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Burley Primary School

Burley Primary School


Summer Term Topic- Author Julia Donaldson

Waht an exciting term coming up. Julia Donaldson is a well known Author. we will be exploring some of her amazing books. We will be looking at the text for Rhyming words and fantastic vocabulary.

Here are some answers to questions that children have asked her

Q When did you decide to be a writer?

A For my fifth birthday, my father gave me a very fat book called “The Book of a Thousand Poems”. I loved it. I read the poems, recited them, learnt them, and then started making up some of my own. Although I wanted to be a poet all those years ago, I later decided I would rather go on the stage. That didn’t quite work out, so I did other jobs – teaching and publishing. But somehow I’ve ended up doing what I wanted to do when I was five years old. I have a theory that this happens to quite a lot of people.

Q When did you start to write books?

A In 1993, when one of my songs, “A Squash and a Squeeze” was made into a book. Before that I just wrote songs for children’s television.

Q Where do you get your ideas?

A Anywhere and everywhere: things that happen to my children; memories of my own childhood; things people say; places I go to; old folk tales and fairy stories. The hard part for me is not getting the idea, it is turning it into a story with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Q How long does it take to write a book?

A It can take months or years for the idea to grow in my head and for me to plan the book. This is a very important part. Then, when I am ready it could take anything between a week (for a picture book) and six months (for a chapter book) to write it. For THE GRUFFALO the ideas and planning stage lasted a year (obviously I was doing other things too!) and the actual writing took about two weeks.

Q Do you write with a pencil?

A When I’m writing a rhyming book I start off with a pencil or pen, writing in a big exercise book and doing lots of doodles along the way. If the book isn’t going to rhyme I often write it on the computer.

Q Where do you write?

A In my head when I’m in the bath or out for a walk. (I do have my own study, too, and sometimes I write on trains or in the library.)

Q How do you find an illustrator?

A The publisher knows lots of illustrators and they choose the one which they think would suit my words best. (They usually ask me first if I like the illustrator’s work.)

Q Where did the inspiration for the Gruffalo come from?

A The book was going to be about a tiger but I couldn’t get anything to rhyme with “tiger”. Then I thought up the lines: “Silly old Fox, doesn’t he know/There’s no such thing as a _________________ ” and somehow the word “gruffalo” came to mind to fill the gap. The gruffalo looks the way he does because various things that just happened to rhyme (like toes and nose, and black and back)

Q Do you and Axel Scheffler work closely together on your picture books?

A No. I don’t breathe down his neck and he doesn’t breathe down mine! I write a story and send it to the publisher. Then the publisher sends it to Axel to illustrate. I do get to make comments on his rough sketches but try not to interfere too much – and anyway, I wouldn’t want to as they’re always so funny and brilliant.

Q Do you like being an author?

A I find the actual writing quite hard work. I often get stuck, or feel that I’m plodding along in an uninspired way. But when I realise that a story is working after all it’s a very exciting feeling – and I love doing all the polishing touches at the end (or “tweaking” as publishers call it). It’s lovely when the first rough illustrations arrive and I see how my characters are going to look.

Q How many books have you written?

A I have written 210 books. (90 of them can be bought in shops, and the others are for schools.)

Q Which one of your books is your favourite?

A A It keeps changing. At the moment I have two: "The Smeds and the Smoos" for younger children and "The Giants and the Joneses" for older ones.

Q What is your favourite book (not by you)?

A One of my favourites is “Watership Down” by Richard Adams, an exciting story about rabbits.

Q What are your hobbies?

A Walking, cycling, playing the piano, singing. I’m also interested in wild flowers and fungi.

Q Do you have any pets?

Sadly my black cat Goblin died recently (he was very old). I do have a huge fish called Swimmy and quite a lot of other fish (I can’t count them because they won’t keep still) in a pond in my garden.

Q How can we find out where you are performing?

By visiting (This website also has some good games to play and tells you how to join the Gruffalo Gang.)

Summer Term Topic - Mad about minibeasts.

Incy wincy spider climbed up the waterspout! Why do ladybirds have spots? Why do spiders spin webs? It’s time to find out more about minibeasts and their habitats.

This half term, we’ll look under logs, leaves and stones for creatures that wriggle, crawl or fly. We’ll find out about minibeast habitats, features and colours, and compare them.  

To get to know these creepy crawlies better,  I will ask you to make and monitor a minibeast hotel. Hopefully we will have some guests and we can observe snails moving, ants, working together to collect and carry objects, worms wriggling and beetles scuttling. Can we predict what will be these minibeasts’ favourite foods?

In our literacy sessions, we’ll have a story a week to base our writing on and we will use minibeasts in our mathematics sessions, Getting creative I will ask you to make a diorama which we can add to each week. Then when we return to school you can bring it in and share with your friends, Mrs Cutts and myself.

 Minibeasts are marvellous! Why not visit the forest and see if you can catch some minibeasts and add them to your minibeast hotel. You could also try worm charming in your garden. Water an area in your garden with a watering can, and tap your fingers lightly on the ground. Can you entice any worms to the surface?