Tag Archives: fox

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.”

A simple stroll through the deep dark wood quickly becomes a perilous journey for a little brown mouse in Julia Donaldson’s outstanding read-aloud classic, The Gruffalo. Not to worry, however! The protagonist of this thoroughly delightful picture book may be small, but he is daring and clever in the face of danger…even when his story takes an unexpected twist.

As he proceeds on his way, the audacious mouse is invited to lunch with a fox in his den, to have tea with an owl in his treetop house, and to a feast with a snake in his cozy log-pile home. Faced with these unattractive alternatives, what can a little brown mouse do to tactfully avoid becoming someone else’s meal? Ms. Donaldson’s protagonist declines each invitation, confessing to a prior engagement with a formidable creature called a Gruffalo who is due to arrive at any moment, and whose description becomes increasingly fearsome with every encounter. As each would-be host flees in terror, the mouse chuckles to himself…don’t they know? There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo!

Or is there?

When the mouse is unexpectedly confronted with the living, breathing, real-life version of his imaginary beast (who happens to particularly like the taste of mouse!), our little hero promptly turns the tables one more time, and comes out on top.

With the help of Ms. Donaldson’s rhythmic, rhyming prose and with characters brought so humorously to life by Axel Scheffler’s colorful illustrations, this book instantly became a favorite of reader and listener alike in our home. The cover illustration alone was enough to make our youngest pick this book over a stuffed Paddington bear.

As with several of Ms. Donaldson and Mr. Scheffler’s collaborations, The Gruffalo is available in a Scots “translation” for anyone interested in a challenging but entertaining read-aloud – just be sure to bring your best Scottish brogue.

Also, if you enjoy The Gruffalo as much as we do, we heartily recommend the sequel: The Gruffalo’s Child!

Day 76 – Sun and Moon

“Sun and Moon” by Lindsey Yankey presents a variation on the old adage that the grass always appears to be greener on the other side of the fence. Adorned with boldly colored and richly detailed illustrations, it is a lovely story about learning to appreciate the beauty that is already all around you.sun moon

The moon has spent his lifetime in the dark and he feels as though his world is too often lonely and boring. He imagines all the dazzling things that the sun must see on his journeys across the sky, and he wishes that for just one day he could trade places with his daytime counterpart. The sun agrees, but with two conditions: the trade will be irrevocable, and before he makes his decision, the moon “…must spend an entire night in the sky looking very closely at the earth – closer than (he) ever has before.”

The moon is thrilled and agrees to the sun’s conditions, expecting that he will see nothing from his place in the night sky that will change his mind. Instead, he observes (or rediscovers) in his midnight world all manner of enchanting scenes that would never present themselves in the daylight. He watches the “vibrant life of a nighttime carnival”,  foxes heading out to hunt, children dreaming, a family of raccoons on the prowl, and booming fireworks that remind him of wildflowers he has only ever seen in his dreams. Perhaps most moving, however, is his sudden appreciation of the stars: “he hadn’t paid much attention to (them) before, but now they were all around him, so near he could even hear them smile.” By the end of the tale, the moon has learned his lesson. He wishes “for nothing more than to spend the rest of his nights enjoying the exciting and wonderful things that (come) to life in his moonlight.”

Based on what we have learned so far this year about the process of getting a book published, I am especially impressed at writers who are their own illustrators. The two jobs are difficult enough on their own, but Ms. Yankey has managed to do both, to great effect. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is an endearing parable, with imagery and artwork that effectively convey an appreciation for the tranquil beauty of the moon’s nighttime world.