Thursday, 10 January 2019

Celebrating another important book birthday with the 20th Anniversary Edition of "The Gruffalo" by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books)

The Gruffalo? The Gruffalo? It's 20 years old, don't you know!

Wow, is it really 20 years since Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's gigantic behemoth of a book redefined our expectations of what a humble children's picture book could turn into. The book sold by the bucketload, has been translated into many, many languages across the world, spawned a hugely successful animated film as well as a colossal tidal wave of book-related merchandise.

And it all began 20 years ago with a collaboration that has stood the test of time. Julia Donaldson's pitch-perfect rhymes and singsong story complimented perfectly by Axel Scheffler's bold bright and colourful artwork has ensured this mighty book's success for the last two decades.

It's a book that was one of the first titles we loaned from the library, before I finally relented and bought copies of "The Gruffalo" and "The Gruffalo Child" for C, just so we had our own copies to hand.

We've read it again and again, though in later years C hasn't demanded it as much. Perhaps there's room in the market for a Gruffalo middle grade book or two?

It's the story of a humble but extremely clever mouse, who uses his brains rather than his meagre brawn to successfully trick his way out of being eaten by various forest dwellers such as a fox, an owl and a snake.

Added fun with the anniversary edition as the cover slip folds out into a cardboard play scene. How awesome!

The looming threat of the mythical Gruffalo is enough to see off his attackers - until the delightful twist in the story that turns things completely upside down as The Gruffalo turns out to be very real, very big but thankfully pretty benign.

Kids love this book, parents love this book, and I'm pretty sure the publishers love its mighty sales too! One of the most important and influential picture books ever written, arguably and the 20th Anniversary Edition (with its fantastic cardboard play scene and new process drawings) is an absolute must.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A gigantic steamroller of a book that helped define what we've come to expect from modern picture books with a fantastically clever story, brilliant illustrations, perfect rhymes and a cast of awesome characters.

"The Gruffalo" (20th Anniversary Edition) is available today, published by Macmillan Children's Books (kindly supplied for review).