Axel Scheffler - The Illustrator Behind The Gruffalo

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Axel Scheffler - The Illustrator Behind The Gruffalo

Axel Scheffler

We shed light on one the UK's favourite children's illustrators and unique Style

Who is Axel Scheffler?

German-born Axel Scheffler began his career in advertising and publishing in the 1980's. After studying briefly at the University of Hamburg, Germany, he dropped out of his History and Art course, instead, pursuing National Service in his home country. 

By 1982, Axel was 25 years old and living in London studying Visual Communications at the Bath Academy of Art in Wiltshire. It was during these years, (1982 - 1984) that he decided he wanted to be a children's illustrator.

Who is Axel Scheffler

   Axel Scheffler

By 1988, his first book - the Piemakers authored by Helen Creswell, was published and over the years, he has honed his unique style of illustrations for many authors throughout Germany, the Netherlands, and in the UK.

The Axel Scheffler Julia Donaldson Partnership

It wasn't until 1991 that his long standing business partnership with Julia Donaldson began. He was recommended for a commission for a picture book adaptation of A Squash and a Squeeze - a musical written by Donaldson, who was songwriting for the BBC at the time.

The Gruffalo is the story of the protagonist Mouse and his misadventures in the dark woods. Axel admits it took him a while to get to a stage where he was happy with the final version of the Gruffalo illustration. The original drawings were a bit too scary, with smaller eyes and larger, sharper teeth.

His later versions made him a bit more bewildered and endearing in his appearance with a more innocent look.

Schefflers earlier version of Gruffalo compared to today's version

   Our Gruffalo soft toys aren't so scary! 

This final version of his character must have worked as children all over the world have found the story so fascinating, since it was published over 20 years ago. The book sales speak for themselves of course, with over 17 million copies sold and translated into 100 languages and counting, there is no denying that this book has been an amazing success story for the creative duo.

The story has not only been adapted into a BAFTA and Oscar-nominated animated short film (by Magic Light Pictures) it has also been developed into Broadway and West end productions. Add to that, the theme park attractions and woodland trails that have been built around the franchise which have proved very popular with families up and down the UK and across the world.


Axel's Creative Genius

Axel lives in Richmond, London with his family. As a patron of the Environment Trust alongside Sir David Attenborough and Helen Creswell, he is said to be a keen cyclist, an advocate for the environment, and admits to not driving a car and using public transport whenever he can.

He regularly attends events to promote the conservation of wildlife and that of the environment.

Other works by Axel Scheffler include the Royal Mail Christmas stamps in 2012

Axel Schefflers Christmas Stamps

   Axels Scheffler's 2012 Christmas Stamps 

The full list of the stories illustrated by Axel Scheffler and written by author Julia Donaldson


Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson Titles

Here is a list of the titles of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler booktitle in chronological order.


  • A Squash and a Squeeze. 1993
  • The Gruffalo. 1999.
  • Monkey Puzzle. 2000.
  • Room on the Broom. 2001.
  • Smartest Giant in Town. 2001.
  • The Snail and the Whale. 2003.
  • The Gruffalo's Child. 2004.
  • Charlie Cook's Favourite Book. 2005.
  • Tiddler. 2007.
  • Stickman. 2008.
  • Superworm. 2009.
  • Tabby McTat. 2009.
  • Zog. 2010.
  • The Highway Rat. 2011.
  • Scarecrow's Wedding. 2014.
  • Zog and the Flying Doctor. 2016.
  • The Ugly Five. 2017.



Bring the Storybooks to Life with Plush Soft Toys

We have a large range of plush products from the franchise which have proven to be very popular among families with young children. Using our soft toys alongside the storybook, adds an extra dimension to the storybooks and help your child to imagine the story in a much more vivid way.


Room on the Broom Soft Toys

From the Witch in the Room on The Broom, to the quick-witted cheeky Mouse from Gruffalo, we are certain that you'll find the soft toy of your choice when you discover our range.

We stock a large range of Julia Donaldson Soft Toys to bring your favourite Julia Donaldson stories to life.


Gruffalo Soft Toys

Will you join the Gruffalo Mouse as he wanders, without a fear, through the deep dark forest, or will you help the animals from the ambush of the Highway Rat when he's busy robbing them of their food, along the trails. Perhaps you will fly with Zog as he graduates from Dragon School to earn his golden star.

Our soft toys are all licensed from Aurora World, hand-finished with exquisite detailing using only the best plush materials available. You can shop with confidence using our Shopify site all from the comfort of your living room. We offer free (UK) and fast delivery all over the world when you spend £25 or more. 

Shop Gruffalo 


Shop Highway Rat



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