The latest book by USC Creative Writing program leader Dr Gary Crew has just been published by Ford Street. Arising from the Fairy Tales of Perrault, The Cuckoo is the story of a modern day boy who, although the runt of his family, overcomes all odds to achieve personal fulfilment.
‘There is no doubt at all that Gary’s novels are powerful and compelling but in my opinion it is his own passion for illustrated books that give even more impact to his ‘picture books’. The Cuckoo is somewhat dark – even bleak- but explores themes all too common and pertinent.
Bullying, neglected and abused children, forgiveness, independence and self-belief are among analogies that can be drawn from this text. It has an almost mythical quality to it and is well enhanced by Turvey’s exquisite illustrations which are both detailed and haunting.
Martin is the singular central character. Without a mother, tormented by a overbearing father and two brothers, Martin looks to the forest for solace and the small creatures he befriends become part of his salvation and strength. The ideas of both sacrifice and forgiveness are predominant in Martin’s eventual triumph.
An intriguing and multi-layered book, this is recommended for older children for whom it could be a provocation for many philosophical conversations.’ (By Sue Warren, ‘Just So Stories’. March, 2014.)
(Publisher: Ford St, Melbourne. Illustrator Naomi Turvey)