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The Gruffalo -- Julia Donaldson

Guest poem sent in by Martin Davis
(Poem #1615) The Gruffalo
 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 gruffalo?  What's a gruffalo?"
 "A gruffalo!  Why, didn't you know?

 He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws,
 And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws."

 "Where are you meeting him?"
 "Here, by these rocks,
 And his favourite food is roasted fox."

 "Roasted fox!  I'm off!" Fox said.
 "Goodbye, little mouse," and away he sped.

 "Silly old Fox!  Doesn't he know,
 There's no such thing as a gruffalo?"

 On went the mouse through the deep dark wood.
 An owl saw the mouse, and the mouse looked good.

 "Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
 Come and have tea in my treetop house."

 "It's terribly kind of you, Owl, but no –
 I'm going to have tea with a gruffalo."

 "A gruffalo?  What's a gruffalo?"
 "A gruffalo!  Why, didn't you know?

 He has knobbly knees, and turned-out toes,
 And a poisonous wart at the end of his nose."

 "Where are you meeting him?"
 "Here, by this stream,
 And his favourite food is owl ice cream."

 "Owl ice cream!  Toowhit toowhoo!"
 "Goodbye, little mouse," and away Owl flew.

 "Silly old Owl!  Doesn't he know,
 There's no such thing as a gruffalo?"

 On went the mouse through the deep dark wood.
 A snake saw the mouse, and the mouse looked good.

 "Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
 Come for a feast in my logpile house."

 "It's terribly kind of you, Snake, but no –
 I'm having a feast with a gruffalo."

 "A gruffalo?  What's a gruffalo?"
 "A gruffalo!  Why, didn't you know?

 His eyes are orange, his tongue is black,
 He has purple prickles all over his back."

 "Where are you meeting him?"
 "Here, by this lake,
 And his favourite food is scrambled snake."

 "Scrambled snake!  It's time I hid!"
 "Goodbye, little mouse," and away Snake slid.

 "Silly old Owl!  Doesn't he know,
 There's no such thing as a gruffal...?"

 ...OH!"

 But who is this creature with terrible claws
 And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws?
 He has knobbly knees, and turned-out toes,
 And a poisonous wart at the end of his nose.
 His eyes are orange, his tongue is black,
 He has purple prickles all over his back.

 "Oh help!  Oh no!
 It's a gruffalo!"

 "My favourite food!" the Gruffalo said.
 "You'll taste good on a slice of bread!"

 "Good?" said the mouse.  "Don't call me good!
 I'm the scariest creature in this wood.
 Just walk behind me and soon you'll see,
 Everyone is afraid of me."

 "All right," said the Gruffalo, bursting with laughter.
 "You go ahead and I'll follow after."

 They walked and walked till the Gruffalo said,
 "I hear a hiss in the leaves ahead."

 "It's Snake," said the mouse.  "Why, Snake, hello!"
 Snake took one look at the Gruffalo.
 "Oh crumbs!" he said, "Goodbye, little mouse!"
 And off he slid to his logpile house.

 "You see?" said the mouse.  "I told you so."
 "Amazing!" said the Gruffalo.

 They walked some more till the Gruffalo said,
 "I hear a hoot in the trees ahead."

 "It's Owl," said the mouse.  "Why, Owl, hello!"
 Owl took one look at the Gruffalo.
 "Oh dear!" he said, "Goodbye, little mouse!"
 And off he flew to his treetop house.

 "You see?" said the mouse.  "I told you so."
 "Astounding!" said the Gruffalo.

 They walked some more till the Gruffalo said,
 "I can hear feet on the path ahead."

 "It's Fox," said the mouse.  "Why, Fox, hello!"
 Fox took one look at the Gruffalo.
 "Oh help!" he said, "Goodbye, little mouse!"
 And off he ran to his underground house.

 "Well, Gruffalo," said the mouse.  "You see?
 Everyone is afraid of me!
 But now my tummy's beginning to rumble.
 My favourite food is – gruffalo crumble!"

 "Gruffalo crumble!" the Gruffalo said,
 And quick as the wind he turned and fled.

 All was quiet in the deep dark wood.
 The mouse found a nut and the nut was good.
-- Julia Donaldson
Following on from the Richard Edwards poem, I would like to continue the
theme of childhood poetry and submit for your consideration 'The Gruffalo'
by Julia Donaldson.  I only discovered it last week, when searching in the
College library for a book I could read to a four year old I'd been asked to
babysit over the weekend.  (My own son is 34, so I'm a bit out of touch with
children's books!)

I picked it up because I was taken with the illustration on the cover and
the pleasing portmanteau name of the eponymous central character; but then,
when I came to read it, I loved the spare narrative, the repetition with
variation, the overall quest structure of entering a labyrinth and
returning, and the central twist to the story.  I'm sorry that you're
missing the wonderful illustrations by Axel Scheffler, particularly his
insouciant mouse and befuddled gruffalo, but I think that the poem is so
strong that it stands without them.  It's also, of course, got that element
that you really need with small children – it's great fun to perform!  This
is a real classic in just 693 words; I bet that those who are three and four
now will be reading it to their children in years to come!

Martin Davis

[Links]

 The official gruffalo website is at :
   http://www.gruffalo.com/

 and this has links through to information about Julia Donaldson and Axel
 Scheffler.

 A UK Theatre Company is running a touring stage production in 2005 :
   [broken link] http://www.tallstories.org.uk/shows/gruffalo/

24 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

tim carroll said...

My children love the gruffalo & it's sequel the gruffalo's child. we've read them over & over again until we know it off by heart! it's one of my favourite books to read to them and the stage show is brilliant too! appeals from 2 to 82!

Lydia Gutierrez said...

Thank you for sharing.

I am a Kindergarten Teacher at the International School of Panama and my
class is so enthusiastic about the Gruffalo.

The words are fun and easy to remember and the idea of a brave mouse
outsmarting the Gruffalo is a priceless characteristic in this world of
grown ups. Thank you,

Whittaker Charles said...

My two year old granddaughter thinks this is the best poem/story ever.
She and her grandad (me) have lots of fun reading and laughing at it
over and over. I even introduce it to students as poetry that has simple
rhymes, wonderful rhythms, repetition, alliteration, stimulation for the
imagination, loads of emotion, and a great story.

Best wishes............Charles

Senior Lecturer
Oxford Brookes University

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