Some people have all the skills, not only is Julia Donaldson one of the most successful children’s authors, she can also carry a tune. For the past few years she has adapted many of her most popular stories into songs and plays them during open readings, or releases them as part of a song book. For the first time ‘‘A Treasury of Songs’’ brings together several of her books in one omnibus and it also has a CD too of Donaldson singing the songs.
Anyone who has had a child or grandchild in the past ten years or so will be well aware that The Gruffalo has turned out toes. He also has a wart on the end of his nose. They may also know about Superworm, Stickman or Room on the Broom. All of these stories are Donaldson classics and were written in a rhyming style. With a little massaging Donaldson has created songs based on these books and has added them to loads of new action songs written by herself.
Trying to create new nursery rhymes in this day and age is very difficult as the likes of Humpty and Baa Baa are not going anywhere soon. However, the fact that Donaldson has so many strong stories to work with means that she is starting with an advantage. The book is split between songs that are based on her books and those based on new ideas. Surprisingly, both areas are as strong as one another. The Gruffalo song etc. has instant appeal, but the action rhymes also make a nice alternative to the same old Grand Duke.
On paper some of the rhymes are not that easy to pick up straight away, thankfully the books comes with accompanying CD. Here the author sings her own songs and the production value is of a decent level. Donaldson does not have a voice that will feature on Top of the Pops anytime soon, but it has a soft lilt to it that is perfect for children’s songs. It took me a little while to get over the slightly cringey feeling of listening to someone sing children’s stories, but kids love it.
An important part of many of Donaldson’s most familiar works is the illustrations of Axel Scheffler. It has to be said that in this Treasury his impact is lessoned. The illustrations are dotted around the page and are often taken from the original books, although there are plenty of new dancing children and animals to enjoy. It is just that this is a song book first and not a traditional children’s book. Fans of the duo will love being able to immerse themselves even deeper into the stories, but any adults will have to prepare themselves to listen to over 20 new songs over and over again as the CD is required to learn the songs.