers in my neck of the woods are fully stocked on gold stars. We are ready to hand those puppies out! I would like to suggest A Gold Star for Zog as the perfect First Day of School read for dragon-loving little people and the cool teachers who seek their admiration. Imagine reading this book at the end of the First Day and then sending every kid in your class home with a gold star. You are now the Best Teacher Ever. It’s simple folks, honest.

On Day 2, each of them could write about something they’re good at, something that is “gold star worthy.” They could make a whole list of things. You could take pictures of their proud smiling faces! Can you say bulletin board for Curriculum Night? Done and done.

It is probably impossible not to feel cheery when you read a picture book created by this dream team. Julia Donaldson’s clever rhymes and Axel Sheffler’s super bright, cute-as-all-get-out illustrations are about as kid-pleasing a combo as anything you could dream up. But this is no fluffy tale, without substance. In fact, there’s quite a lot to dig into here, in terms of big ideas. Zog is a total keener. He wants to win a golden star hard, really hard. But, flying leads to crashing, roaring gives him a sore throat, and fire-breathing means setting your own wing on fire. So you can imagine how capturing a princess goes. Good thing the princess is anything but ordinary. Princess Pearl isn’t afraid of dragons; she wants to help them. In fact, it is her dream to be a traveling doctor. Enter Sir Gadabout, an unconventional knight. Everyone and everything comes together in as neat and satisfying a finish as any of Donaldson’s rhymes.

It’s about being different, finding your groove, staying true to your dreams, and discovering that friendship matters more than being the best. All of that and rainbow bright dragons too? Give this book a gold star already.

Here’s a glimpse into Axel Scheffler’s creative life, and a video with Julia Donaldson talking about going beyond the Gruffalo.

A Gold Star for Zog is published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Scholastic.