cover image The Cuckoo Child

The Cuckoo Child

Dick King-Smith, Leslie W. Bowman. Hyperion Books for Children, $13.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-1-56282-350-4

In the tradition of Pretty Polly and Harry's Mad , this newest of King-Smith's barnyard adventures centers around a highly unusual fowl. During a school field trip to Wildlife Park, bird lover Jack Daw ``steals'' an ostrich egg marked for snake food. At home, the boy slips his prize under an unsuspecting goose and , 41 days later , Oliver is hatched. Although the fledgling's odd appearance leads to some confusion for his surrogate parents, he becomes the pride and joy of his goose mother as well as his owner. There are a few close calls when the fast-growing bird nearly squashes his gosling siblings, but the ostrich redeems himself by killing a sly fox. As usual, King-Smith provides a harmonious blend of poignant and rib-tickling scenes, in which human and animal characterizations are crafted with equal skill and originality. Readers who have relished the antics of such memorable stars as Babe the gallant pig and his grandson, Ace, will fall in love with Oliver, the ugly gosling who wins the affection of almost everyone he meets. Ages 7-11. (Mar.)