The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson (words) and Catherine Rayner (illustrations), published by Macmillan Children’s Books

This collaboration between two of the most eminent contributors to the picture book world is a pure delight from start to finish. The combination of Julia Donaldson’s alliteratively amusing and charismatic tale of the unique “Go-Away bird” with Catherine Rayner’s beautiful, colourful and wonderfully characterful illustrations is an absolute treat.

We first meet the “Go-Away bird” sitting primly in her nest and sternly surveying her surroundings. When her isolation is interrupted by the bright green and yellow “Chit-Chat bird”, then the flame-coloured “Peck-Peck bird” and last the tiny blue “Flip-Flap bird”, her response each time to their offer of friendship and fun is simply to squawk: “Go away! Go away! Go away!”.

It is only when the Go-Away bird takes on more than she can handle in the form of the “Get-You bird” with his big threatening beak and his angry eyes that she realises that some support from the other birds would come in useful.

Luckily, the helpful, cheerful yellow “Come-back bird” implores the other birds to return and together in a “noisy mob of fluff and feather” they chase off the big bully. The Go-Away bird is humbled by their efforts, realises she does “want some friends to stay”, smiles brightly and tells them “you can stay, you can stay, you can stay!”.

Not only is this book visually delightful and a captivating tale, it also contains an important message for modern times: Isolation is not as attractive as it first may seem. We’re better off together, where the colour, fun and laughter is – not alone, sqwaking from our lonely branch.