HUNDREDS of schoolchildren in Weymouth were spellbound as the Gruffalo came to life with children’s laureate Julia Donaldson.

Around 250 pupils flocked to Weymouth Library yesterday when the bestselling author, who published the Singing Mermaid earlier this year, came to town.

Characters from her popular stories – including the Gruffalo – were brought to life with musical and dramatic performances from Julia and her husband Malcolm as part of a six-week national Libraries tour.

Youngsters from Holy Trinity School also got the chance to show off their acting and singing skills in their own performance which was inspired by Julia’s Room on the Broom.

Julia said: “It’s been great here in Weymouth.

“All the children have been brilliant and really enthusiastic.

“They were terrific when they acted out one of my books.

“The children are always really excited because they’ve been preparing for it.

“We acted out a story with them and they really enjoyed joining in and pretending to be farmyard animals.

“Then we sang a few songs as well.

“It’s about performing and getting children excited about stories because if they experience that then they will want to learn to read.”

She added: “Libraries are very close to my heart, and so is performance.

“It’s terribly important to keep libraries open.

“There’s nothing like walking round the corner to get out a book or discover a new writer.”

Holy Trinity pupil Kaitlyn Knight, aged seven, said she thought it was ‘cool’ meeting Julia and listening to her stories.

She said: “It was really fun .

“We all met Julia Donaldson and her books are really good.”

Weymouth Library was one of 24 libraries chosen as part of the six-week tour across England, Wales and Scotland, from John O’Groats to Lands’ End.

Tracy Long, manager for Dorset Library Service, said: “We are really pleased that Julia chose Weymouth Library as part of her tour, and 250 local children came to the event. “We were all very excited about meeting Julia and some of her characters and have been really looking forward to the event.

“I am sure the show will encourage the children to read more books and hopefully also become regular library customers.”