Illustration time with Axel Scheffler

by Kathleen Neighbours

Storytime with the illustrator of the Gruffalo.

Axel Scheffler with a few fans signing books in the marquee. Photo Credit: Arhnel de Serra, 2019.

Axel Scheffler, illustrator of such favourites as Zog the dragon, the Ugly Five, and, of course, the Gruffalo, had a full house at the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival. He was introduced by Lily and Maggie from Barnes Primary, who shared fun facts and a few secrets. Did you know that there is a Gruffalo hidden in all but one of Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson’s books?

There was a lot of cheering as Axel began to draw Zog, with children standing on chairs to get a better look and shouting out guesses as the character emerged on screen. Adults and children alike were enthralled by his live illustrations. He had hardly finished his first drawing before there were chants of “Gruffalo! Gruffalo!” all over the marquee. But after drawing Zog, Axel began to read aloud, and the marquee went quiet. (Don’t worry he did draw the Gruffalo later.)

At the end of the session, the kids had an opportunity to ask questions. We got some amazing answers, like Axel Scheffler’s favourite animal to draw (rodents) and his advice to young illustrators (draw a lot!). Then Axel signed literally hundreds of books – drawing a little doddle in every last one.

Axel Scheffler drawing a personalised doodle in each book. Photo credit: Liesel Bockl, 2019.

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