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An Introduction to The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child

Julia Donaldson's gorgeous picture books, The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child, have been beloved children's favourites since 1999. Find out all about them here.

About The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child

The Gruffalo (1999) and The Gruffalo's Child (2004) are two bestselling children's picture books by author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler. The first book stars a cunning little mouse and a rather strange but loveable creature who is half-grizzly bear, half-buffalo. The sequel follows the Gruffalo's intrepid daughter, who also stumbles across the little mouse.

The Gruffalo became the UK's bestselling picture book of 2000, won the 1999 Nestle Smarties Book Prize and was awarded the Blue Peter Best Book to Read Aloud Award, amongst other accolades. In 2009, a short film adaptation of The Gruffalo was broadcast on Christmas Day, much to the delight of the books' many fans.

Plot of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child

The Gruffalo

When a cunning little mouse bumps into a hungry fox, an owl and a snake in the forest, he scares them all away by claiming to be meeting a 'gruffalo' for lunch, describing the creature in frightening detail! He scoffs as each animal flees, knowing that there's no such thing as a gruffalo. But then - to the mouse's disbelief - a real gruffalo appears right before his eyes!

The Gruffalo wants to eat the mouse, but the mouse claims to be the scariest creature in the wood and that he can prove it, if the Gruffalo will only walk behind him. They walk through the forest and bump into the fox, the owl and the snake again. Upon seeing the Gruffalo, each animal flees in terror, but the Gruffalo thinks they run in fear of the mouse. When the mouse says that he's getting hungry and that his favourite food is gruffalo crumble, the Gruffalo runs away in fright. The mouse is left to eat a nut in peace!

The Gruffalo's Child

The Gruffalo tells his daughter that no gruffalo should ever set foot in the deep dark forest, because the Big Bad Mouse will get them. The Gruffalo can't remember exactly what the mouse looks like, but tells his daughter what he remembers of the terrifying beast: a long, scaly tail, fiery eyes, and whiskers tougher than wire!

One snowy night, the Gruffalo's Child becomes bored, and decides to sneak off into the deep dark forest. She comes across a snake, an owl and a fox, but no Big Bad Mouse. She concludes that the Big Bad Mouse must be a trick, and that she doesn't believe in it.

But then, a mouse appears - not a Big Bad Mouse, but a little one, the perfect size for a midnight snack! However, before the Gruffalo's Child can eat him, the little mouse tells her that there's someone she ought to meet. He climbs to the top of a hazel twig and stands in the light of the yellow moon. This causes a terrible shadow to fall upon the snow which looks just like a Big Bad Mouse - it's big and strong and carries a nut the size of a boulder! The Gruffalo's Child runs away in terror. She returns to the gruffalo cave and curls up with her father, leaving the little mouse to eat a nut in peace!

Why We Love The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child

First off, the stories themselves! In The Gruffalo, we love how clever the little mouse is, firstly fooling the fox, the owl and the snake to get away, and then fooling the Gruffalo by pretending to be the scariest creature in the forest! In The Gruffalo's Child, we can certainly relate to the adventurous spirit of the Gruffalo's Child, but we're very pleased when the cunning little mouse ends up outsmarting his predator again.

Next, we love the illustrations. Axel Scheffler's wonderful, inimitable pictures bring something truly magical to these enchanting stories. His illustrations are full of charm and personality, and the characters are unique and iconic.

Finally, Julia Donaldson's rhyming verse is not only great fun to read aloud, but also helps children learn to read and develop their phonics skills. The repetition and rhymes help little ones to match certain letters with certain sounds, and ensure that children (and adults!) have fun whilst they learn!

If you can't get enough of these wonderful stories, you can explore our full range of Julia Donaldson books.