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The Grotlyn

The Grotlyn
Benji Davies
Age 5-7

Since hearing an organ tune Rubi has a strange rhyme in her head about a Grotlyn visiting houses at night. Soon she and others in the town report hearing strange noises, sightings, objects disappearing. Rumours about a Grotlyn are spreading. But in the words of the story ‘..don’t be afraid to sleep – to dream! For things are not quite what they seem.’ A mysterious rhyming picture book to cuddle up and share, with just the right amount of spookiness, wonderfully rich illustrations and a surprise ending.


Share the story

Before starting to read the story:

Spend time talking together about the double page spread at the beginning of the book. What can you see in the picture?

Think together about the title and the possible meaning of introductory line ‘I know when the Grotlyn’s been slipping through your house unseen’

Read aloud
Read the story aloud, making sure you are cuddled up close!  Pause to talk about the pictures and what is happening. When you finish reading, look back at the illustrations for clues about what the Grotlyn really is.  It might be fun to read the story in a whisper or read it in the dark using a torch to shine on the pages.

Talk about the story

Talk about the line ‘But what at first we think to be the eye does blindly make us see’

Look at the page of things the Grotlyn stole, were these random or stolen for a reason?

Talk about the final pictures – how are the organ grinder and the monkey feeling?

Watch a trailer

Harper Collins Children’s Book

Elena tells us about sharing The Grotlyn with her daughter Leila. She said the detailed illustrations in led to lots of talk, speculation and interest in finding out more.

‘Leila spent time looking at the pictures in the book even before we read the story together.

We watched the clip of the organ grinder on the activity page. This raised lots of questions and comments.

Leila noticed the organ grinder in the clip did not have a monkey. ‘Maybe it’s not kind? The monkey must miss his family because he should be in the jungle’ 

Looking at other pictures of organ grinders online, she noticed that all the monkeys wore ‘funny’ hats. She then looked back at the illustration in the book and noticed the monkey was holding his hat and guessed this must be to collect money from people. She noticed the monkey was chained to the old man and thought about why he wanted to escape.

Leila was super keen to write a postcard from the monkey to the organ grinder (who she named Benji Davies!). We looked at some postcards together and thought about where the monkey might have gone; ‘I think he has gone back to the jungle and the organ grinder is sad but also angry because who will help him now?’ 

We then spent some time looking at all the things the grotlyn had stolen and how the monkey had used them to escape. Leila looked really hard and spotted the bike wheel in the hot air balloon. This led to a conversation about hot air balloons and how they work. When we go to the library, we will try to find some information about them. There were so many things to notice in the book and it really encouraged us to look closer at the images, make connections, look things up that we didn't fully understand. 

All in all Leila really enjoyed this book and I often found her reading it on her own and then she would often comment on something we had not noticed before.’

Things to make and do

Play the story
Together you could pretend to be some of the people who saw the Grotlyn talking about what they saw or heard using words from the story or making up some of your own.

Children could pretend to be a Grotlyn ( or monkey!) creeping through a house and stealing things for their escape plan.

Create a dark den, for example with a blanket covering a table children can create a camp inside and play with a torch.

Draw an escape plan
Children could imagine they are the monkey and plot their escape, what will they need? What will they build? Draw a diagram like the monkey’s picture and add notes to it.

Be a news reporter
Take turns role playing interviews between a reporter and people in the town about what they saw or heard.

Write a news report
Write a news report about the mysterious Grotlyn.

Write a postcard
Write a postcard from the monkey to the organ grinder explaining why he wanted to escape.

Find out more

Read more books by Benji Davies

Titles include

The Storm Whale

The Storm Whale in Winter

Grandad’s Island

On Sudden Hill with Linda Sarah

Goodnight Already with Jory John

Find out about organ grinders and their monkeys, watch a video: