This rhythmic read-aloud par excellence follows a clever mouse on a walk through the deep dark wood, where he encounters several hungry inhabitants who want to make him their main course. Lacking size or strength as defenses, quick-witted Mouse instead taps the powers of his imagination to create the gruffalo, a ‘terrible creature with terrible claws, and terrible tusks in his terrible jaws.’ But will Mouse’s frightful description be enough to ruin the appetites of his determined foes? After all, there’s no such thing as a gruffalo. Oh, no??
The eponymous character introduced by this British team owes a large debt to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. When Mouse meets Fox in the ‘deep dark wood,’ he invents a story about the gruffalo, described very much like Sendak’s fearsome quartet of wild things–‘He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.’ The gullible fox runs away when Mouse tells him that the gruffalo’s favorite food is roasted fox. ‘Silly old Fox!’ says Mouse, ‘Doesn’t he know?/ There’s no such thing as a gruffalo!’ Owl and Snake follow suit until, with a turn of the page, Mouse runs into the creature he has imagined. Quick-thinking Mouse then tells the monster, ‘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 to be terrified of the tiny mouse, but readers can plainly see the real object of their fears. By story’s end, the gruffalo flees, and Mouse enjoys his nut lunch in peace. Despite the derivative plot line, debut author Donaldson manipulates the repetitive language and rhymes to good advantage, supplying her story with plenty of scary-but-not-too-scary moments. Scheffler’s gruffalo may seem a goofy hybrid of Max’s wild things, but his cartoonlike illustrations build suspense via spot-art previews of the monster’s orange eyes, black tongue and purple prickles until the monster’s appearance in full. Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
The little mouse fools his enemies with tales of his friend, the gruffalo. What is a gruffalo? When a fox comes along who thinks the mouse looks tasty, a gruffalo is a creature with terrible tusks, claws and jaws whose favorite delicacy is roasted fox. When an owl swoops down because the mouse looks good, a gruffalo is a monster with knobbly knees, turned-out toes and a wart on his nose who loves owl ice cream. When a snake slithers through the wood and wants to feast on the mouse, a gruffalo is a fearsome thing with orange eyes, black tongue and prickles on his back that has an appetite for scrambled snake. The mouse laughs at his enemies for believing there is such a thing as a gruffalo until he himself encounters the huge beast. Indeed, there is such a thing as a gruffalo and now the mouse must be smart enough to fool his biggest enemy! The illustrations are grand, especially the uprooted tree trunk which looks just like a monstrous claw reaching out from the wood.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-To save himself from being eaten by a fox, an owl, and a snake, an enterprising mouse declares that he is having lunch with a monster whose favorite food just happens to be the animal who is at that moment threatening him. With each telling, the gruffalo becomes more menacing until all of the rodent’s tormentors leave him unharmed. The mouse scoffs at them, for everyone knows ‘There’s no such thing as a gruffal….’ But a turn of the page reveals-you guessed it-a gruffalo, that thinks the mouse will ‘…taste good on a slice of bread.’ Undaunted, the rodent devises a plan to frighten the monster off. Young readers will love the humor in this preposterous story of a trick that backfires and the way the protagonist talks himself out of his difficulties. Best of all, they will relish being in on the joke as they join in the reading of the