Magic Light Pictures and Macmillan Children’s Books have partnered with the sight loss charity, Guide Dogs to answer the age old question: what does the Gruffalo smell like?
Via this innovative new partnership, characters from the popular children’s book by Julia Donaldson – Mouse, Fox, Owl, Snake, and the Gruffalo – will be brought to life in a series of scents developed to help make reading a story inclusive for the whole family.
Research has found that 80 per cent of how we learn is visual. Guide Dogs has therefore made the move to create a sensory version of the beloved 20-year-old story for the first time, helping children with visual impairment feel more included in the story.
Working in partnership with Macmillan Children’s Books and Magic Light Pictures, the charity has created a scent kit that includes five inhalers, one for each character of The Gruffalo. The quick-witted mouse smells like cupcakes, the fox smells of cut grass, the owl smells like a freshly poured cup of tea, and the snake bring with it a smoky scent.
The Gruffalo himself carries with him a leathery barnyard smell that permeates from the depths of the deep, dark wood.
Kerry Kernan, Guide Dogs Children and Young People National Service Operations Manager, said: “Discovering a child has a vision impairment can be a worrying and confusing time for families, and we have a range of services to help. We hope that the universal appeal of The Gruffalo will help shine a light on how important it is to make things as inclusive as possible. Small adaptations and innovations can really help support families with a vision impaired child.
“Every year we help hundreds of families build their knowledge and confidence, and provide tools that are right for each family’s specific needs – whether that’s through enabling more moments like inclusive reading, or by providing services like habilitation support, education support or grants for parents and children to access new technology.
“We hope that this scent kit encourages more parents across the UK to reach out to us for help – and for more people to recognise and support the work we do with children and young people.”
Each scent in the kit was developed with the input of Guide Dogs service users to ensure they were at the heart of this.
Roger Whalley, Guide Dogs UK service user, said: “The support from Guide Dogs’ Children & Young People services has been life changing for our family. Not only in helping us navigate Josie’s sight loss journey, but also for building her confidence through teaching her life skills and providing opportunities for us to meet other families going through a similar experience.
“The Gruffalo is a much-loved story in our house, and we are thrilled that this scent kit will allow our daughter Josie who has visual impairment and our sighted son Wolf to be able to enjoy their favourite book together – something which I think most families rightly take for granted.”
Alyx Price, Associate Publisher at Macmillan Children’s Books, added: “We are so pleased to be working with Guide Dogs to help more children and families enjoy The Gruffalo. As publishers, we want to find ways for all children to access stories and this is a wonderful new way to enjoy books together.
“By interacting with the smells for these well-known characters, visually impaired children can now experience this favourite picture book and ‘meet’ the characters themselves.”
In addition, Guide Dogs Specialist Education Support Team has developed a bank of resources specifically to support the parents of children with a vision impairment, this includes bringing books to life using touch and sound.