Our Visit to a Julia Donaldson Exhibition

Are her books popular in your house? Surely, if you have young children, you have at least 1 Julia book? It’s an assumption that I make, as we have so very many of her books, and they are absolutely adored here! We shared our favourite books in a post earlier this week, and Julia Donaldson titles cropped up a lot. Which is why we made the trip into Birmingham this week to visit A Squash and a Squeeze: Sharing Stories with Julia Donaldson. We took Nanny with us and the husband was more than a little jealous, but he had to work! It was such a magical afternoon, so I’m hoping to be able to give you a flavour of it.

The exhibition was set up in a huge room, all broken up into segments and sections devoted to her books. As you’ll see, both of the children liked checking out the illustrations all over the walls, where many of her titles were represented across different areas..

Julia Donaldson Exhibition

Now, I was excited just to see the murals, and then dotted all around them where snippets of information about Julia, the illustrators she’s worked with, her processes, career and so on. Naturally, I was chasing round after Little Man most of the time, so I didn’t get to read a lot of this, which is a shame as I’d have enjoyed it. Maybe I should go back for an afternoon without the kids?!

Julia Donaldson Working

Some of Axel Scheffler’s early sketches for A Squash and a Squeeze and Julia’s notes when writing The Smartest Giant in Town.

If it was just loads of pictures on walls, with information and the books, I’d have been happy, but it was considerably more interactive than that – just what the children wanted! There were stories being told on TV’s dotted around, building blocks, toys and Lego available, several tables you could sit and draw at or do jigsaw puzzles, you could go into Stick Man’s tree, squeeze in with the animals in the old ladies house, sit in Cave baby’s cave, wander through the forest where the Gruffalo lives and touch his knobbly knees and purple prickles, make big shadows like the clever little mouse did in The Gruffalo’s Child – you get the idea!

Julia Donaldson Activities

And then there was the dressing up…

Julia Donaldson Dress-Up

I loved the dressing up! Unfortunately, only the pirate’s hat seemed to be appropriate for me to try on, but we made sure the kids tried other things! Boo was very excited to become the Gruffalo’s Child, though I have to be honest and say that I’m not sure that Little Man even noticed that he had become ‘The Ladybird’! There were plenty more costumes to try, all over the place, and there was a big stage to perform upon if you fancied it, too – obviously Boo did have a little go there, resplendent in a princess costume, along with a fox’s tail…!

As you can probably tell from the photos and my enthusiasm, it was a really lovely, fun afternoon out. It runs until 3rd November, so if you’ve little fans in your house and you’re not too far away, I’d definitely recommend that you pop in.

Do you have a favourite Julia Donaldson book? Is it the same one that your kids would choose?! I think I’d have to go with Stick Man, though as I’ve typed that a handful of other titles have immediately popped into my head as other contenders, so I’ll sign off now before I look ridiculously indecisive…;-)

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49 thoughts on “Our Visit to a Julia Donaldson Exhibition”

  1. Pingback: My Children’s 10 Favourite Books

    1. We had so much fun there. I think it helped that my 2 aren’t at school yet so we could go when it was nice and quiet in the week – they got involved in everything!

  2. I loved this exhibition (so did my daughter too, ahem!). Like you, I wish I’d have more time to read the note pads/sketch books etc but we still had an awesome time.
    Favourite book….that’s a real toughie. Maybe Zog or Tiddler, although I’m sure to change my mind!

  3. So jealous! We are big Juloa fans here, one of my most exciting moments since Mini Milk arrived was getting out Half Pint’s old books – the Gruffalo and Monkey Puzzle were still engrained in his 11yr old memory and he loves sharing them with his baby brother!

    1. It was so good! We love her books so it was lovely to see them all brought to life like that. And I do love Monkey Puzzle..butterfly, butterfly, please don’t joke…!

  4. I do fancy going along-I hope my 7 year old might be inspired by it all. Mind you, if there’s dressing up involved I may well lose her to that! Littlest will probably follow his sister wherever she goes. Looks like you had a great time x

  5. oh wow what a fabulous exhibition, we would love that. My girls love Julia Donaldson and we have most of her books now, my eldest love Room on the Broom and Stick Man and my youngest goes crazy for Superworm. My favourite is probably A Squash and a Squeeze, or What the Ladybird Heard..
    You took some fabulous pictures,

    1. It was so good there! Like you, we’ve got so many of her books and it was fab to see them there, coming to life. I love all of the titles you’ve mentioned as they are all just magical 🙂

  6. We love Room on the Broom! It comforted my little man last December when he was poorly and I will always remember enjoying it together. This year, I’m guessing he’ll be getting the dvd under the tree if he’s good! Looks like a great exhibition. When we went to the Roald Dahl museum I also felt that it would be nice to go without the children as well to be able to read more, but fantastic interaction opportunities!

    1. We loved it. Someone had told me it was over priced. I guess, as we’re such fans and we were fortunate to be able to go midweek as Boo’s not at school yet so could make the most of everything as there was hardly anyone else there, it was totally worth it.

  7. Pingback: #BornToRead

  8. Wow! This looks like an amazing exhibition. And they have obviously really thought through how to make it accessible to children as well as adults. I am very jealous it is in Birmingham.

    Jumped over from Love All Blogs linky.

    1. It was fab – go!! No, not visited there, and didn’t even know about it until another comment drew my attention to it! Obviously, I’m now planning a visit there :)!

  9. This looks amazing, I would love to visit but it’s a bit far. I wonder if they are planning any more? Despite having Julia Donadlson books in our house since before my boy was born, he has only just really got into them. It makes me so happy to read The Gruffalo to him. You got some great pictures!

    1. It was great, thanks. They need to your with it – it’s so fab. Great to introduce little ones to the delights of the Gruffalo for the first time 🙂

    1. Probably. My 4 year old was in her element, which did mean my 1 year old was excitedly toddling everywhere after her. He loved it, but I doubt he had a clue about what it was all about! It was fab 🙂

  10. Thanks for sharing your Julia Donaldson day in a blogpost – I really want to visit now. I wonder if they will set it up in any other venues.

    Love your cute little ladybird :)!

  11. One word. WOW! How amazing does this experience look! We have Room on a Broom at home on our book shelves and we love it, so I’ll say that’s our favourite. What a great day you guys had.

    Thanks so much for linking up to #MMWBH xx

  12. Thank you for your feedback and all the great comments – we are really pleased you enjoyed the exhibition. There is a week and a half left to see the exhibition at BMAG. It will be touring, although in a slightly smaller format. The next venue will be Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent. The exhibition was originally devised by Severn Stories and then extended by Birmingham Museums.

    Many thanks

    Informal Learning Officer, Birmingham Museums Trust

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Sarah, and filling us in on the tour. As you can see, lots if people want a tour, so thanks for the news!

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