Newest Review: ... in that time, The Gruffalo remains my favourite. I just think the story is so clever and of course, like all her books, its so nicel... more
Is it real or imagined?
The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson
Member Name: juicy_lucy
The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson
Advantages: Great story
Disadvantages: Non whatsoever
A FOX SAW THE MOUSE AND THE MOUSE LOOKED GOOD"
We bought this book some time ago, and from the start, it was a hit with little lady.
Having recently bought tickets for the live theatre production, it has once again become a "must read every night" book, and I for one, am not complaining.
The story follows the adventures of a little mouse who goes for a walk "through the deep dark wood, and meets up with a fox, who invites him to have lunch with him. Clever mouse declines (WE know he is the favourite snack for all of these forest creatures) and tells fox that he is going for lunch with a gruffalo. He goes on to describe the gruffalo "He has terrible tusks and terrible claws and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws". A frightening description for fox, especially when mouse adds that the gruffalo's favourite food is "roasted fox"
Exit fox, and on walks mouse, commenting as he goes "doesn't he know, there's no such thing as a gruffalo?"
Next animal who fancies a bit of mouse for tea is owl, who cleverly invites mouse to his treetop house for tea.
Again, the repetitive text whilst mouse declines this kind offer, telling owl he is meeting a gruffalo with "knobbly knees and turned-out toes and a poisonous wart on the end of his nose"… oh, and not forgetting, what gruffalo most likes to dine on is owl ice cream.
Exit owl, and
,as mouse walks on he comments "doesn't he know there's no such thing as a gruffalo?"
By this stage of the story, children who have heard it before are shouting that there IS a gruffalo, and children for whom it is the first reading are beginning to realize that there is a pattern to the story, and have usually memorized the repetitive text.
Back to mouse, who is still wandering through that wood, and what a perilous journey it is becoming. Next, he meets snake, who asks him for a feast (what a popular mouse); mouse may be small but he is wise, and realizes snake's game. He tells snake that he is meeting a gruffalo whose "eyes are orange…tongue is black, … purple prickles all over his back". And yes, you've guessed it…his favourite meal is scrambled snake. EEK!! Poor snake slithers off but how silly, "Doesn't he know, There's no such thing as a gruffal…
As mouse stops and looks, he sees a creature EXACTLY as he described the gruffalo to the other animals, and he is worried.
Time for some fast thinking when the creature spots the mouse and tells him that his favourite food is mouse on a piece of toast.
Mouse is quick and clever and the children love this! He tells gruffalo that all of the animals in the wood are afraid of him, which of course the gruffalo finds more than a tad amusing, but decides to follow mouse and test out the theory.
They meet up with, in turn, snake, owl and fox, all the animals who wanted to eat mouse.
However, when they see mouse with the gruffalo, the mouse's original story is confirmed…he IS friends with this terrible creature.
Time to beat a hasty exit!!
When the gruffalo is satisfied that mouse is in fact the scariest creature in the wood, mouse terrifies him further by telling him that HIS favourite food is gruffalo crumble.
Another hasty retreat, this time by the gruffalo, leaving the mouse alone.
"All was quiet in the deep dark wood.
The mouse found a nut and the nut was good"
Axel Scheffler has worked with Julia Donaldson on most of her successful books and has won many prizes for his illustrations, which is highly justifiable.
I liked the illustrations from the start…the front cover shows a little mouse walking innocently past a gruesome creature. This is where this book moves from a great story written in rhyming couplets to a superb picture book; the pictures match the text and almost tell their own story.
All of the illustrations are quite simply drawn, with a black line around and simple, quite muted colours-quite "innocent" drawings- children believe they could copy them…this is how they draw, with a pencil, and then fill in the object.
Throughout the book, the little mouse is seen only from the side- all we can see is one white eye and there is his little white tummy and there, for contrast, is the gruffalo, a truly scary creature. It was little lady who noticed that when he is telling lies, he always closes his eye…have a look, and yes, he does. When I have pointed this out to children, they think it is so that he is not "found out".
There is a sense of vastness about the forest with no clearly defined ending place, leaving children wondering how big it is, and often worrying that the mouse might get lost.
This largeness is contrasted with the small very detailed pictures of the gruffalo's physical characteristics; these small drawings are used when the mouse is describing the gruffalo. I have used this type of drawing to ask children to draw various creatures…we get all of the specifics and then make it into one big picture.
My copy is published by Macmillan (1999) but I have seen it published in board book form by Campbell Books
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The Gruffalo has his/her very own website!
Great site and very child friendly. Play games on line, read about the Gruffalo and join the Gruffalo Gang.
For performance details, check out…
This site has information on where the story is being staged and there is a video of the play which has been produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Company
**OTHER BOOKS BY JULIA DONALDSON**
Julia Donaldson has written several excellent books for children. These are some of my favourites…
One Ted Falls Out of Bed
Sharing a Shell
The Magic Paintbrush
Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose
Night Monkey Day Monkey
A Squash and a Squeeze
Room on The Broom
The Gruffalo's Child
The books tend to be rhyming and appeal to a wide age range of children.
**HIT OR MISS?**
An excellent book, which little miss loves and will join in with all of the words- in fact, she can read the story to me now, especially because the pictures are such a perfect match for the text.
When children first meet the gruffalo, depending on their age, they can be terrified; look closely, I was told by a 5 year old- his teeth are blunt! This takes the fear away and I always think he looks quite a sad creature.
The rhyming, repetitive text makes it easy for young children to learn the text, and so gain confidence and enjoyment of the text.
I do a lot of work on emotional learning and have used this to discuss heroes and tricksters. Children find the mouse a lovable rogue and want to think of ways they could outwit the gruffalo. The lies the mouse tells make perfect sense to children; it is a question of survival, and what would they say if they were being bullied? Probably much the same as the mouse, although more along the lines of "I'll bring my dad/big brother". Great book to read alongside "The Three Bill Goats Gruff"- they each have a big friend.
We like the fact that the mouse is victorious and outwits even the biggest of creatures.
Just an idea, which I tried out yesterday- ask the children to imagine what would be said and what would happen if the mouse had met other animals on his journey. This encouraged lots of discussion, such as what animals they could meet (is there a hippo in a wood?), and the 8 and 9 year olds wrote brilliant rhyming couplets.
Act it out, read it for fun, look at the pictures, point out the rhyme, but whatever you do, enjoy.
I truly believe this will be a classic!!
Thanks for reading.
Summary: Great rhyming book for children of all ages