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The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo

5.0 20
by Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler (Illustrator), Skip Skwarek (Editor)

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This rhythmic read-aloud par excellence follows a clever mouse on a walk through the deep dark wood, where he encounters several hungry inhabitants who want to make him their main course. Lacking size or strength as defenses, quick-witted Mouse instead taps the powers of his imagination to create the gruffalo, a "terrible creature with terrible claws, and terrible


This rhythmic read-aloud par excellence follows a clever mouse on a walk through the deep dark wood, where he encounters several hungry inhabitants who want to make him their main course. Lacking size or strength as defenses, quick-witted Mouse instead taps the powers of his imagination to create the gruffalo, a "terrible creature with terrible claws, and terrible tusks in his terrible jaws." But will Mouse's frightful description be enough to ruin the appetites of his determined foes? After all, there's no such thing as a gruffalo. Oh, no??

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The eponymous character introduced by this British team owes a large debt to Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. When Mouse meets Fox in the "deep dark wood," he invents a story about the gruffalo, described very much like Sendak's fearsome quartet of wild things--"He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws." The gullible fox runs away when Mouse tells him that the gruffalo's favorite food is roasted fox. "Silly old Fox!" says Mouse, "Doesn't he know?/ There's no such thing as a gruffalo!" Owl and Snake follow suit until, with a turn of the page, Mouse runs into the creature he has imagined. Quick-thinking Mouse then tells the monster, "I'm the scariest creature in this deep dark wood./ Just walk behind me and soon you'll see,/ Everyone for miles is afraid of me." Fox, Owl and Snake appear to be terrified of the tiny mouse, but readers can plainly see the real object of their fears. By story's end, the gruffalo flees, and Mouse enjoys his nut lunch in peace. Despite the derivative plot line, debut author Donaldson manipulates the repetitive language and rhymes to good advantage, supplying her story with plenty of scary-but-not-too-scary moments. Scheffler's gruffalo may seem a goofy hybrid of Max's wild things, but his cartoonlike illustrations build suspense via spot-art previews of the monster's orange eyes, black tongue and purple prickles until the monster's appearance in full. Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carolyn Mott Ford
The little mouse fools his enemies with tales of his friend, the gruffalo. What is a gruffalo? When a fox comes along who thinks the mouse looks tasty, a gruffalo is a creature with terrible tusks, claws and jaws whose favorite delicacy is roasted fox. When an owl swoops down because the mouse looks good, a gruffalo is a monster with knobbly knees, turned-out toes and a wart on his nose who loves owl ice cream. When a snake slithers through the wood and wants to feast on the mouse, a gruffalo is a fearsome thing with orange eyes, black tongue and prickles on his back that has an appetite for scrambled snake. The mouse laughs at his enemies for believing there is such a thing as a gruffalo until he himself encounters the huge beast. Indeed, there is such a thing as a gruffalo and now the mouse must be smart enough to fool his biggest enemy! The illustrations are grand, especially the uprooted tree trunk which looks just like a monstrous claw reaching out from the wood.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-To save himself from being eaten by a fox, an owl, and a snake, an enterprising mouse declares that he is having lunch with a monster whose favorite food just happens to be the animal who is at that moment threatening him. With each telling, the gruffalo becomes more menacing until all of the rodent's tormentors leave him unharmed. The mouse scoffs at them, for everyone knows "There's no such thing as a gruffal...." But a turn of the page reveals-you guessed it-a gruffalo, that thinks the mouse will "...taste good on a slice of bread." Undaunted, the rodent devises a plan to frighten the monster off. Young readers will love the humor in this preposterous story of a trick that backfires and the way the protagonist talks himself out of his difficulties. Best of all, they will relish being in on the joke as they join in the reading of the delightfully repetitious rhyming text. Scheffler's cartoonlike illustrations, rendered in watercolor, colored pencils, and ink, are large and well paced. Facial expressions contrast the animals' alarm with the jaunty nonchalance of the mouse. The double-page spread that reveals the gruffalo-terrible claws, black tongue, poisonous wart, purple prickles, and all-is just scary enough to tickle but not frighten youngsters. Serve this one for a rollicking good time.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community-Technical College, CT Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 4-8)

From the Publisher
A clever, exuberant story in rhyme with strong, color-saturated pictures to match . . . This is a sure bet. (Booklist)

A rollicking good time. (School Library Journal)

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.75(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.33(d)
AD200L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
A clever, exuberant story in rhyme with strong, color-saturated pictures to match . . . This is a sure bet. (Booklist)

A rollicking good time. (School Library Journal)

