One’s spiky, hairy and fearsomely aggressive.

The other? Well of course it’s……our beautiful daughter Sophie! However, the two met their match when they encountered one another in a local shopping mall.

A furious battle of wills ensued.

It had all started out so promisingly.

I’d told Sophie two days earlier that she would be meeting the Gruffalo and she got rather excited. After all, she does have all the books and loves flicking through the pages.

I also get the impression that “Gruffalo” is quite a fun word to say, judging by the number of times she rolls the syllables around her mouth and then fires the word at me. She loves it!

So off we went, getting to the shopping centre about an hour before he was due to arrive. Sophie toddled in and up the escalators, all the while happily repeating “Gruffalo” to herself and beaming with enthusiasm.

There were plenty of other children there too. Many had come in Gruffalo outfits, including one boy who was clearly trying to outdo the star of the show with his furry costume.

We joined the ever expanding queue and suddenly, across the way, the Gruffalo arrived! Sophie could barely contain her excitement, shouting “Gruffalo” loudly and itching to get across to him. We had about a million people in front of us so I gave her a snack and we played in the line. All good fun.

Every time we got a new angle on the Gruffalo, who was cheerily posing for photos with other (even keener!) people than us who’d beaten us into the queue, Sophie would grin from ear to ear, repeating her new favourite word and tapping her feet excitedly.

Until we rounded the corner and got ever closer.

Suddenly, the jagged Gruffalo teeth were given full scale. The purple prickles down his back were quite clearly pointed and sharp. His size, taller than Sophie’s Daddy and about twice as wide. The blazing headlight eyes seemed to bore right through her skull as she waited, paralysed with fear, for what was about to happen.

She burrowed her head into me, but it was too late. We were committed. The over-zealous queue guard ushered us forward before officiously cutting off the line after us with the curt comment “The Gruffalo needs a drink.” We would be last.

I handed my phone to the Gruffalo’s minder to take photos and nervously stepped towards him. Long gone were the excited smiles. Instead, shrieks of pure terror ripped through the Lowry as poor Sophie cuddled into me and tried in vein to escape from the admittedly very friendly Gruffalo.

Not for her was he a kind beast who looked out for other creatures. The poor little girl was freaked out and desperate to escape.

The minder snapped a host of photos – about 27! – and all of them show an increasingly distressed toddler burrowing into her Daddy while the bemused Gruffalo looks on! Not exactly the exciting day out we had planned.

In Sophie's defence, he's not exactly a cuddly teddy bear!

In Sophie’s defence, he’s not exactly a cuddly teddy bear!

We hastened to the exit but, of course, the Gruffalo was exiting too (for a drink, remember?!) so we had to follow him down the corridor until we found the safety of a bench! Not even Smoothie Melts could calm her nerves, even though the Gruffalo had disappeared off for his comfort break.

When I heard him coming back, I held Sophie closer and didn’t let her see before we beat a hasty retreat from the Lowry.

I made the call not to go to Storytime with the Gruffalo, due at half past 11!

Safe to say, I feel, that the Gruffalo won this round.

But don’t worry, Sophie will be back!