Tag Archives: mouse

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 89 – Spring Story (Brambly Hedge)

It’s a beautiful spring morning in Brambly Hedge where busy mouse families have made their homes for generations. While the mice are hard workers, they also make time for fun, and they welcome any opportunity to celebrate. All year long the mice “mark the seasons with feasts and festivities,” and this fine spring morning Mr. Apple has found another excuse to organize a soiree: little Wilfred Toadflax is celebrating a birthday today! What else is there to do but work together to plan a surprise birthday picnic for little Wilfred?  It’s a capital idea, and it all comes together perfectly in “Spring Story” by Jill Barklem.

Thanks to behind-the-scenes planning led by Mr. Apple and Lord Woodmouse, Wilfred is given an enormous basket to cart to the picnic. After much arduous “heaving and pulling, wheeling and hauling” he is rewarded for his hard work upon discovering that the basket is packed with presents and an enormous cake! At last, following a full day of preparing for the picnic, enjoying tea, napping under the bluebells (for adults), and playing hide-and-seek in the primroses (for the young mice), the mouse families return home and fall fast asleep. Sounds like a lovely day to me (especially the napping part).

spring story

“Spring Story” is one of many tales in the Brambly Hedge series by Ms. Barklem. It is a darling little book full of adorable and intricate illustrations. Ms. Barklem reportedly spent five years on research before starting her Brambly Hedge books. Her thoughtful approach and the appreciation she has of her craft comes through on the pages of her books. The drawings in “Spring Story” are carefully rendered in whimsical and vibrant detail. I can easily imagine little hands picking this book up just to pore over the fascinating depiction of the Apple Family tree house. In fact, I wanted to be able to climb inside their house myself! I also took note of the time that Ms. Barklem spends filling in little details of everyday life in the Hedge, including the many wonderful names she introduces for the characters and places (Crabapple Cottage, Store Stump, Wilfred Toadflax, Old Oak Palace, Lady Daisy Woodmouse, Elderberry Lodge, and more!). It all works together to create a complete world inside what is otherwise a fairly simple storyline.