Of the thousands of books in the school library I ran for a decade, one of the most beloved was a goofy-looking picture book by the British author Julia Donaldson. Just named the UK’s new Children’s Laureate, Donaldson has written more than 120 books. If you can pick up only one of her lively, engaging books, go for The Gruffalo.
“A gruffalo? What’s a gruffalo?”
“A gruffalo! Why, didn’t you know? He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.” Or so says a clever little mouse, as he frightens off a fox, an owl, and a snake, and makes his way through the threatening forest.
In a clever twist, the fearsome creature the mouse described to his hungry predators turns out to be oh-so-real. What’s a tiny rodent to do? Keep bragging! “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 terrified of the mouse, but we readers can see what they really fear.
This rhythmic, delightfully repetitive romp is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Scheffler’s child-friendly illustrations give readers even more reason to guffaw. Keep the fun rumbling with the sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child. Both for ages 3-6.
- Telling tales (bbc.co.uk)
- Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson named Children’s Laureate (independent.co.uk)