What would happen if a shrewd little wood mouse decided to rebel against all his predators? Armed with nothing more than big eyes, big ears, and a big idea, how would this tiny creature be able to pull off the most brilliant of bluffs and convince the whole forest to fear him above all others? Would it work? Would he finally be able to strut through the trees without fear and inhibition? Or would everyone discover it was all an elaborate ruse?
A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.
"Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
Come and have lunch in my underground house."
"It's terribly kind of you, Fox, but no--
I'm going to have lunch with a gruffalo."
The root of all mealtimes, little brown mice receive a multitude of invites for lunch each day. Unfortunately for all the hungry hosts, this little brown mouse is too imaginative to give in easily. One by one, he politely declines each invitation with a simple explanation- he has other plans. As to avoid any fumbling, trying to keep all the excuses and fibs straight, he tells them all the same iron-clad story. He's going to have lunch with a gruffalo. A gruffalo "has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws."
As to avoid being roasted, scrambled, or turned into ice cream, the fox, snake, and owl scurry off with a scream. Genius. Little brown mouse is a genius! Flaunting his wit and planning his peaceful afternoon, little brown mouse's swagger is stopped mid-stride when he looks up to see...a real GRUFFALO! "My favorite food!" the gruffalo said. "You'll taste good on a slice of bread!" Uh. OH.
This quick-witted mouse will not be stopped now- he has come too far to give up. He spins the wheel again with yet another layer of fabrication:
"Good?" said the mouse. "Don't call me good!
I'm the scariest creature in this deep dark wood.
Just walk behind me and soon you'll see,
Everyone is afraid of me."
And off they went. You can imagine how it went when little brown mouse ran into fox, snake, and owl again with a gruffalo closely peering over his shoulder. Suffice to say, it worked! No more anxiety before turning every corner or struggling to find a peaceful spot to relax!
All was quiet in the deep dark wood.
The mouse found a nut and the nut was good.
Julia Donaldson's innate ability to hook the reader with an addictive, cheerful repetition and rhyme, once again, did not disappoint. We first fell in love with her writing in Tyrannosaurus Drip. In my post celebrating the delightful duckbill dinosaur, I learned more about her extensive background, "Before becoming the author of over 165 books for children (including the award-winning, top-selling The Gruffalo which was turned into a successful movie), Donaldson grew up in London. She was a very imaginative child, always writing plays and choreographing ballets for herself and her sister. After meeting her guitar-playing husband while studying Drama and French at Bristol University, they started to write songs together. The songs 'led to a career in singing and songwriting, mainly for children’s television,' as she states on her website. 'I became an expert at writing to order on such subjects as guinea pigs, window-cleaning and horrible smells. "We want a song about throwing crumpled-up wrapping paper into the bin" was a typical request from the BBC.' One of her television songs was made into a book in 1993. From there, she has become published as both an author and a playwright and has most recently been the chosen Children's Laureate in the UK."
Our love for her works was further amplified when we were introduced to her seamless collaboration with the talented illustrator Axel Scheffler in Room on the Broom. From my post about the catchy, witchy tale, "Axel Scheffler, born in Hamburg, Germany, always loved animals and had childhood dreams of becoming a naturalist. Even though he loved to draw, he never sought out to become an illustrator. Taken from an interview by Isabel Abiston for The Telegraph, Alex explains, 'After school I decided to live abroad for a while and enrolled in a visual communications course at Bath Academy of Art. It was while I was studying there that I first thought about becoming an illustrator.' Following his time adorning the grounds of Corsham Court with drawings of sheep and peacocks, 'Scheffler then moved to London where he began illustrating for a variety of English and German Advertising companies, magazines and newspapers before moving into book illustrations in the 90's which is when the Gruffalo was created,' as shared here. He has since earned 'worldwide acclaim for his humorous illustrations, and his books have been translated into over 29 languages' (source)."
When I first heard The Gruffalo sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, won numerous awards, was translated into over 30 different languages, adapted into two films (The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child) and for the stage in a West End (click here for tour dates in the UK) and Broadway play, I was puzzled. How can a children's book with a big, scary monster on the cover be that successful? After reading it myself, I adored the story, but was still a bit uneasy about reading it to my daughters. At 2 and 4 years old, I didn't want them to wake up from Gruffalo nightmares or be too scared to sleep in the woods on camping trips. I took the plunge anyway and read it to them. Each and every night since, when I ask them each to choose their favorite book for me to read, they both grab The Gruffalo. Charlotte has the entire book memorized and recites it all the time. Claudia likes to sleep with it at night, bring it with her in the car, and pack it in her bag on vacations. It was an instant classic- guaranteed to be one of the few books they'll remember as adults.
Needless to say, The Gruffalo earned 5 out of 5 blueberries as our fifteenth Blueberry Book! It is recommended for ages 5-8. Obviously, I believe you can read this to all ages, younger and much older!
The Giveaway***This giveaway has ended. Please subscribe to stay updated on future giveaways!***
I waited a few extra days to post this Children's Book Week giveaway. If you'd like to be entered to win a free hardcover copy, 'like' our facebook page, then share the giveaway link on your page! I'll be mailing two lucky winners The Gruffalo after announcing their names on Monday, May 27th! Good luck!
|Poster by Brian Selznick|
To all of our wonderful educators, a plethora of activities for the classroom are available to stir the minds of your little ones! Click here for fantastic printables for The Gruffalo including Gruffalo Party decorations, matching games, spot the differences, word search, maze, finger puppets, and more! If you have headphones available, let them make the characters sing in chorus by clicking here (choose games, on top left)! My girls love it!!
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