Julia Donaldson fans, it is time to take a stroll through the deep dark wood…
If you’ve been around a child of any age, at any point, then you will undoubtedly know the work of Julia Donaldson. Creations like The Gruffalo, Stick Man and Tiddler have captivated children and adults alike for years. And now you can experience the magic while you’re out and about too!
Forests and woods across the UK now play host to trails inspired by the Julia Donaldson books thanks to the Forestry Commission in England, which has created interactive trails filled with activities and sculptures for children to explore and enjoy. If you have children of different ages, then we know that it can be a struggle to try and find outdoor activities that are fun for all of them but this kind of thing is ideal. You don’t need to worry about the wet weather, just get your wellies on and have some fun!
If (like my two) your children want to go off and hunt for creatures with terrible tusks and terrible claws and terrible teeth in their terrible jaws, then you should head to one of the fifteen forests across the UK with Gruffalo trails. There are trails as far north as Durham and Yorkshire and stretching down south as far as Exeter, with loads more in between (including our favourite in Wendover Woods in Buckinghamshire). In some forests, a Gruffalo’s Child sculpture has also been added to increase the fun and there are expected to be more being added throughout the year!
If you prefer to go hunting for Stick Man (and his lady love) and help him on his quest to return to the family tree, then there are now twenty-five trails for you to explore. Most were opened in late 2015 so the adventures are fairly new and children can collect a Stick Man activity pack (for around £3) before they set out on their adventure. It comes with lots of fun items including pipe cleaners to make your very own Stick Man! Parents can also download activity sheets, certificates and colouring sheets to keep the magic going at home. Superworm is also receiving the Forestry Commission treatment so look out for him wiggling near you soon!
If you prefer something a little drier, but noisier (you have been warned!) then there are some great theatre adaptations of the Julia Donaldson books too. The touring production of The Gruffalo’s Child begins during February half term in Kingston and continues at theatres across the UK through until August. What the Ladybird Heard is also on this half term in Cambridge and the original Gruffalo then returns to the London stage during the summer holidays.
But that’s not all… Scamp Theatre is touring their version of Tiddler between March and August 2016 and the newest Julia and Axel collaboration, The Scarecrow’s Wedding, is making its stage debut in London over the summer. The Snail and the Whale is also getting the theatrical treatment over the summer from Tall Stories. Dates are yet to be announced but the show is ideal for children aged between 4 and 9 so keep your eyes peeled for show information. A trip to the theatre is great fun during the holidays, wherever you are in the UK so dig out the Julia Donaldson books and get inspired today!