Bookbug Author Spotlight: Julia Donaldson

Bookbug's Author Spotlight gives you the chance to learn more about the work of Bookbug Bag authors and illustrators. We're especially delighted this month to talk to Bookbug's patron, and current Bookbug Bag author, Julia Donaldson. Julia's book, It's A Little Baby - illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, is currently included our Bookbug Baby Bag.


What was the inspiration for It’s A Little Baby?

When our first grandchild, Poppy, was about 10 months old, I loved the way she enjoyed doing three things with her hands; pointing, waving and clapping. It reminded me of when my own children were at that stage, and I always felt that those hand-gestures were such milestones and yet were not often celebrated. Poppy also loved “dancing! – jiggling about rhythmically to music – and listening to songs”. I also noticed that she adored pictures of babies and books with big flaps. So I said to myself, “right – that’s my next book. A song about babies waving, pointing, clapping and dancing, which can be made into a book with big flaps and pictures of babies”. It’s probably the first time I’ve been directly inspired by an actual child rather than just getting an idea out of the blue.


What’s your top tip for sharing It’s A Little Baby with little ones?

Listen to the songs on the It’s A Little Baby website, and sing it while you share the book with your baby. The tune is very simple. (Here's a short video showing Julia and Malcolm Donaldson performing the It's A Little Baby song):

Can you tell us a little about the collaboration between yourself and Rebecca Cobb on this book?

Rebecca has already illustrated The Paper Dolls and I loved her thoughtful intelligent approach and the very sweet, yet not sickly, children that she draws, so I was delighted when she agreed to illustrate It’s A little Baby and also its companion book There’s An Owl In My Towel. Other than being told they were to be flap books Rebecca was given quite a free hand, as I don’t think it’s a good idea to breathe down an illustrator’s neck. Rebecca now has her own “Little Baby” (actually, Kit is two now) and brought her to the Edinburgh Book Festival last year. I was touched and tickled that Kit knew all the actions and the audience was enchanted when she joined us on stage to take part in our performance of the song.


Which books did you love as a child?

There weren’t so many picture books then, but when I was a bit older I loved The Borrowers by Mary Norton, and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, and also all the William books by Richmal Crompton, which I collected and still enjoy.


Tell us about the view from your office or study?

My study has a view of the high street in the small town where I live, so I can see people eating scones in the teashop opposite, children going to school, dog-walkers, horse-riders, and lots of legs walking past (my study is slightly below pavement level so I can’t always see people’s heads!) it’s very entertaining but sometimes a bit distracting.


What’s your favourite thing about your local library?

The books! And also think it’s great the way they have song and rhyme sessions every week for babies and toddlers and their carers. Talking of libraries, there’s one featured in my latest collaboration with Rebecca Cobb – The Everywhere Bear, which is one of my favourite pictures in the book. 


For more books based on popular songs, take a look at our special book list based on Songs and Rhymes. You can also watch families sharing songs and rhymes together in our brand new Song and Rhyme Library

You can find out more about Rebecca Cobb's book, The Something, which is currrently included in our Bookbug Explorer Bag in Rebecca's Author Spotlight on our website.