Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Gruffalo

Author                              : Julia Donaldson
Illustrations by                   : Axel Scheffler
Age range recommended : 3-7
Theme                              : Quick thinking, Overcoming your fear, Humour

Opening lines –  
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.”

Introduction and Synopsis –
A little mouse, walking through the forest in search of nuts, is accosted by sly predators who try to trick him into going with them to their homes for refreshemnts and friendly chat. The quick witted mouse outsmarts them by telling each one of them that he is on his way to meet his scary, monster friend, the gruffalo. The predators, so much more mightier than the mouse, meekly retreat at the mention of the gruffalo’s horrible features. The mouse continues on his way, feeling smarter than ever, having fooled the others by creating a creature out of thin air. Imagine his surprise – or horror -  when he comes face to face with a real gruffalo. What happens next? Does the mouse become the gruffalo’s little snack?

Why did my caterpillar and I like this book?
ME -
By far, this is among the best books I have come across in picture books. The best out of the amazing team that is Julia-Axel, undoubtedly. There are lots of things in this book to be fascinated with. The story line, for one. Then there is the free flowing, rhyming text, Axel's illustrations of the forest and the Gruffalo. And then, there is the adorable, brave little mouse – in the entire story, the mouse is threatened repeatedly by a series of animals who want to eat him, but there is not a single situation where the mouse looks afraid. Even the tiniest tot who is listening to the story would not fear for the mouse's safety - such is the cool headed demeanor of the little mouse. That’s the beauty of the story telling and the amazing artwork. Kids and grown ups alike would be rooting for the mouse from start to end. Julia, as usual, with her rhymes and easy flowing ‘prose-poetry’ wins us over.  The story is great to be read aloud and also for role-plays. A very interesting point that you will note is the 1-2-3 order of meeting the fox, owl and the snake while the mouse goes along and the 3-2-1 order when he return again on the same path. Very interesting point which doesn’t miss the attention of the children.

Another outstanding feature of the book is the creature itself – a gruffalo. Julia creates a mystical animal with physical features so beautifully detailed and illustrated, that your child will love and mildly fear at the same time. Use of humour throughout the book alleviates any feeling of fear in your baby’s heart. A big lesson imparted here is, might is not always, well, mightier! Brain is stronger than brawn. 

It is her most favourite book ever. She has all the illustrations imprinted on her head. The words just flow out of her mouth when she begins her retelling. It is tough for me to say which character is she enamoured more with – the mouse or the gruffalo. Though she roots for the mouse’s safety, the gruffalo is also dear to her! This book is going to be around for a long, long time to come.

Online link -
We found a video upload of The Gruffalo, the link is provided here. I wouldn’t really call it a great video, it doesn’t do justice to the story. There is an animation short film made on the book in 2009 which was nominated for the 83rd Academy Awards. A short link of the trailer is posted here : The Gruffalo - Trailer. We totally recommend watching the complete video. Its out-of-the-world awesome! 

The cocoon rates it -


If anything better than 100% was possible, we would rate this book at that level. It’s a must read, must-have book. 

We at the cocoon are huge fans of Julia Donaldson, more so of the Julia-Axel team. There are very few books of theirs that we wouldn’t recommend, or rate lesser than 5/5. The sequel to this book, ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ will be reviewed here soon. Another gem!

Here’s something about the author we love so much - She used to write songs before becoming a story-writer and this talent of her’s comes across abundantly in her writing. In 2011, she was appointed the Children’s Laureate, a position awarded in the UK for two years to a writer or illustrator of children's books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field. And she richly deserves the honour!

1 comment:

  1. When I have a kid and when she is old enough to be read to, I'm heading over here and buying everything on this list. Such adorable books! :)