Cuckoo: Fiona Roberton (Hodder Children’s Books, 2013)
We’re already fans of Fiona Roberton from the two Spot and Henry books, and Cuckoo just cements this. It’s one of those books that I need to write about to explain why I love it so much, but just take it as read that the children think it’s ace too.
Cuckoo, as most Cuckoos are, is hatched in a nest of other birds. Mum and two siblings get on well but Cuckoo is… different. The differences throughout the book is played out in the sounds that all the creatures make. Cuckoo says “cuckoo”, his family say “too-too weet”. There are many other animal sounds throughout the book, which is great fun for little ones.
Cuckoo tries, he really tries, but they can’t understand each other so he decides to leave. He searches for someone who understands him, but it seems that everyone is speaking a different language. Then he tries to learn their languages, but no matter how hard he tries he still can’t get it.
And this is why I am utterly in love with this book. It’s a book about accepting differences, but I see it from an Asperger’s viewpoint. A life trying to fit in, trying so hard to learn everyone else’s language, when what you really need is to find someone who understands your language and then you can communicate freely.
Cuckoo could easily be a child with autism, struggling to understand the world and not quite fitting in. His story gives hope, there will be someone out there who understands you, even if it takes a while to find them. But also his story shows that we all can try to learn to communicate with each other, it’s not just up to Cuckoo to fit in.
We have the paperback version, which doesn’t have any endpapers but I found this image which I assume is from the hardback endpapers, and this consolidates the idea of everyone trying to learn each other’s ‘language’. I wish it had been included in the paperback.
This is a beautiful book, and even has a cameo from Spot and Henry, and their pet, which is a great ‘in-joke’ for children who have read either of the Spot and Henry books. I adore Cuckoo, it’s told simply and effectively, and is so easy to love on many levels. It ‘talks’ to me in a way that makes me want to share it with the world, but however you read it this is a lovely story, full of great animal sounds to have fun with too!
Disclosure: We received Cuckoo from Hachette Children’s Books for review.