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The Gruffalo’s Child (2011)

A follow up to the 2009 animated feature and adapted from the childrens' book by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler. The Gruffalo's child explores the deep dark wood in search of the big bad mouse and meets the Snake, Owl and Fox in the process. She eventually finds the mouse, who manages to outwit her like the Gruffalo before!

The Gruffalo’s Child (2011)

Flat Black Tongues

Oh help. Oh no! This is not the Gruffalo.

If you know the book of which this story is the sequel, then you have experienced something special. It has an untrusted narrator nested in another untrusted narrator. The inner con is by a mouse who fools dumb predators with a tale of a fictional creature. The outer con has the noir storyteller change the nature of the world to make this creature real.

The mouse then modifies his original con to escape the new danger. The surrounding execution of the book is good: rhythms and detail in the drawings. But the real power of the thing is the way it takes a Chinese folk tale (similar to the Br‘er Rabbit stories) and adds in this meta-noir, meta-cinematic structure.

So imagine my anticipation on hearing that the same team produced a sequel and that it had been translated into film. Back into film would be my preferred notion.

Well, "The Gruffalo‘s Child" book has none of the magic of the original — none of the teasing of truth that made me want to expose my kids to it.

This story is told without any folds in the narration. There is a nesting in the film version that copies that of the film of the first story: a mother squirrel telling the story of the child, but even that is straight; there is no causal connection between the world of the squirrels and that of the mouse. This only works if you have the original story in your head and consider this a second half-chapter.

The style of the animation is poor. The book‘s text is jaunty and the illustrations support that (without adding to it). The studio who did this apparently had a good procedure for snow, but chose to renter all the creatures as balloons.

Posted in 2014

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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