cover image Welcome to Cuckooville

Welcome to Cuckooville

Susan Chandler, illus. by Delphine Durand. Skyhorse/Sky Pony, $16.95 (24p) ISBN 978-1-61608-665-7

The town of Cuckooville has, as one might reasonably expect, a prominent cuckoo clock, but since there’s no cuckoo bird inside, the citizens take turns climbing up to announce the time each hour. No one loves playing cuckoo more than Mrs. Gobbledygook, who has a red beehive hairdo and regularly shouts inexplicable phrases like “Lumpyplums snufflybapz,” confounding her fellow townspeople. Rejected and dejected, Mrs. Gobbledygook gets a chance to shine when a busload of redheaded tourists (who look suspiciously like Mrs. Gobbledy- gook herself) come to town. The townspeople panic—“ ‘Strangers!’ yelped the Baker, lobbing buns in the air. ‘Aliens!’ boomed the Butcher, chucking his chops in a fluster”—but the red-haired heroine is able to communicate with the newcomers just fine. Cuckooville is an odd town (the town’s chaotic reaction to the arrival of tourists makes little sense), and Durand’s (Al Pha’s Bet) cartoons create an appropriate atmosphere of inanity and goofiness amid the frazzled, wide-eyed citizenry. While the jumble of nonsense words make for a fun read-aloud, the point of Chandler’s (What I Do with Vegetable Glue) story remains murky. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)