Kids are screaming for ‘Squash and a Squeeze’ exhibition

A Gruffalo, a princess, a troll and a rat are proving to be extremely popular for the National Centre for Children’s Books.

A Squash and a Squeeze: Sharing Stories with Julia Donaldson, who is author of The Gruffalo, is Seven Stories’ most successful exhibition.

The display has been going since March and there have been 47,577 visitors.

More than 450,000 people have walked through Seven Stories’ doors since opening seven years ago and they have had 20 major exhibits.

Lauren Regan of Seven Stories believes that the success of A Squash and a Squeeze has to do with The Gruffalo.

“Our offices are above and we can hear kids screaming with delight,” Regan said of the huge Gruffalo that is on display below her office.

The Gruffalo was the UK’s best-selling picture book in 2000 and was adapted into a film in 2009.

The exhibition is named after Donaldson’s first book, A Squash and a Squeeze, which originally came from a song. She started out writing songs for children’s television programmes.

The exhibition shows her journey from songwriter to books and shows how her books inspire children through story, rhyme and rhythm.

Visitors can sing along to Donaldson’s songs on the jukebox, dress up and act out the books on Seven Stories’ stage, follow Toddle Waddle’s footsteps, climb into the cave with the Cave Baby and meet the Gruffalo, characters of Donaldson’s books.

The exhibition shows children how she wrote some of her books including The Gruffalo, Princess Mirror-Belle, The Troll and The Highway Rat. There is also original artwork from artists featured in Donaldson’s books, including Axel Scheffler, who created the illustrations for The Gruffalo and A Squash and a Squeeze, as well as Lydia Monks, David Roberts, Nick Sharratt, Karen George and Emily Gravett.

Mum of two Karen Ashtiani, 32, of Newcastle upon Tyne said: “There’s a lot to fuel imagination. You don’t have to know the stories. It makes you want to read the ones you haven’t and reread the ones you have.”

Her three-year-old and eight-year-old children loved dressing up as the characters from the stories, she said.

“The exhibit held their attention more than the Viking exhibit,” she added.

The exhibition, A Viking’s Guide to Deadly Dragons, is based on Cressida Cowell’s How to Train your Dragon book series, opened on October 27. This runs along side A Squash and a Squeeze.

Helen Dalby, 33, from Newcastle upon Tyne, believes that A Squash and a Squeeze is Seven Stories’ best exhibition and visited with her son Steven, 7.

“It must be good for him to watch the stories come to life. He loves The Gruffalo and Cave Baby,” she said.

Anna Marie O’Brian, 37, from Cramlington said that her daughter Eve has been asking to come back to Seven Stories since her third birthday, which was a few years ago.

She said that Eve loved A Squash and a Squeeze and her other daughter Ella loved dressing up as the mouse from The Gruffalo.

The exhibition will be on display until April 2013.

Assignment for master’s program in Portfolio I. 

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