With The Gruffalo’s Child, Julia Donaldson proved herself more than capable of following up what had quickly become a beloved children’s classic with a sequel of similar quality – and fans will be relieved to hear that What the Ladybird Heard Next pulls off the same trick, with an equally popular title, just as effectively. The crafty, if gullible, robbers Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len have served their time for attempted theft of a bovine, and are back in the farmyard, this time with their sights set on the fat, red hen and her delicious eggs. And once again, it’s the tiny ladybird who manages to foil their dastardly plans, making her wise voice heard above the hubbub of her fellow creatures and getting them all to cooperate.
It won’t matter how many times your charges demand that you read this rollicking tale to them, because articulating Donaldson’s peerless rhyming narratives is always a thoroughly pleasurable experience. Lydia Monks’ illustrations are as delightful as ever, too – cheeky and colourful, with touches of glittery texture for curious little fingers to explore.