EVEN while polishing off two cups of tea before she has got out of bed, the imagination of Children’s author, Julia Donaldson, is always working.

The writer who has created such delights as The Gruffalo, The Ugly Five and the newly-released The Cook and the King, has managed to capture the imagination of a younger generation.

But not satisfied with just putting pen to paper, the author has now started to bring her characters to life.

Even though there have been stage adaptations of her books, Donaldson’s new show, The Gruffalo, The Witch and The Warthog, gives her tales a different perspective.

“With the adaptations they tend to focus on one story,” Donaldson told the Gazette.

“What I can do with these shows is just let them take a natural course. Obviously there is some structure to it, but if there is a flow to the show then I can use props or bring in a new character to change things up.

“It doesn’t have to be rigid to the text.”

And it is this flexibility which has allowed Donaldson to create a show which weaves together a number of her stories and gives them new life.

But for the author it is all about the characters that she has created, rather than the narrative, as she brings them to life through puppets and the use of actors on the stage with her.

She added: “When you are performing something the characters become more important than the actual narration, so at these shows I have to tweak the characters slightly.

“It is more about the theatrical element of the performance rather than just me telling the stories.

“So, the challenge for us is about finding a balance of what is the best way to dramatise things and making sure there is enough variety in the show.”

Even though now best known for her writing, Donaldson is no stranger to performing as she and husband Malcolm used to busk by singing songs that the pair had wrote together.

The author added: “The busking led to a career in singing and songwriting, mainly for children’s television. I became an expert at writing to order on such subjects as guinea pigs, window-cleaning and horrible smells.

“Before I had written any books, I had been making up characters for children’s songs, so it is interesting to see how things have evolved.”

With many children around Basingstoke and Deane dressing up as characters from Donaldson’s books for World Book Day last month, the author is expecting tonnes of fun at the shows during the Easter half-term.

She attributed the success of days like World Book Day to how recognised her own characters are.

“Every year I try and visit some local schools on World Book Day,” she added.

“To see people dressed up as my characters really shows the power of books on young children.”

Julia Donaldson in The Gruffalo, The Witch and The Warthog will run at the Haymarket from April 7 to April 9.

For tickets, go to anvilarts.org.uk.