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Spinderella by Julia Donaldson and Sebastien Braun

From high above the classroom, Spinderella watches in fascination the classroom activities at Scuttleton Primary School. She wants to be able to do two things: play football and count. However, her family of spiders are only interested in flies, flies and flies. They also have no desire to learn how to count Down with numbers they all cry. Unperturbed by their lack of enthusiasm, Spinderella goes in search of numbers and playing football. Along the way she meets a familiar wish granting character (no spoilers here) and her journey begins.

Spinderella by Julia Donaldson and Sebastien Braun

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Tony Taylor
Reviewed by Tony Taylor
Summary: Another great story from the brilliant Julia Donaldson. Spinderella will have universal appeal mixing fairy tales and football. What a fantastic combination. Once again Julia has teamed up with another fantastic illustrator. One to be enjoyed.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2016
Publisher: Egmont
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1405282727

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When I picked up this latest book by Julia Donaldson, a thought immediately struck me - will this be as good as The Gruffalo? This is a tough ask as The Gruffalo is now steeped in childhood wonder and has become part of every child's early reading experience. It is quite unfair to try to compare her latest outing to this. It is like wondering on the first listen if Lionel Ritchie's latest song will be as good as Hello or Easy like a Sunday morning. It is probably not going to happen, but that doesn't mean it isn't a great song. The other thought I had was, if it is not comparable with the classic, will this be a B-Side or more of an album filler. Some of The Beatles most loved songs originated as B-Sides, so again, this wouldn't mark it down in anyway.

So, what is it then? Firstly, Julia Donaldson always works with the most exceptional illustrators and in Spinderella she has continued by finding another fantastic partner in Sebastien Braun. His illustrations stand out of the page and there is so much for children to look at. The front cover is truly fantastic with a sparking glitter spider’s web in the centre. This is a pick me up and feel me style front cover. Sebastian Braun has a simple style when drawing Spinderella and her family, I can see children tracing and having a go at drawing these characters themselves. The story is great. It is really fun and easily appeals to both boys and girls with the fairy tale familiarities and the football theme underlying the story. However, I firmly believe at this age children enjoy good stories no matter what the content. Both of my children love this story (boys aged 4 and 7) so this shows the spread of age it will appeal to. Unlike the majority of Julia Donaldson's books, this story doesn't rhyme. For me, this was a shame. Her previous books were beautifully lyrical where she has this special skill to make words flow and dance together. Also many lines from her stories are memorable. Particular lines from The Gruffalo, The Highway Rat and Tiddler are as familial as song lyrics. There are a couple of moments in Spinderella where children can join in with repetition but not as much as we have come to expect from her.

Spinderella is a great book with amazing illustrations and I highly recommend it. As adults, myself included, we need to leave behind our preconceived expectations and enjoy this book for what it is. This is definitely a B-side and far superior to an album filler. Just remember Strawberry Fields, I am a Walrus and Eleanor Rigby were all B-sides and they are now part of our musical heritage. It is important to say here that Spinderella was originally published in 2002 as part of the Go Bananas reading programme, so this is a re-release with a different illustrator.

For further reading, indulge your children in The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler as these are my personal Julia Donaldson favourites. Many thanks to Egmont for sending me a review copy of Spinderella.

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Buy Spinderella by Julia Donaldson and Sebastien Braun at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Spinderella by Julia Donaldson and Sebastien Braun at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Spinderella by Julia Donaldson and Sebastien Braun at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Spinderella by Julia Donaldson and Sebastien Braun at


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