What The Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks is a fantastic tale of a little spotted ladybird and her farmyard friends. The ladybird never says a word but she watches and listens very carefully. Eventually she breaks her silence to share an ingenious plan to protect the farm’s fine prize cow from a devious plot.
The story carries you beautifully through lilting rhymes. It shows that sometimes sitting back, listening and observing is the best thing to do and that being the smallest doesn’t mean you can’t be the smartest.
The story begins in the farmyard with the opportunity to meet each animal and make lots of noise. Young children love the opportunity to join in with stories and What the Ladybird Heard allows plenty of scope for getting involved with the story.
Despite all the noise the other animals on the farm make, the ladybird says never a word…
But the ladybird saw, and the ladybird heard…
One night the ladybird sees two thieves in a big black van, planning their raid to steal the prize cow.
The ladybird is small enough to flutter down and perch on the thieves’ plan of the farmyard and their intended route to the prize cow.
The little ladybird finds her voice and alerts her friends to the impending danger. She devises a clever plot to foil the robbers and whispers it into each animal’s ear.
I won’t spoil the details of the ladybird’s very clever plan but rest assured that the farmyard animals work together to ensure that the prize cow remains safely on the farm.
Once the farmyard returns to normal the ladybird returns to being her quiet and observant self.
This is a brilliant video of author Julia Donaldson reading the story, which shows how easy it is to get your children involved when you are reading it together.
What the Ladybird Heard is a witty and thoroughly enjoyable story. It introduces the idea that you don’t always have to be loud and noisy to make an impact and that quick and clever thinking can save the day.
Here are some ideas or questions that you might want to use to start a discussion in your family. You know your family and which questions they are ready to tackle now and which can be left for another day:
- Why doesn’t the ladybird say anything at the beginning of the story?
- What sound do you think a ladybird makes?
- Do you think that the ladybird would have found out about the robbers’ plan if she had been making lots of noise?
- Is it a good thing to be quiet?
- Is it possible to be too quiet?
- What would it be like if you were quiet all the time?
- Why does the ladybird decide to speak up?
- Making the wrong noises confuses the robbers and foils their plan, so is being noisy a good thing?
- What would have happened if the ladybird had stayed silent?
- Is it important to speak up?
Crafts and activities for kids
What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks is great fun to read aloud with children and the illustrations are vibrant, tactile and full of texture. The idea of making the ladybird glittery is very clever, as even when the ladybird is very small you can use touch to find the little ladybird if you can’t see her.
For older children I love the idea of using the story as the basis of a trust exercise, getting children to work in pairs, blindfolding one and getting the other to call out instructions to get around a simple obstacle course. This would really test children’s listening skills and teach them the importance of listening carefully, just as the ladybird did.
For younger children there are lots of ways that you can engage further with the story through creative projects.
Take a look at the Pinterest Board full of crafts and activities for kids or take a look at the activities below, to accompany reading the book:
- Read and Create Ladybird Playdough
- Read and Create Salt Dough Ladybirds
- Here Come The Girls Ladybug Letter and Name Recognition
- Here Come The Girls Ladybird Antennae Headband
- The Fairy and the Frog Ladybird Counting Stones
- Being Mrs C Paper Plate Ladybird
- Red Red Art Loo Roll Mini Beasts
- Treading on Lego Stone Ladybirds
- Rainy Day Mum Egg Carton Ladybirds
- Life as We Know It Stone Ladybirds
- Me and My Shadow Cork Mini Beasts
- The Gingerbread House Craft Stick Mini Beasts
- The Fairy and the Frog Cork Printing Mini Beasts
- Pink Oddy Mini Beast Activities
- The Fairy and the Frog Play Dough Mini Beasts
What have you been reading this week?