cover image Cuckoo/Cucu: A Mexican Folktale/Un Cuento Folklorico Mexicano

Cuckoo/Cucu: A Mexican Folktale/Un Cuento Folklorico Mexicano

Lois Ehlert. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200274-9

A Mexican folktale about the evolution of a beautiful but vain bird inspires the bold and brilliant cut-paper designs in Ehlert's latest picture book. Gloriously plumed Cuckoo spends her time flitting about and showing off her gorgeous feathers instead of gathering seeds with all the other birds. But in the face of a natural disaster, Cuckoo unselfishly performs a ""hot and scary job"" that saves the season's seeds but changes her appearance forever. As in her Moon Rope/ Un lazo a la luna, Ehlert's easy-to-follow retelling appears simultaneously in Spanish and English on every spread. The bilingual approach to the text, combined with the influence of Mexican arts and crafts on the vibrantly styled artwork, helps bathe the proceedings in atmosphere. Ehlert assembles many of her simple shapes with brass pin-joints, giving the paper creatures a potential for movement that children will enjoy exploring. Other metallic-paper figures suggest Mexican hammered-tin ornaments. Sombreros off to this innovative artist for yet another eye-catching work. Ages 3-8. (Apr.)