Martin, the runt of the family, is unloved and ridiculed by his father and brothers because of his size. Hismother left them long ago leaving his father bitter and filled with spite. Martin escapes into the forest where the birds he loves - especially the cuckoo, abide. Comforted only by the ‘company of wild creatures’, he longs to be like an eagle, free, strong and confident.
It is after the bushfires. No prey is available for the eagles to feed their young. Everything changes. On a day when the two brothers are sunning their god-like bodies and the eagles are searching, the two glorious shapes become food for the eaglets.
Desolate, filled with grief, and longing for death, Father wishes Martin in his older sons’ place.
Hungry, alone, and wandering, the boy discovers the feathers and carcass of an eaglet and decides that to survive, any measure is acceptable. Using sap from a tree, Martin the unloved, becomes a cuckoo, and in the eagle’s nest receives sustenance. He thrives to grow into the eagle he’s longed to be.
Dark and full of symbolism, with underlying meaning running through mesmerising text, The Cuckoo is about betrayal in various forms, and how the justice of the natural world brings things full circle.
The gifted Gary Crew has created another masterpiece with his insightful and deeply moving word images. Perfectly translated by newcomer Naomi Turvey, the intriguing cover art summons questions before the book is opened.
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
Title: The Cuckoo
Author: Gary Crew
Illustrator: Naomi Turvey
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing $29.95 RRP
Publication Date: April 2014
Type: Illustrated Story Book