Jul 9, 2011
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler
"A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood. A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good." Fox invites mouse to have lunch with him in his underground house. But the clever mouse, knowing he's about to become Fox's lunch tells him, "It's terribly kind of you, Fox, but no - I'm going to have lunch with a gruffalo.-" Of course, the fox has never heard of such a thing, so the mouse begins describing the gruffalo: "He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws." He tells Fox he's meeting gruffalo right there and that his "favorite food is roasted fox." Fox speeds away in complete terror and Mouse laughs "Silly old Fox! Doesn't he know? There's no such thing as a gruffalo!"
The same scene takes place when the mouse meets an owl and then a snake, both of whom would love to eat mouse, but end up running away in fear of becoming the gruffalo's lunch instead. Then, just as mouse thinks he's outsmarted his predators with his tall tale of the gruffalo, who should he run into but no other than the gruffalo, matching his description perfectly. The gruffalo's favorite food is...mouse of course. Thankfully, our clever mouse is quick on his feet and tells the gruffalo: "I'm the scariest creature in this deep dark wood. Just walk behind me and soon you'll see, everyone for miles is afraid of me." As the pair walk through the woods they come across the snake, the owl and the fox who, at the sight of the gruffalo, all run away terrified. Mouse turns and looks at gruffalo and says: "Everyone in the wood is afraid of me! But now my tummy is beginning to rumble, and my favorite food is...gruffalo crumble!"
I've read this book three times today. My son has fallen in love with The Gruffalo as have I. He really enjoyed the mouse's cleverness in the face of predators and a monster like the gruffalo. It allows kids to root for the underdog and feel like with their wit they can take down the scariest of monsters. The rhymes and pattern of the story make it a great read aloud -and in no time you'll hear the kids joining in. The illustrations are a fantastic complement to the story and they provide clues as to what the characters are really thinking which help younger kids get the point of the story. Whether they get it or not though, I promise you they'll have fun with The Gruffalo.