Educational/therapeutic goals: building the ability to estimate a dangerous situation, when it doesn´t count that we must not make up stories or lie
Recommended age group: 9-15 years
Primary target group: for every child, but especially for “good” children who have a strong sense of truthfulness
Secondary target group: parents of children who strictly lead their children to truthfulness and do not take into account the social context, or safety of the child in the situation
Style of work: individual, group
Brief content of the story:
The mouse goes through the “deep dark forest” and meets animals on the way: a fox, an owl, and a snake. All these animals want to eat the mouse, so they lure her closer to them, into their hole. However, the mouse is smart, she estimates the situation. She knows that she can easily become a prey, so she makes up a story where she is going to the Gruffalo’s for lunch. Gruffalo is a huge monster, it has crooked claws, spines on its back, a black tongue, terrible tusks. And it likes to eat fox on a spit, owl ice cream, or fried snake. The animals always get scared and leave the little mouse alone.
However, the author created a funny twist in the story. As the mouse travels further through the dark forest, she meets the Gruffalo. The monster will be very pleased because the mouse is his favorite food. But the wise mouse keeps her balance and introduces herself as the most terrible animal in the whole wood. If the Gruffalo doesn’t believe her, mouse can easily show it to him. Mouse invites Gruffalo to visit the animals in the forest: a fox, an owl and a snake. What do you think? Were animals afraid of the mouse accompanied by the Gruffalo?
Description of the possibilities of professional pedagogical/therapeutic work:
We suppose that mouse has to pass through a dark dense forest inevitably, or she finds herself there by an accident. Maybe mouse acts so judiciously because she has excellent judgment or enough experience, because she has already gone through the dark woods in the past. Therefore, mortal danger does not frighten her, neither paralyze her, but mouse shows us that she can solve this problem intelligently.
The story offers us an exemplary situation, when someone is in great danger, and in order to get out of it, she must lies and invents. Although we advise children that they must always tell the truth, but we learn from this story that the truth is not always beneficial for us. And if it is to save our lives, it is even necessary to lie and make things up.
However, the correct estimation of the “mortal danger” is equally important. Sometimes children lie because they feel a real fear of the parent’s anger, etc. The Gruffalo gives us reasons to talk to children about situations that are actually dangerous and that are “just” uncomfortable. We can give to child several examples of situations when it is usually necessary and “life-saving” to tell the truth, and when it is the other way around.
We can try to use the motif of the story as part of the guided imagination. Its main theme is entering a dark forest and meeting its inhabitant(s). But it is extremely important to consistently lead the imagination to success and to let the child master the traps. We can ask questions as:
Who do you meet on the way through the forest in the story?
Is the being telling you something?
What does she/he do?
Could be something done to keep her/him protected, or if necessary, to make her/him disappear?
What helped the mouse the most?
Could you help yourself like she did?
What or who could you help in this situation and how?
Could you handle the situation as well or even better than the mouse in the story? What you can do for yourself to do so?
If you were a mouse’s counselor, what would you advise her to do to be alive and happy?
And so on.
It is important to ask questions in such way we do not deepen the child’s fears of dangerous situation. So, first of all, it is important for us to be sure that the child recognize a dangerous situation (child must comprehend what the creature says and what it specifically does). The child can be led to the possible situations (consequential thinking) and can look for alternative solutions – not just for an escape (alternative thinking) according to Spivack and Shure, 1975 (in Diešková, 2005, p. 47).
For this purpose, it is appropriate to let the child draw the images after this creative imagination she/he just experienced and only then talk to her/him about images. Imaginations with children must always be conducted carefully and at the end help the child to return from a danger to the safe place, where she/he is satisfied and can speak (does not remain silent).
Dramatic moments can occur in the imagination of both, children and adults, and sensitive, disturbed contents can emerge from the subconscious, so this method belongs to the hands of an experienced psychotherapist.
Used literary sources:
Diešková, Viera. 2005. Základy sociálnej pedagogiky. Bratislava: Občianske združenie Sociálna práca, 2005. 97 s. ISBN 80-89-18508-8
Uhrová, Eva Dorota. 2005. Imaginácia ako zrkadlo. s. 31-33. Nové Zámky: PSYCHOPROF. 143 s. ISBN 978-80-96879-85-4
The card of the recommended book according to the mentioned literary sources was created by:
Čaputová, Barbora, Workplace: Spojená škola internátna, Bratislava, Last updated: 14. január 2023
The recommendation from Slovak to English translated by: Mária Trechová, Workplace: PRO SKIZP – Association for support of Slovak Chamber of Physicists, Laboratory Diagnosticians, Language Speech Therapists and Therapeutic Educators, c. a. Bratislava, Slovakia
Recommended way to cite the card of the story:
Čaputová, Barbora. 2023. Reference of literary piece Grufalo.
In Kotrbová, K. et al: Biblioterapia.sk. Bratislava: PRO SKIZP – Association to support the development of the Slovak Chamber of Clinical Physics, Laboratory Diagnosticians, Language Speech Therapists and Therapeutic Pedagogues, 2023. ISBN 978-80-974667-0-1 Available on: https://www.biblioterapia.sk/en/publikacia/professional-reference-of-the-literary-work-grufalo/
The contribution was created thanks to support from the European Union Erasmus+ program, Key action 2 – Cooperation between organizations and institutions, KA210 – Small partnerships for cooperation in the field of education and training. Project name “Prototype of online teaching aid for bibliotherapy”, project number 2022-1-SK01-KA210-VET-000082483. It represents the opinion of the author and the European Commission is not responsible for any use of the information contained therein.