The Gruffalo is a story about a very clever mouse who outsmarts several dangerous animals on his walk through the woods.

“The mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.”

Each animal he meets – a fox, a snake and an owl – invites the mouse back to their house (intending to eat him) but the mouse politely declines and convinces them that instead, he is meeting a gruffalo – a scary bear-like creature who just happens to enjoy eating that animal.

“It’s terribly kind of you, Fox, but no –
I’m going to have lunch with a gruffalo.”
“Where are you meeting him?”
“Here, by these rocks,
And his favourite food is roasted fox.”

The animals get scared and run away, leaving the mouse alone.

The mouse describes the gruffalo’s monster-like features in great detail but knows “…there is no such thing as a gruffalo”, until he comes face to face with one!

You and your child will enjoy this descriptive story with fabulous rhyme and cunning ways that a mouse gets out of dangerous situations!

Tips for Parents

  • A little long for newborns, this story suits preschoolers and older children.
  • Discuss with your child the animals that live in the woods – those that are friendly and those that are not. Axel Scheffler’s fabulous illustrations will be a guide – birds, butterflies, squirrels, foxes, owls, snakes.
  • With the description of the Gruffalo’s ‘terrible’ features, point to the pictures on the page or on your child. For example, “…knobbly knees, and turned-out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose.” Make this a fun part of the story by repeating the same actions each time.
  • It is not obvious just by reading the story that each animal wants to eat the mouse. Discuss the changing facial expressions and intentions of the characters in the story.
  • Discuss with your child the mouse’s plight. When faced with the big and scary gruffalo the mouse was able to use his smarts to outwit him and scare him off too!

Julia Donaldson

Prize-winning author Julia Donaldson has been writing children’s books for over 20 years. She grew up in London and her career also included singing and songwriting.

She has written over 160 books, the first of which was ‘A Squash and A Squeeze’. This book (originally one of her songs for television), plus the popular ‘Snail and the Whale’ and ‘The Gruffalo’ were all illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

 

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