As you can see from the picture, Clare recently decided to pay tribute to The Gruffalo by drawing a picture of the monster, so I thought it was time that I pay tribute to the book myself. It was our dear friend Nicole who discovered The Gruffalo for us. She found the movie version of The Gruffalo at the library along with the book The Gruffalo's Child. The girls were immediately entranced and we soon located a copy of the original book which became a favorite bedtime story. As a guest reader in Meg's preschool class last year, I shared the book and the teachers were so taken with the story it is now part of the regular book rotation at their preschool. The Gruffalo has also become one of our go-to birthday gifts for the numerous preschool birthday parties we attend.
The Gruffalo tells a story of a mouse who outsmarts a series of predators by saying he is meeting the Gruffalo--a supposedly imaginary monster of whom the mouse gives fantastically terrible descriptions. As each predator leaves, the mouse mocks, "Silly old [fill in predator]! Doesn't he know? There's no such thing as a gruffalo." But to the mouse's surprise, he soon encounters a Gruffalo, who meets every aspect of the description the mouse has given. When the Gruffalo threatens to eat the mouse, the mouse responds, "I'm the scariest creature in this deep dark wood." The incredulous Gruffalo follows the mouse through the wood as the mouse makes the Gruffalo believe that the mouse (and not the Gruffalo himself) is scaring each of the predators. The book ends with the wonderfully peaceful lines, "All was quiet in the deep dark wood. The mouse found a nut and the nut was good."
I'm not completely sure what makes this book so endearing. Certainly the rhyme and rhythm of the words are superb. Clare, in particular, loves rhyme (I call her my little Dr. Seuss) and that is certainly part of the attraction for her. The language is so rhythmic that both the reader and listener can easily recite the story after reading it regularly for a brief time. When I read the book to Meg's class last year, she recited it word for word right along with me. The story is also just funny and is written with those fantastic British turns of phrase that make things sound even funnier. Then there are the illustrations. The colors are vibrant and the characters are drawn with fabulous expressions. If you haven't read this book, go read it now and share it with every child you know.