The Gruffalo. Julia Donaldson. Illustrated by Axel Scheffler. 1999. Macmillan Publishers. 24 pages.
“The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson follows a clever Mouse who claims to be dining with a Gruffalo to avoid being eaten on his way through the deep, dark wood. Mouse is shocked to come across the not-so-imaginary monster he had been describing all day but, thinking quickly, claims to be a fearsome monster himself. As the Gruffalo walks alongside the Mouse he becomes increasingly impressed with how scared the other animals are and eventually runs away to avoid being eaten by the Mouse. The story is based on a Chinese folktale but, struggling to find words that rhymed with “tiger”, Julia Donaldson came up with the word “Gruffalo” and so a well-loved story was born.
The illustrations by Axel Scheffler are a lovely mix of full page and close-up images in woodsy greens and browns. Focusing on the Gruffalo’s description, such as his orange eyes or knobbly knees, in the close-up images was particularly helpful and allowed ThisBoy to keep track of the story. When combining these close-up images with the rhyming couplets throughout, it is almost impossible to read without falling into a lovely rhythmic pattern. This not only makes it easier to get through a long story for a two-year old but also means ThisBoy can remember the story better and chime in along the way.
I was surprised to find that ThisBoy wasn’t afraid of the Gruffalo at all, despite him supposedly being a fearsome monster. This was probably in large part due to Mouse’s calm response and Gruffalo’s cheerful smile or worried expression throughout. While ThisBoy is convinced that the bear from We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is hiding around the corner or in the bath ready to chase him, he happily sits with his Gruffalo soft toy on his lap as we read this book before taking him to bed.
About the Author
Julia Donaldson is the talented, prize-winning author of the world’s best-loved picture books and was the 2011-2013 UK Children’s Laureate. Her books include Room on the Broom, Stick Man, What the Ladybird Heard and the modern classics The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, which have sold 17 million copies worldwide.
Mum’s Score: 5 out of 5
I expected ThisBoy to get bored quite quickly as it’s rather long, however, the rhythmic phrases flow beautifully and he loves chiming in with the Gruffalo’s descriptions.
ThisBoy’s Score: 5 out of 5
He absolutely adores this book and likes to point to his own eyes or toes as we describe the Gruffalo and often asks for the “Ruffalo” at bedtime.