The Gruffalo

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A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.

Why on Earth did I buy The Gruffalo?

I mean, how did I even come across it? Before I had kids, I wasn't interested in contemporary children's picture books and I certainly knew nothing about The Gruffalo.

For certain, I know I didn't find it in Jim Trelease's The Read Aloud Handbook that I bought more than a year ago to help guide me as a parent in this new world (for me) of Kid Lit.  

I think that I stumbled across The Gruffalo while browsing UK online bookshops. It wasn't fate, there simply was no way to miss this phenomenon. I would have to be heavily sedated not to see a book with hundreds of reviews  - averaging 5 out of 5 stars.

That's what did the trick.

Hundreds of fantastic reviews ... five stars ... five stars... five stars... and enthusiastic parents with enthusiastic kids.

My God, I had to see that picture book.

The partnership between author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler is now a famed partnership.

Interestingly, they work completely independently and when Donaldson finishes her copy, only then Scheffler reads it and draws the pictures on his own.

The result of their partnership is long series of hits such as Tabby McTat, Room on the Broom, The Monkey Puzzle, A Squash and a Squeeze, The Gruffalo's Child, Stick Man... All are illustrated in the same characteristic style and almost all are as good as The Gruffalo. 

But The Gruffalo undeniably has a secret of its own.

As a read aloud - The Gruffalo is pure magic.

It is so easy to read, the rhymes are perfect and witty.

Cover of The amount of text on each page should maybe be recorded as a golden standard for picture books, while Scheffler's full-page color illustrations are entrancing.

I almost feel guilty that I am enjoying myself so much while reading a children's book aloud.

Is reading aloud to kids really supposed to be so much fun?
I started reading The Gruffalo to my son and daughter when they were 2.5 years old and my son warmed up to the book immediately, while my daughter was a bit reticient because of the presence of the "monster" in the book.

Almost a year has passed since we started and The Gruffalo remains an always popular book in our family library.

Interestingly, my son still loves it more than my daughter, but they both ADORED the simple language and the forest characters such as the fox, the owl and the snake.

As far as I can see, they have co-opted the Gruffalo into a small list of fascinating beings and whenever they see a forest my kids ask me about the Gruffalo. 

Cover of Throughout the book, the very clever mouse is walking through the woods and meets a host of animals that wish to eat him, but being as cunning as he is - the mouse frightens them off by mentioning a terrible Gruffalo that he is supposedly meeting.

"He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws." Everything goes smoothly until the mouse unexpectedly meets the very monster he imagined in his head, but the mouse keeps his cool and tricks the Gruffalo into thinking that all the 
animals in the woods are terrified of the mouse. The Gruffalo runs away afraid...

The story is presented in fabulous rhyme and we all know it by heart as a result.

The Gruffalo opened up a new world of read alouds for my family - the world of Donaldson and Scheffler.

Yes it is a special category of books that my kids adore. My daughter is in love with Tabby McTat, while the Gruffalo is an idol for my son.

My advice to you is simply, don't lose time. Take the plunge! You won't be alone - The Gruffalo has been in the in the Top 100 Children's Books on Amazon UK for the past - take a seat - 1392 days! Yes, almost four years non-stop.

available from Amazon US 
available from Amazon UK


  1. The whole post is really very interesting and impressive. The Gruffalo Publication is a great option to provide to your really like ones. The amazing Gruffalo guides are the ones, that your children will ask you to study over and over again, evening after evening.

  2. Thanks @ellisdwilliam:disqus ,

    Indeed the book is still of great interest to my kids - they adore it.

    A true timeless classic!

    Read Aloud Dad

  3. Definitely HUGE over here and Donaldson is prolific. My personal favourite is the Snail and the Whale. I would also recommend the amazing Pumpkin Soup trilogy by Helen Cooper.

  4. Hi Howie!

    Donaldson's opus is indeed enormous! We love her and Alex's books!

    The Snail and the Whale (and her other books - Tiddler, etc...) is indeed fabulous, but we never heard about the Pumpkin Soup trilogy!

    Thanks for the great book trilogy tip, I will check it out :-)

    (I simply love book series!)

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @986ec48776624298507cd42fa8b0be74:disqus