What the Ladybird Heard Next
Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks
Macmillan Children’s Books
Clothes pegs ready for this fantastically stinky sequel to What the Ladybird Heard and with a sparkly cover too.
When the listening ladybird learns of the mysterious disappearance of red hen’s new laid clutch she realises there’s a case to be solved and off she flies. As the stars begin to twinkle over the farmyard she spies and hears two men – ex cons. Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len – plotting to steal not the eggs this time, but the fat red hen herself.
Back she flies to report to her farmyard pals and a cunning plan is quickly formulated – a plan that perhaps owes something to the Billy Goats Gruff – so that when the thieves seize the hen she sets in motion a chain of events that will supposedly, lead them to an altogether superior egg producer, the super-duper Snuggly Snerd, layer of rugby ball sized eggs.
Off go Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh armed with torch and spade, deep into the big brown heap as per instructions – a very pongy heap I should add – seeking the shy egg layer extraordinaire. (You can almost get a whiff as you turn the pages.)
Just imagine their wrath when they realize they’ve been duped. But their come-uppance is not yet quite complete: that job is left to some other small winged creatures and they’re more than willing to oblige …
After which, it’s peace and harmony once more down on the farm.
‘Trippingly on the tongue’ comes to mind when one reads this rural romp aloud; it’s brilliant fun to do so and listeners equally, will delight in the rhythmic rhyme whether or not they’ve already met the star of the show and farmyard pals in her first adventure.
The humour and pizzazz in Lydia Monks’ illustrations is the perfect accompaniment to the text. The sight of the thieving twosome digging into, and plastered in, that muck is a real hoot; and I love the scene where those buzzing bees see them off.