Bedtime stories for my young daughter used to be a hit and miss affair.
Disappointment would often be etched across both our faces as we turned the final page of the latest children’s book.
So many used unsuitable language or encouraged unsuitable behaviour or were just plain nonsense and a complete waste of trees.
But this all changed when I discovered Julia Donaldson.
Young Cerys’ bookshelves are now bursting with the prolific author’s rhyming picture books – and not one of them is a dud.
Her masterpiece is, of course, The Gruffalo, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, which has sold 10.5 million copies and is the most borrowed book from Birmingham’s libraries.
When a mouse goes searching for nuts in the deep dark wood he meets a fox, an owl and a snake, who all invite him for dinner – mouse being the main course.
The clever rodent scares off the predators with tall tales of the terrifying Gruffalo but then comes face to face with the very creature he’d imagined.
It was adapted for the stage in 2001 and is coming towards the end of a two-week stint at the Town Hall.
But does the play live up to the book? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Although, in fairness, it was never likely to.
In the hour-long show, the fox takes the form of a wheeler-dealer, the owl an eccentric pilot and the snake a maraca-shaking party animal.
The roles of mouse, fox, owl, snake, Gruffalo and story-teller are taken by just three actors and costumes are sadly sacrificed to enable quick changes.
Perhaps a bigger disappointment was the set which was just a handful of trees in front of a black curtain, which could surely have been painted.
Nevertheless, the actors did a sterling job and the songs which embellish the story, though not very sing-along, were well written and performed.
The most exciting part for Cerys, who’s nearly four, was when the Gruffalo made a foray into the audience, although this was all too brief.
A little more audience participation all round would have been welcomed although the show did manage to hold her attention.
And, as any parent will tell you, that’s the main thing.
Until Sunday. A special “relaxed performance”, specifically for people with an autistic spectrum condition, a learning disability or sensory and communication disorder, will be staged on Sunday. The show will be Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, over Christmas.