SHE is Britain’s best-selling author, whose creations like The Gruffalo and Stick Man have won the hearts of fans around the world.
But Julia Donaldson is now set to return to her entertaining roots as a busker with a one-off cabaret performance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this summer.
Donaldson will appear in a late-night show at the city’s book festival to relive her student days in Bristol when she first sung with her then husband-to-be Malcolm, who still performs with the writer in live shows for her young fans.
The couple - who married in 1972 - would continue busking when they went on holidays and a career as a freelance songwriter followed for Donaldson, who began writing for children’s television programmes.
It was one of those early songs, A Squash and a Squeeze, that was eventually turned into her first picture book in 1993 and paved the way for the huge success of The Gruffalo six years later.
Donaldson has been confirmed in the book festival’s line-up of free Unbound shows, along with the likes of broadcaster Vic Galloway, singer Colin MacIntyre and publisher Kevin Williamson.
She will be rehearsing for the cabaret night in the festival’s intimate Spiegeltent on a day off from her mid-morning children’s show at the Fringe, which her husband is also appearing in.
But she has drawn the line at the prospect of entering the fray on the Royal Mile by busking on the street again.
Donaldson said: “I just don’t know what it is going to be like. We did pop in one night last year and the audience did seem very nice and forgiving to the performers that were on.
“Part of the show will be autobiographical, with some busking songs, songs that we used to sing in folk clubs, songs about having children and other songs.
“It’s not set in stone what we’re going to be doing yet, but we will definitely do A Squash and a Squeeze and another one called Action Man and Cindy Doll.
“It’s really an excuse for us to really get away from what we usually do.
“At the moment we’re working so hard for our Fringe show, so we’ll have to make sure we make time to practice these other songs.
“But it will be exciting for us to do something new and different. It will be a nice change for us.
“I don’t think we’ll brave the Royal Mile. I’ve got the royalty statements now, so I don’t really need to go around with a hat, but perhaps Malcolm will, as he only has a meagre pension.
“He actually busks to the signing queue after my events to keep people entertained.”
The Donaldsons will perform as part of the Edinburgh International Festival’s Unbound series on 20 August.