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
The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson
Member Name: hotrock4
The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson
Advantages: A great read, with excellent educational benefits
First released in 1988 The Gruffalo is one of many successful publications written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler and has sold over 10 million copies in its 25 years of existence. The Gruffalo is actually a book I remember fondly from my own childhood and is a title I was keen to get a copy of for our daughter. With a recommended price of £6.99 I am usually priced out of buying books like this on the high street, however I pretty reliably manage to find them new for around the£3.50 mark either in one of the big supermarkets or after a quick search on the internet, and at that price they are a definite bargain.
Julia Donaldson as always seems to effortlessly make the telling of the story fast flowing and rhythmic, as the reader follows a mouse on its journey through the deep dark wood only to encounter a fox, an owl and a snake all of which think that the mouse looks good to eat and can't wait to invite him back for lunch. However each animal that the quick witted mouse meets is soon put off when he tells them the reason he is taking a stroll in the deep dark wood is to meet The Gruffalo for tea. When the mouse tells the fox of The Grufallo's terrible tusks, and claws and the fact that its favourite food is roast fox, the fox beats a hasty retreat. As the mouse gets further into the wood his imagination runs away with him as he describes the imaginary Gruffalo to each animal but he has no idea he is about to come face to face with his own creation.
Once again however the quick witted mouse manages to think fast and get out of trouble by telling The Gruffalo how he is the scariest animal in the wood. Not convinced The Gruffalo decides to take a stroll with the mouse back through the deep dark wood meeting the animals again along the way. As soon as the animals see that the mouse is accompanied by The Gruffalo they take flight and hide, which manages to convince The Gruffalo that the mouse really must be the scariest creature the wood and when the mouse mentions his favourite food is Gruffalo crumble The Gruffalo is sure not to hang around.
Following the mouse on its stroll through the deep dark wood is an amusing adventure even for adults especially when reading aloud due to the lyrical writing style and the fact that the book rhymes so easily throughout without detracting from the story itself. Julia Donaldson's writing style makes The Gruffalo great for reading aloud to younger readers from 18 months up as the way emphasis is placed on words due to the way the text rhymes and flows really well means our 2 year old daughter has picked up loads and loads of words from Julia Donaldson books in the last year. This said however I can see the Gruffalo coming to life when being read with a group of kids as there is opportunity to join in on every page due to the repetitive nature of the story and the fast pace is enough to keep the little ones from getting bored too quickly, whilst allowing for the book to be read in 5 - 10 minutes if needs be.
The style of the writing and the pace that the story trots along at makes this a captivating read that in no way shows its age and the fact that it was first published over 25 years ago, and could just have easily been published yesterday. In my eyes this book outshines most modern children's books that I have read to my daughter over the past couple of years and is on par with Julia Donaldson's other publications.
In my opinion Axel Scheffler's illustrations easily keep up with the quality of Julia Donaldson's writing, and are again somehow timeless meaning they hold the same appeal and amusement for my daughter now as they must have for me 25 years ago which I consider to be an amazing feat. Whilst being simple the illustrations are full of colour and background action with lots to name and point out along the way apart from what is going on in the main characters and what is going on in the story. The balance of words and illustrations is perfect with the illustrations polishing off the story rather than being over bearing.
Whilst there is plenty to look at in each illustration they fit perfectly alongside the text in the story meaning they are a great aid for not only teaching words, but also what those words relate to. If the text was completely removed from this book the pictures would do a great job of telling the story by themselves, which I feel is another reason that this book is a great educational tool. The bright bold illustrations from Axel Scheffler also do a great job of portraying The Gruffalo, as whilst my daughter knows that The Gruffalo is a scary creature she is not actually scared of it and I feel this book could have been completely different if The Gruffalo had been mis-represented.
The Gruffalo is one of the titles from nearer the beginning of Julia Donaldson's and Axle Scheffler's partnership and it shows this in no way what-so-ever. The way the illustrations fit snugly around the story and the way that Axle Scheffler seems to bring Julia Donaldson's characters to life in his illustrations really shows that these two combine to great effect with the illustrations really taking The Gruffalo a cut above the rest.
In conclusion just in case you haven't already guessed I feel that this is another great book from the Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler team being perfect in just about every way I can think of. I have tried picking holes in it and found nothing that I can actually fault this book on. It is great for reading aloud as well as being a great educational tool. The pages and covers of the book wipe clean if caught quickly enough with a baby wipe, and are pretty resistant to tearing although our copy does have a few felt tip marks in which we didn't catch in time.
Whilst the recommended price of these books is generally on the expensive side I do feel that books from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler really are worth the £6.99 asking price and anything cheaper than this is truly a bargain so it is great they are generally available on the internet for around half this price. So overall from me I cannot fault this book in anyway what-so-ever, and given the fact that both me and my daughter love to sit down and read this book together definitely makes this worth 5/5 stars in my eyes.
Summary: A great reader for younger and older readers alike.
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