The “Gruffalo” Man visits Yarlet School


On Monday 10th June, Yarlet School old boy, Mr. Ben Harris, visited his former school to give some entertaining lessons about “The Gruffalo”, a book which he translated into Latin.

Forms 5-8 had the pleasure of his expert teaching in Latin. He encouraged the pupils to find parts of speech and to translate a number of key lines from his recent translation. He enabled them to do this by finding links with English words they knew and by using their knowledge of the story. It was interesting to discover that in terms of time it took him just a week to translate. He told us that the book is now available in 50 languages and that Latin was the 48th! He explained how Latin above all other languages has influenced English the most.

One of the highlights of his lessons was the recounting of a myth from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to explain why he had given the Gruffalo not just orange eyes but eyes of gleaming red fire (oculi micant igne rutilo). He had borrowed the phrase from the description of a snake in the myth and we all agreed it made it a lot more exciting!

The lesson ended with Ben offering to answer lots of the pupils’ questions and signing a memento picture of the Gruffalo. He was very impressed with the pupils’ interest and said it had been “a tonic to teach them”.

Ben has just finished a translation of “The tiger who came to tea” so we are hoping for a further visit to inspire us yet again.