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Spinderella: The perfect illustrated children’s picture book for Halloween, from the author of The Gruffalo and Tales From Acorn Wood!

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To be honest, this isn't one of my favourite Julia Donaldson books. It doesn't have the same flow and flair that she usually showcases.

Spinderella - Julia Donaldson Spinderella - Julia Donaldson

Spinderella is a must read, it is engaging throughout and has amazing illustrations that link to the story. This book supports children with their mathematical skills including counting and also discusses teamwork. When reading this story I have noticed that it is similar to Cinderella (the title gives this away) but also how the story is structured.A little girl makes a string of paper dolls with her mother, and then takes them off to play in an imaginative world of her own - until a pair of scissors threaten. The cover of this book is so beautifully illustrated that I really hoped the remainder of the book would be so pretty, but actually the illustrations let this one down a little bit. The story on the other hand, about Spinderella the spider who likes to play football with her brothers and sisters (of which there are many!) is a brilliant way of helping small children with numbers. My real breakthrough was THE GRUFFALO, again illustrated by Axel. We work separately - he’s in London and I’m in Glasgow - but he sends me letters with lovely funny pictures on the envelopes.

Spinderella | BookTrust Spinderella | BookTrust

Sebastien Braun was born in Strasbourg, the hometown of Gustav Doré and Tomi Ungerer (his heroes). As a child he spent countless hours drawing, but at secondary school there were no art classes, so he filled his homework with doodles and portraits of his teachers. At university he initially studied history – fortunately, the building was shared with the art department, and when he saw the students sketching, knew he had to change. After that, he spent a few years teaching applied art to sixth formers, before taking the plunge as a freelance illustrator. His first commissions were for magazines in Paris, and when he moved to London, he developed his portfolio for children's books. This one outlines the adventures of a young spider who lives with her woman-headed family in a school and wishes to learn numeracy. She doesn't get a lot of family support but goes on to prove them all wrong, with the help of her hairy godmother. An uneven match of 7 v 3 sees the team with more players comfortable winners and inspires Spinderella to learn to count.I grew up in a tall Victorian London house with my parents, grandmother, aunt, uncle, younger sister Mary and cat Geoffrey (who was really a prince in disguise. Mary and I would argue about which of us would marry him). Before Malcolm and I had our three sons we used to go busking together and I would write special songs for each country; the best one was in Italian about pasta.

Spinderella by Julia Donaldson, Sebastien Braun | Waterstones Spinderella by Julia Donaldson, Sebastien Braun | Waterstones

One of my television songs, A SQUASH AND A SQUEEZE, was made into a book in 1993, with illustrations by the wonderful Axel Scheffler. It was great to hold the book in my hand without it vanishing in the air the way the songs did. This prompted me to unearth some plays I’d written for a school reading group, and since then I’ve had 20 plays published. Most children love acting and it’s a tremendous way to improve their reading. The small spider is obsessed with numbers but all her other nine siblings only show an intrest in football, whilst her mother is more concerned with her children eating flys.

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I studied Drama and French at Bristol University, where I met Malcolm, a guitar-playing medic to whom I’m now married. Funnily enough, I find it harder to write not in verse, though I feel I am now getting the hang of it! My novel THE GIANTS AND THE JONESES is going to be made into a film by the same team who made the Harry Potter movies, and I have written three books of stories about the anarchic PRINCESS MIRROR-BELLE who appears from the mirror and disrupts the life of an otherwise ordinary eight-year-old. I have just finished writing a novel for teenagers.

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