Cuckoo! by Fiona Roberton
When I saw this advertised in the “New to Your Library” of the online catalog, I could not resist. For whatever reason, my 10 month old adores the word cuckoo and will giggle and try to repeat it whenever he hears it. Plus, the cover art was cute!
This is a terrible book.
The cuckoo is hatched and speaks a different language from his bird family. This causes him to leave home and seek out others who will understand him. My kid sure as heck doesn’t speak the same language as the rest of us. He communicates in a series of squeaks, squawks and babbles, but there’s no way I’m letting him set out into the world in search of his own people. What kind of message does that send anyway? If you are different from your family, leave them, because you don’t belong.
Anyway, the poor bird goes about, meeting other animals and trying to communicate with them, with no success. He even goes to a school that will teach him to speak sheep. He is a failure at this. Evidently, the only failure because everyone else, ranging from a human to a giraffe are picking up sheep speak at a rapid rate. Depressed (at least I assume he is at this point) and alone he continues until he finally hears a “cuckoo”.
A cuckoo that is (and I’m spoiling the ending for you right here) coming from a TOY bird. A toy bird that dies immediately after the cuckoo locates the source of his own language. Of course, the toy bird belonged to a boy child who loved to repeat the word cuckoo himself, so he is overjoyed to find a real live cuckoo which he will befriend (capture?) in its place.
To sum up what I have learned from this book:
Your family will not accept you if you are different.
Any attempts to reach out to others will also fail.
You will never find someone like yourself, so make do with whoever comes along even if that means being a pet or toy rather than part of a family.
Normally, I wouldn’t be reacting so strongly, but the art is ridiculously cute and the pages of animals trying to speak to each other despite a language barrier are adorable. I even love the little boy who tries so hard to say “cuckoo” because it is exactly what my own little boy does. Which is why it is so much more disappointing that the whole message of the story is awful.
But, my kid loves it. He’ll drag it off the table or shelf and whimper until I start reading. So, for now I’ll keep reading it to him, hopefully he’s too young to absorb the plot, but there is no way this would enter my house on a permanent basis.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – None.
Profanity – None.
Death, Violence and Gore – A toy bird breaks.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – None.