The Gruffalo
written by Julia Donaldson
illustrated by Alex Scheffler

Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo
Illustrated by Alex Scheffler

Children's book review by Jane Finch.

Ages 3-8

A Tale of a Mouse and a Monster

So we have a little mouse, a big scary wood, and a mixture of other animals that would probably gobble the mouse up in one go. So how can the mouse survive his trip into the dark wood?

Using his skill and guile and being very clever, that’s how.

So the little mouse decides to explore the deep, dark wood. As he meets a variety of predators he outwits them by telling them about a monster he has named the Gruffalo.

As he meets a fox, an owl, and a slimy snake, he manages to convince them that they don’t have time to eat him, because a huge ugly and scary monster is lurking in the woods, ready to eat them. Review continues.

The Gruffalo, images collaged

Terrified, they hurry away and the mouse congratulates himself on getting out of a somewhat sticky situation.

But of course, the Gruffalo is not just a figment of the mouse’s imagination, but really exists.

This is a witty story, told in rhyme, and is amusing and entertaining in the way it is told.

What I like about this story is at first it plays on the fears most children have of monsters, describing horrendous attributes of the monster, such as a black tongue, purple spines, and terrible tusks. Imagine the mouse’s surprise when the Gruffalo really appears and is just as he described. But this monster is not really scary at all. Although he threatens to eat the mouse, the clever little mouse tells the Gruffalo that he is the most feared animal in the wood.

Together they walk through the wood, meeting the other animals who all run away in fear. Poor old Gruffalo doesn’t realise they are running away from him, and thinks they are all scared of the mouse.

So in the end the little mouse fools them all, every animal who would seek to eat him.

So the story cleverly shows that even the most terrifying monster is not as frightening as it may seem.

The Gruffalo is an excellent reading book for 3-5year olds to read with their parents. The amazing and amusing illustrations turn this enticing story into a pleasurable experience as the reader can watch as the mouse’s journey progresses through the wood.

This is a delightful story of a mouse and a monster. It really shows that however much a child may delve deep into their mind to come up with the most gruesome monster, it is never as bad as they imagine it may be.

The author, Julia Donaldson, and illustrator Alex Scheffler have worked together to produce a book that encompasses funny, scary, witty, and results in a truly magical story.

The Gruffalo has won a number of awards including the best book to read aloud. That is because the various voices of the characters can turn this into a really enjoyable story to listen to. Therefore it is ideal for infant teachers. Most recently it won the BBC Radio 2 Best Bedtime Story Award in the United Kingdom.

Monster? What monster?

Webmaster's note: Julia Donaldson's The Fish Who Cried Wolf is also reviewed on this site.

More Halloween and monster books.

Read more of Jane's reviews.

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