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The Gruffalo authors return with message of acceptance for children of all ages

kids' book of the week

The well-loved and by now well-oiled writing-drawing duo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler have never shied away from capturing repugnant beasts - The Gruffalo is, after all, their most famous and successful collaboration - but what makes their latest book unique is that it features real-life creatures.

Launched in partnership with wildlife charity Tusk, The Ugly Five celebrates those less popular African animals: the wildebeest, warthog, marabou stork, spotted hyena and lappet-faced vulture.

On a book tour in South Africa, Donaldson (above) was taken on safari and introduced to the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant), but found herself more intrigued by the Ugly Five, and so here they are in all their wrinkled, spindly, stinky, blood-flecked glory.

Through Donaldson's familiarly cunning rhymes, the reader is encouraged to sing the song of each animal, as they form a pack of ugly outcasts. But their babies have a different opinion and accept them just the way they are.

Which is exactly the message Donaldson and Scheffler are giving here.

Not as memorable as The Gruffalo, but still fun.

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