If you ever find yourself in the deep, dark wood and a mouse offers to play poker with you, I highly recommend that you politely say no and get the hell out of there.
The mouse will take you for all you’ve got. The mouse knows where it’s at. When it comes to poker, knowing the percentages will keep you from losing badly, but it’s knowing how to stone-cold bluff that will let you win big. (Bigly? Is this a thing now?)
The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Alex Scheffler, was first published in 1999. It has spawned a sequel, a movie, and numerous reprints. I’ve read it countless time now with my son and I still don’t hate it, which is how a children’s book earns a five star rating from me as a parent.
Hawkeye is currently obsessed with the Gruffalo, either demanding that we read the book with him, or let him watch the mini movie that so aptly brings the book to life. So he talks about the Gruffalo. A lot.
“Where’d the Gruffalo go?” he asked me this morning, out of the blue. As a parent, you learn quickly to think fast on your feet in these sorts of conversations.
“Oh, he ran away, remember? He was scared.”
“Gruffalo was scared,” he repeated after me. Then after a pause he added “Scared of the mouse!”
“Yes, the Gruffalo was scared of the mouse. The mouse is the scariest creature in the wood, didn’t you know?”
“Gruffalo was scared of the mouse.” He repeated in that knowledgeable toddler-like way.
“Yes,” I confirmed again. Then I decided to get creative. “He was also scared of Hawkeye.”
“OOOOOOOOHHHH!!!” Hawkeye exclaimed, his mouth in the shape of a perfect O. “Oh my goodness!!!!”
“Yeah!” I emphasised. “Hawkeye is even scarier than the mouse, aren’t you?”
Hawkeye shook his head.
“No mommy,” He rolled his eyes at me. “That’s just silly.”
After I finished laughing I mentally toasted to Donaldson and Scheffler, teaching the newest generation of readers to bluff like little brown mice.