Walking With The Gruffalo
By Sharon Hurley Hall
A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good
This is the start of the popular children's story written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Alex Scheffler.
A mouse goes for a walk in the woods. He meets an owl, a snake and a fox, who invite him for lunch. The mouse wisely suspects that he might be the main course and refuses, saying that he's lunching with the gruffalo. He describes some of the gruffalo's more offputting features to the animals and manages to continue his walk until, to his surprise, he comes face to face with the real gruffalo, who wants to eat him. The mouse then uses a bit of ingenuity to attempt to save his skin.
The book comes in lots of varieties. There is a 24 page board book (which is the one I have and which retails at $4.99) and a large format paperback book, similar to others in the series. The front cover shows a picture of the mouse and the gruffalo and there are colorful illustrations on every page, not just of the main characters, but of their homes and surroundings, providing plenty for both children and adults to look at. The style of illustration is a bit strange (lots of bulging eyes and faces) but the animals are recognizable and you soon get used to it.
The story is told in rhyming verse. As with most children's book, there is repetition of the essential elements as the mouse encounters each animal and by the third reading, my daughter was able to fill in the words at the end of each line (wood/good; mouse/house; no/gruffalo) as well as to fill in the parts of the gruffalo's body described in the early part of the story. A year later, she's repeating whole phrases and it probably won't be long till she knows the story by heart.
But will they learn anything?
It's a very good story, but there are also educational elements as well, if that's what you want. While reading this story, your offspring can learn the names and living spaces of the different animals, as well as parts of the body and colors.
What we thought
For a short time (two year olds can be quite fickle) it was my daughter's favorite story, which had to be read at least five times a day. Even now, a year later, it is a story she requests regularly.
I love this story too and never get tired of reading it (which is perhaps just as well). It's great fun to read aloud because of the rhymes and the voices you can do for the different animals. The cleverness of such a small creature is also attractive to small readers. This is a story that is destined to be on our bookshelf for quite a while. I look forward to the day when my daughter can read it to me.
Beyond the Gruffalo
There is a sequel, The Gruffalo's Child, as well as an audiobook titled The Gruffalo Song.
My daughter and I loved the story so much that we were delighted when she received a couple of other books by the pair: The Snail and the Whale and Monkey Puzzle. I've also bought The Smartest Giant in Town (also sold as The Spiffiest Giant in Town in the US) and have A Squash and a Squeeze and Room on the Broom firmly in my sights. All of them are great stories and are available at around $10. Many have audiobooks and other add-ons to go with them.
The Gruffalo is suitable for all ages and has everything you would want in a book, whether for adults or children: great characters, good plot and a twist in the tale. Don't miss it.
Sharon Hurley Hall is a freelance writer, ghostwriter and editor. Sharon worked in publishing for 18 years, writing articles and editing and designing books and magazines. She has also lectured on journalism. For more information or to contact Sharon, visit http://www.doublehdesign.com/
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