The Gruffalo

The beloved characters are helping children get their heads around the pandemic. Image: The Gruffalo © Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo and friends resurface to help children process pandemic life

‘Stay in your cave!’ the Gruffalo and his gang urge youngsters through a new series of delightful illustrations.

The Gruffalo

The beloved characters are helping children get their heads around the pandemic. Image: The Gruffalo © Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson

“You’d better be safe, you’d better be smart. Stay on the broom but stay well apart.” This is just one of the lines from the 12 new illustrations The Gruffalo creators Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler have shared to help children process life under social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Gruffalo is a children’s book partnership by writer and playwright Donaldson and illustrator Scheffler. The protagonist of the stories is a mouse who takes a walk in the woods.

The Gruffalo has won sold millions of copies and won prizes for children’s literature. It has been developed into plays and even an Oscar-nominated animated film.

New illustrations show characters coping with pandemic

Donaldson and Scheffler are the creative duo behind beloved characters such as the Gruffalo, Stick Man, Zog, the Highway Rat, the Smeds and the Smoos.

Now they have created 12 fresh illustrations depicting their famous characters adjusting to social distancing and home-schooling, and helping others cope with pandemic life.

In their second reimagining of their characters for the COVID-19 era, the illustrations show the characters practising social distancing, staying indoors and keeping fit.

Each character deals with pandemic in their own way

The charming drawings show the characters dealing with the trials of the pandemic in their own way. For instance, on going out for a walk, there is this sweet line:

“Alright,” said the Gruffalo, bursting with laughter, “you go ahead, and I’ll follow two metres after.”

More help from the Gruffalo and friends

Donaldson and Scheffler first imagined characters in the world of the virus in April 2020, when the British lockdown began. The response was incredible then. Now, nine months later, with Britain back in another strict lockdown, they are doing it again.

“I suddenly thought maybe we should, because we’re in the same situation and we got a good response last time,” Scheffler said in an interview with The Guardian.

“They’re for families. Everyone is endlessly talking about what we need to do, but it gives it a little light-hearted touch. I think that’s something children and adults will enjoy.”

Pair produce another series of delightful illustrations

The Gruffalo
Image: ‘The Gruffalo’ © Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson

Donaldson said it cheered her up when Scheffler suggested they produce another series of COVID-related illustrations. She said the situation felt more difficult this time because people had had a taste of semi-normality and had hoped life was returning to some form of normalcy.

About her new illustrations, Donaldson said:

“A lot of them are about isolating, people complaining – I think it’s quite nice to have characters expressing how you’re feeling. I hope the results will cheer other home-bound people a little bit, too.”

COVID-19 booklet for children

Scheffler has also created a free digital booklet about the Coronavirus that is aimed at children of primary school age. Published by the Nosy Crow, the booklet explains what the virus is, how you catch it and how you can help control it.

It also talks about why some places are closed and what might happen next. Experts in the field of child psychology as well as medicine were among those who gave input.

All the new The Gruffalo illustrations, along with those released in April, are available to the public to download from the official Gruffalo Facebook page.