Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's The Gruffalo is celebrating a monster birthday this year on the 23rd March! The book was first published 20 years ago after being brought to life by Julia's avid imagination and Axel's iconic illustrations. Then, in 2004, the story was continued with The Gruffalo's Child which saw fiction's favourite monster warn his daughter about the terrifying "Big Bad Mouse" from the deep dark wood. To celebrate 20 years since The Gruffalo was published, we've put together a list of 20 lessons The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child have taught us about life, morals, children's stories and ourselves.
1. We love a rhyming story.
Julia Donaldson is known for her rhyming style in her picture books and with good reason, rhyming has several benefits for children, including getting them familiar with rhythm of speech and language and teaching them about the sounds of words. Most significantly though, rhyming stories are fun. If a story is fun then children will want it read to them again and again!
2. Julia Donaldson is a fantastic writer.
There's a reason Julia's books have been read far and wide for years - it's because her books are filled with exciting characters, important messages and, of course, rhyme! The Gruffalo is one of her best-loved titles and it's not hard to see why!
3. Axel Scheffler is one of our favourite illustrators.
Axel brought The Gruffalo well and truly to life when he took all Julia's descriptions and turned them into the monster we know today, making him one of our very favourite children's book illustrators.
4. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are a picture book dream team.
They've created some amazing books with other illustrators and authors as well but we'll always have a special place in our hearts for the team that brought us The Gruffalo.
5. Picture books aren't just for children!
The Gruffalo is not just read by kids everywhere at bedtime, but by parents and guardians too so you know if it's this popular, The Gruffalo is definitely adult approved.
6. Don't believe everything you hear.
The animals of the deep dark wood are very quick to believe the mouse when he tells them about the Gruffalo!
7. No matter how small you feel, it doesn't mean you won't come out on top.
Despite all the other animals in the deep dark wood being much bigger and scarier than the mouse, he doesn't let this stop him from defending himself.
8. Brains over brawn.
The mouse uses his wits to outsmart the other animals in the deep dark wood which shows just how important using your head can be!
9. Imagination is a powerful thing.
The mouse may have made the Gruffalo up but imagination can be a powerful thing as he soon enough discovers when he comes face-to-face with a real Gruffalo!
10. Be careful what you wish for.
The mouse's lying certainly does comes back to haunt him.
11. Improvising and thinking on your feet is a skill.
The mouse has to think fast when he encounters various predators - especially when he meets the real Gruffalo.
12. Picture book sequels are a great idea and we want more of them.
It really didn't take long for The Gruffalo's Child to become one of our favourites alongside The Gruffalo.
13. Gruffalo children are adorable.
Axel Scheffler may have made the Gruffalo a scary figure in the first book but The Gruffalo's Child, on the other hand, is very cute!
14. Everyone has feelings.
The Gruffalo may be a monster and all the woodland animals may be afraid of him in The Gruffalo but when he is at home in his cave with his child, it's clear he's not so scary after all.
15. Listen to your parents/guardians.
In The Gruffalo's Child, The Gruffalo tells his child not to go to the deep dark wood but his child disobeys him and sneaks off to the wood anyway. She becomes scared when she comes across the Big Bad Mouse though (or what she thinks is the Big Bad Mouse anyway!) and quickly returns home. Which brings us to the next point...
16. Don't wonder off in the woods on your own.
The Gruffalo's Child definitely teaches us this one!
17. Curiosity can be a dangerous thing.
We all know being naturally curious is good to an extent but being overly-curious can lead to some risky situations which the Gruffalo's Child learns in her story!
18. Courage comes in many forms.
Whether you see the mouse as brave for thinking on his feet in a tricky situation or you can see the Gruffalo's Child as brave for going on an adventure to find the Big Bad Mouse, we can all agree these books show courage comes in many forms.
19. Picture books make amazing TV and stage adaptations.
Do we all remember watching The Gruffalo at Christmas? It was magical and now we look out for the new Julia Donaldson picture book TV adaptation every year.
20. There's no such thing as a Gruffalo... or is there?! (Sorry, we had to!)
Those are 20 things we've learnt from The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child. Happy birthday to The Gruffalo and let us know if you'll be celebrating this monster birthday on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.