Meet the Author

Julia Donaldson lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

Customer Reviews

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The Gruffalo 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
psycheKK More than 1 year ago
One of my friends recommended this book after she read one of my four-year-old son's stories.  She thought he might like it and be able to relate to the mouse.  She was very right.  My son scares away scary monkeys and other terrifying creatures in his stories.  He certainly can relate to this mouse. I read that Julia Donaldson originally planned for the gruffalo to be a tiger, but had to create a gruffalo to fit her rhyming scheme.  I am so glad that she did.  The mystery of the gruffalo builds the suspense of this tale.  This book pays homage to Sendak's "Where The Wild Things Are", but still stands easily on its own.  The rhyme and meter are well done and the conclusion is quite satisfying. The illustrations by Axel Scheffler also pay homage to Sendak, but they, again, stand very well on their own.  All the expressions and emotions of the mouse are conveyed by the eyes, tail and arms -- everything else remains almost static.  It is a very effective technique. The gruffalo is scary, but not too scary; he does look as if he might be tricked by a clever mouse.  All in all, I'm glad my friend recommended this book.  It makes a delightful addition to my son's library. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is adorable. My Granddaughter (almost 3) loved it. I ordered the movie at the same time and it was well worth it. Although the movie expanded on the book, it was delightful. I highly recommend the book and movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this for my 3 year old and it's been a great find. He loves to read it together and I really enjoy as well. I would highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 2 1/2 year old son just loves this book. I read it at his school and they loved it too. 
Meg_Thompson More than 1 year ago
My children (2 & 4) love, Love, LOVE this book! AND it's an entertaining read for the adults - much better than some. Cute, witty, funny - we highly recommend this book. My daughter, almost 2 and a little speech delayed, yells out "GOOD!" each time the word pops up in the story and both kids bounce up and down SO excited when its time for the Gruffalo to finally show up. If you have a toddler who loves stories as much as mine do buy it - they will love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My children (now 7 and 4) have loved this book for years and choose it many times throughout the year for the nighttime story! I have read it to each of their classes, as well, and it is always a hit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story has the repeatition that kids love. The book gives the mouse characteristics that are charming, smart and fun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
shrcsy More than 1 year ago
This story is great to be read to toddlers and pre-schoolers. I have 3 grandchildren who all want it read and re-read! I highly recoommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would also recommend Julia Donaldson's other books: The Gruffalo's Child, Room on the Broom, The Snail & the Whale...all FABULOUS stories! Great story lines and rhyming that helps children of all ages remember the tales!
Helena_Harper_Author More than 1 year ago
An acquaintance with young children lent me this book, when he knew I was interested in writing children's stories myself. He said his children loved the book and, once I'd read it, I could see why. It's a beautifully illustrated tale, demonstrating how brain can overcome brawn, as a small mouse escapes the clutches of various, dangerous woodland animals by threatening them with a huge, hideous and apparently imaginary creature called the Gruffalo, only to then be met by the huge, hideous creature himself (perhaps another moral here i.e. be careful what you wish for, you may get it). So he is then required to exercise his ingenuity once more to escape becoming a tasty Gruffalo dinner. The rhyming verse appealed to the poet in me and, in my opinion, makes the story an ideal one to be read out loud to young children and aquaint them with new vocabulary. I wish I had come across this book sooner, when my niece and nephew were younger, because they would have loved it!
Nutleaf More than 1 year ago
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson shows how a small creature can survive in a world full of predators. Instead of falling prey to all the animals that dine on mouse, he makes all those predators fear him. There is a great moral to this story even for young readers - that you can be strong no matter how small you are and persevere in a world full of bullies and condescending people. It is also fun and easy to read. My 6 year old son loved to read this book himself - which is normally no easy task. This is an excellent book for any age group. We loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Man, this book is fun and smart and has fabulous illustrations. My mom, son and I have a blast quoting from it. Big fun.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My 1.5 and 2.5 year olds love this books - we've read it hundreds of times. It is a cleaver story line, where a tiny creature, potentially threatened by so much around it, instead goes fearlessly forward with confidence and cunning and outwits his way to tranquility. I am slowly collecting all the Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler books and they are all to the same high standard. Wonderful ryhmes that pre-readers can help 'fill in' when you read. Great lessons in these books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What an incredible magical combination of author and artist, and what an outstanding set of books this collaboration has produced. The Gruffalo is an amazing tale that reminds me of many stories I read as a child: It has a wonderful combination of characters like The Little Red Hen, a sequence of events similar to The Old Woman and Her Pig, and the magical elements of many fairy tales. I believe Julia Donaldson is every bit as talented in creating rhyme as the great Dr. Seuss. The language has exceptional flow and makes this a fantastic read aloud book. Both children and adults will marvel at the ingenuity of our tiny hero on his journey, as well as his charm. The artwork is brilliant, and the story is superb. I recommend The Gruffalo for everyone who loves great stories and beautiful children's books. J.H. Sweet, author of The Fairy Chronicles
Guest More than 1 year ago
We came across The Gruffalo when we were living in England, where it is better known than it is here (the author is Scottish). My own children loved it, so I was happy to find a copy when we got back home to Seattle. It's a favorite with my kindergarten class as well!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have 5 kids (18 months to 8 years old) and a husband. This is the favorite for ALL of us. We can't believe it's not a best-seller! It's a great family gift at Christmas or for birthdays (ages 3-5).
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very cleverly written and the illustrations are adorable too. It lightheartedly shows how even a little mouse can protect himself from all the creatures of the forest by just using a little wit to outsmart his predators. My 5 year old daughter and I came across the book in the library. We read it every night for 3 weeks. When it was time to return it she did not want to part with it. I placed it on her Christmas list of books to purchase. She will be pleasantly surprised!