The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was kid the best writers, for me anyway, were Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl.  Roald Dahl is still up there in my imaginary Top 10 List of favourite writers ever, but I don’t think I’ll even bother introducing Thomas to Enid Blyton.  Instead, I am wondering if Julia Donaldson will enter my son’s future list of all time great writers; we certainly have enough of her books around the house to give him a push in that direction.

The Gruffalo is such a famous book now that there isn’t much more that I can say that hasn’t been said by a million writers far better than me.  Instead, I am going to talk about its role so far in Thomas’ short life.

My first encounter with the story was through the BBC animated film of the book that stars Robbie Coltrane and Helena Bonham Carter, among other great actors.  It is a wonderful short film, full of charm and wit as well as being beautifully and lovingly produced.  The only surprise is that it didn’t win the Oscar for that year. (The Lost Thing won instead.  I mean, it’s cool and deep and meaningful and everything.  But better than The Gruffalo?  But then again, what does Oscar know about anything?  He also rewarded Titanic with 145 times and it was one of the worst films ever).

When we found out my wife was pregnant, one of the first things we got was a board version of the book which is suitable for the many tests a baby can put a book through.  It was one of the first books I ever read to a Thomas; I even read it to him before he was actually born.  I love using different voices for the different characters, including a Cockney fox, a snake who hisses all of the letter ‘s’ sounds and an owl who hoots everything.  My favourite, though is the Gruffalo himself, although if I have to read it too often his gravelly voice kills my throat.

Both my wife and myself have now read the book so often that we almost don’t need the book anymore.  Thomas still loves it and the wonderful animation from Alex Scheffler.  Whenever he see the Gruffalo tries to imitate my growl and always wants me to rush to the pages with the big hairy monster on them.  He now has the sequel book and film, The Gruffalo’s Child (he got a bit scared by the film so we have only seen it once so far), as well as Gruffalo pyjamas and a wooly Gruffalo hat.  We have another version of the book which is bigger but not a lot more delicate.  This one is kept on a high shelf so that he can’t destroy it, but the board book is kept down on ground level and happily shows signs of being well-loved.

We have a lot of other books by Julia Donaldson, which I hope to write about later.  If I had to recommend just one book for any new parents, though, it would be this one (closely followed by Dear Zoo).

Related articles

The Gruffalo:

Maryam’s Pick of the Day – The Gruffalo:

The Gruffalo Official Site:

BBC’s The Gruffalo:

Dear Zoo: (I got the inspiration to write about what a book means to my family, rather than the book itself, from this site).


13 thoughts on “The Gruffalo

    • There are so many other great books around that I don’t think I can bear reading the Famous Five or the Secret Seven again. You can read them to him when he is there on his holidays.

  1. I agree. I’ve discovered The Gruffalo when my son started to go to school – as we are German/Dutch/Italian speaking – but we still love it! My kids now can read it by themselves, but still enjoy it and I think it’s definitely among the most loved books in our family. Thanks a lot for writing about this. I’m looking forward to reading your next post!

    • Hi Expatsincebirth,

      Thanks for your kind comment.

      It is good to know that we are probably going to be reading this book for a long time to come. Hopefully Thomas will know all the words as well as us.

  2. My son is 10 and has just about finished all the Roald Dahl books he can get his hands on. Together we read Danny, the Champion of the World. It wasn’t what I expected, but surprisingly good, different from his other books. Read to your son for as long as you can. I have been so amazed at the bond my son and I have through books and how much he loves reading. Not sure how we ever missed The Gruffalo! It feels like we read everything. 😉

    • Hi Muddlemom, thanks for stopping by.

      Danny the Champion of the World is still one of my favourite books. It is very different to his other books and maybe the reason I still love it is because it felt more like a grown up’s book at the time so when I read I thought I was getting to be a big boy. I hope to carry on reading with my son for as long as I can so I hope I can bond with him like you have with yours.

  3. Loved reading this 🙂 Blyton can seem a bit dated now, can’t it? I read a bit recently and found it read like a really bad advert. Some books just don’t follow us into adulthood.

    P.s. Thank you for saying my Dear Zoo post inspired you. That’s the nicest thing I can ever hear 🙂

    • I loved the way that, instead of just talking about the book you also talked about the effect it had had on you and your family. I have often read, and written, straigh reviews of books, but yours was a refreshing angle.

  4. The Gruffalo is truly delightful! I have a copy in French which I read to my son, and I also recommended that the public library order a copy of the movie so that more people can see it!

    I had never heard of Enid Blyton (perhaps she is less known in the US?) until some French friends suggested “Oui-Oui” as a good chapter book choice for me to read to Griffin in French. Apparently the British boy Noddy is “Oui-Oui” in French. I did find some Oui-Oui cartoons in French on YouTube–Griffin liked them but I was less impressed–and eventually a book which I read to him last year. He doesn’t remember it at all–and yet it was one of the first chapter books he experienced!

    Gruffalo pajamas sound absolutely adorable, by the way.

  5. Pingback: Bilingual children: why reading is important, part 3 of 3 « multilingual parenting – bilingual children

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