Perhaps living in Japan means I’m a little off the beaten path when it comes to popular children’s literature in English. The Gruffalo was first released in 2009 and came to our house early this year. It’s a well illustrated book with smooth rhyming prose and a nice twist at the end. Even after 6 months of using this story at bedtime I still enjoy reading this to my daughter.
The story begins: “A mouse took a stroll through the deep, dark wood. A fox saw the mouse, and the mouse looked good!” . If English is your native language, chances are that you will read this using the most common rhythmical meter in the English language, the Iambic Pentameter(technically speaking it’s not a pentameter, but the rhythm is the same). This is the rhythmical basis for most of our nursery rhymes in English and so early exposure is something that will benefit the child when they start to read more by themselves. Why? Because to read it any other way sounds strained and even unnatural.
The story uses many adjectives that we might not use in our everyday home-lives. The setting is fairly easy to understand and the pattern of events is repetitive, making it accessible for even younger children. The twist in the plot comes when the monster the mouse has been creating (the gruffalo) to scare the animals who want to eat him turns out to be real. The second twist comes when the mouse even manages to outwit that unforseen turn of events. Listen to the story being read here, and visit the Gruffalo homepage for more Gruffalo related info.
According to the Wikipedia article on the book, you can visit a Gruffalo nature trail and buy a Gruffalo themed Trunki, watch the Gruffalo movie and see the Gruffalo play. For the time being however, I am content to make this part of the regular bedtime reads.