Reviewed by Honor McConnell



For over 20 years, The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, has been a certified classic, British children’s book. With its catchy rhymes, trickster plot, and fun illustrations, it’s no surprise it was voted as “England’s favourite bedtime story” by the BBC. 

Inspired by the classic Chinese folktale “The Fox that Borrows the Terror of the Tiger,” Donaldson tells the tale of a little mouse wandering through the forest alone. He’s accosted by a few predators, like an owl and a fox, who try to lure him to “teatime.” But Mouse explains he’s on his way to meet his friend, a huge mysterious beast called 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…and his favourite food is roasted fox!”


Mouse, who in this case is the trickster, tells this lie to all the predators of the forest. But like most trickster folktales, Mouse’s deceit backfires when, much to his surprise, he meets a real gruffalo. Thanks to the illustrations by Axel Scheffler, the gruffalo’s reveal and memorable look is funky and fun, yet just “monster-like” enough to delight any young child. 

The plot, while simple, is full of fantastic rhymes and alliteration — which make it especially a joy to read out loud in a classroom or bedtime setting. Scheffler’s quirky illustrations highlight the true mystery of the story, as bit by bit, you and your child begin to wonder: “what’s a gruffalo?” 


26 Pages

For ages 2-5 years