Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Gruffalo Book and Film Adaptation: A Review

The Gruffalo - The Book

I believe I've mentioned before that The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson is one of our favorite children's books. It is available in both paperback and hardback, but my favorite version is a non-abridged board book. It is durable for multiple readings with small children.

The story is about a mouse taking a walk through the woods who uses his wits to convince three predators (fox, owl, and snake) to let him go or risk the wrath of his friend the "gruffalo". The gruffalo, the mouse believes, is a creature entirely of his own imagination so he is surprised to encounter a real gruffalo later in the book. The gruffalo is also looking to make a snack of the mouse and the mouse uses his wits again to outsmart the gruffalo.

The story is written in rhyme and is a lot of fun to read out loud. The story begins and ends peacefully with a happy mouse walking alone in the woods. It is a great read and I highly recommend it.

The Gruffalo - The Move Adaptation

I seriously cannot think of a better adaptation of children literature. This 30 minute film is extraordinary. The animation is exquisite. The voice actors are perfect. The writers that did the adaptation worked magic. Everything in the original story is there and yet they added so many layers. Through a combination of good writing, animated facial expressions, and outstanding voice acting you can actually see the mouse coming up with his story to the fox including how he comes up with the name "gruffalo" for his imaginary monster. And that is just one tiny example of what this film adaptation does to enrich the book. I put it on for the children and they were entranced for the full show through the end of the credits. My husband wandered in from the kitchen and sat with us through the entire showing because it was just that good.

The only caveat I have is that is might be scary for the youngest or more timid viewers. The predators are a little scary as is the gruffalo. Overall though, the film comes no where close to crossing any lines there, but I felt I should mention it. My kids were scared a little, but in the good way.

Seriously, this was absolutely the best adaptation of a picture book I have ever seen. I honestly think that it might be better than the book and that feels a bit like sacrilege to say out loud. You can pick this short film up for less than $8 on Amazon. It would be a crime to miss out at that price. You can get the board book and the movie for a little less than $15.

The Gruffalo - The Extras

Go to for a nice set of online games. There are also 13 free downloadable printables to go along with the story (mixed in with printables for other stories by the same author). These are great activities to do with a young child at home, as a homeschooling literature activity, as a language activity in a speech room, or with an entire class in a school.

The combination of the book, film adaptation, and free online resources is pretty powerful.

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