A monster turn-out for writer's visit
IF a mouse took a stroll into Sherborne on Thursday, it would have met with hordes of excited children also waiting for a lunch date with a hungry Gruffalo.
More than 700 people queued outside Winstone's bookshop, on Cheap Street, to get their favourite books signed by author and children's laureate Julia Donaldson.
The bestselling author of more than 150 books visited the town during a tour of the South West.
Mrs Donaldson is best known for inventing national favourite The Gruffalo which tells the story of a mouse who journeys through a dark wood fending off deadly prey by saying he was due to meet a fictitious Gruffalo, which turns out to be a real, quite friendly, monster at the end of the story.
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The author spent nearly four hours signing books in what was planned as a two-hour visit.
Mrs Donaldson said: "It was very full on but I really did enjoy it."
She said she was already a fan of the town's literary connection.
Mrs Donaldson said: "My husband's niece lives here and we've visited the town on holiday.
"I'm pleased to see Winstone's is thriving. It's always nice to see an independent bookshop doing well."
Shop owner Wayne Winstone said the turn out for the event was "astonishing", adding: "We knew Julia would be popular but we had no idea how many people would turn up.
"Julia arrived and signed books solidly until she left just after 7pm.
"She was lovely and it was a great event for the community.
"There were a lot of happy children by the end of the event."
Mrs Donaldson's next book, Paper Dolls, is due to be released by the end of this month.
She has also created a website for teachers to encourage children to take part in plays based on picture book stories.