The Gruffalo

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Title: The Gruffalo

Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books, 1999

Suitable for: Ages 4 – 8

Themes: Humor, Irony, Thinking on your feet

Opening Sentences:

A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.
Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
Come and have lunch in my underground house.
“It’s terribly kind of you, Fox, but no–
I’m going to have lunch with a gruffalo.”


A sneaky mouse outwits various forest animals who are anxious to gobble him up by scaring them off with tales of the ferocious gruffalo. But what will the mouse do when the gruffalo actually shows up?

Activities: Visit the Gruffalo Activity Site for games, coloring sheets, and more.

Why I Like This Book:

This is just a great, fun read-aloud book. The rhyming text and meter is pitch-perfect. Descriptions of the gruffalo are reminiscent of the monsters in “Where the Wild Things Are”. Younger kids will enjoy the colorful light-hearted illustrations and the repetitive lines for each encounter with a predator. Older readers will enjoy seeing the mouse outwit the other animals and being in on the joke, as well as the irony that the gruffalo really exists!

I read this book to a Kindergarten class and had them show me their terrible claws and their terrible tongues, which they loved. They also enjoyed the repetitiveness and were finishing some of the lines for me.

If you like this book also check out other books by Julia and Axel: The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on a Broom, and Snail and the Whale.


24 Comments to “The Gruffalo”

  1. Oh, it has been far too long since I read this wonderful, bouncy book. Thank you for the reminder, Dar 🙂

  2. Oh, I didn’t know there was a whole activity site to go along with the book. Awesome!

  3. Do you know, I have actually never read this book. It looks wonderful and I’m going to have to rectify that! Thanks so much for sharing it, and the wonderful activities!

  4. I will have to check this out. I love her book Room on the Broom!

  5. That sounds so fun, thanks! I love hearing about great picture books.

  6. Darshana, I’m so glad you included this book. I too have never read it and I can imagine that kids would be rolling in laughter as they cheer for the mouse. What a PPB selection! – Pat

  7. I’ve heard of this book but somehow have never read it. After reading your review, I *must* read it! Thanks, Darshana!

  8. Just read this one the other day and thought it was charming. Smart mouse!

  9. Looks like a great choice for read-aloud! Adding it to our library reserves now. Thanks!

  10. Great review! My kiddo loves this book and the movie version is great too. 🙂

  11. Sounds like a fun one to read to my son and for me to study for the rhyme and meter.

  12. Darshana, this is an excellent choice for the PPF. I love the swinging read aloud rhyme text. I can also see the connection to “Wild Things”. Kids willl just love this one, Thanks!

  13. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read this book!

  14. We love the Gruffalo! I also have Room on the Broom, which is a read-aloud favourite even among my kids’ non-English speaking friends. I never noticed that the author-illustrator are the same (doh!) but now that you’ve pointed it out I can totally see it!

  15. I have read this book! I love the the whole “Outwit. Walk. Outwit. Walk. Meet Gruffalo. WHAT?!?” 😉

  16. That sounds like a book my middle daughter would love! Thanks for the review! – The link appears to not be working?

  17. This is a great book. Every year my class loves it!

    Grade ONEderful

  18. I don’t know if they are available yet in the US but the BBC made animations of the Gruffalo (for xmas 2010) and the Gruffalo’s child (for xmas 2011) and they were really excellent – if you can track them down I whole heartedly recommend them.

  19. Besides being a mom of three, I have been a children’s bookseller and story time reader for almost 17 years. Julia Donaldson’s writing is fantastic! She has a true gift for writing in rhyme. I just read The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child at story time yesterday and I never get tired of them – or the rapt attention of the kids when I read. Room on the Broom is another fantastic book by Donaldson and Scheffler that, while kind of a Halloween book, reads like a great rhyming story about friendship any time of the year. Thanks for the great review!

  20. I love well-done rhyming pbs. And clever characters and ironic twists. I especially love activities to enhance a book experience. Thanks!

  21. Great review of a great book! The kids and I went on a Julia Donaldson picture book-reading spree after we read her chapter book together, The Giants and the Joneses (which is also wonderful). I posted about their favorites on my blog. I wish I could get my hands on a copy of that BBC animation of the story!

  22. Hello Darshana, this is also one of my favorite books – I should revisit this again. 🙂

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