Prather’s Pick: ‘What the Ladybird Heard Next’ a funny story told in rhyme
Children will love this week’s picture book. It’s a funny story told in rhyme. The collage illustrations are a combination of colored drawings and cut-outs from photographs and designed papers. Everything is brightly colored.
“What the Ladybird Heard Next” was written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Lydia Monks. This book is a follow-up to “What the Ladybird Heard” by the same author and illustrator.
“There once was a ladybird, shy and small.
“She lived on a farm and looked after it all …”
That’s the way the story starts. The first two pages of the book make up the farm scene, with the animals in their own little homes. A duck and her babies, a drake, and some fish are in a small pond. The hog, horse, cow, sheep, goose, dog, and fat red hen have their own houses. The farmer lives in a charming little white house with a wall all around. That’s where the cats live. There is even a hive of bees just outside the house wall. And the ladybird? She just flies around, listening and watching.
The farmer keeps busy cleaning up after the animals, moving the “gunk” to a big pile with his wheelbarrow. The pile figures into the plot as the story unfolds.
The fat red hen lays a lot of specked eggs, but one day, something strange begins to happen. The eggs start to disappear.
Ladybird is there to investigate. She tells the animals that she will “hear what I hear and see what I see.” That’s just what she does, too. It doesn’t take long. That night she notices a big black van. It stops at the farm. Two men get out. They hold a bag and flashlight. The men have been in jail but have gotten out again. Ladybird hears Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len talking about stealing eggs. Then, they decide to steal the fat red hen. That way, they will have lots of eggs to sell to people. They will be rich.
Ladybird flies back to the farm and tells the animals about the bad guys’ plan. The animals respond with a bunch of animal sounds, all in rhyme. Ladybird tells them she has just thought of a “really clever trick.”
Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len snatch up the hen, as planned, but fat red hen suggests they might consider stealing the downy duck instead. She lays bigger eggs. So the two bad guys go for it. However, when they go to steal the duck, she suggests that the goose lays huge eggs that are tasty. Why don’t they snatch her?
These bad guys aren’t very bright. When they try to seize the goose, she hisses and says to steal the great big bird, the super-duper Snuggly Snerd, instead. This comical-looking pink bird resembles a flamingo, except she has stripes on her neck. She lays eggs the size of basketballs.
The Snuggly Snerd lives in the big brown heap of gunk. She’s inside, fast asleep. What ensues is a stinky attempt to tunnel into the gunk pile to find the pink bird.
This is a funny story that has the bad guys running for their lives.
This week’s picture book is published by Henry Holt and Company, 2015. It costs $17.99 in hardcover. You can also find it in the children’s room at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.
When we’re not cooking something on the grill, it’s great to be able to whip up nutritious casseroles for summer dinners. This week’s column features two casserole recipes. I make “Skillet Beef–a-Roni” often. I don’t keep the ingredients for the other casserole on hand so don’t make it as often.