A sterile, stilted, flavorless tale, purporting to tell how the once-colorful cuckoo's feathers turned gray, how she lost her singing voice, and why the other birds now raise her children for her. The changes occur in a fire on the morning that the birds are to help Choc, the beloved god of rain and harvest, by gathering all the seeds before Choc's ""bitterest enemy"" the fire god comes at noon to burn the old plants. But the fire god tricks them all by coming before sunrise, the birds are alerted by the ""wise old owl"" (""To the fields! To the fields! We must save the seeds!""), and the formerly ridiculed cuckoo is the only one to brave the burning fields and carry the seeds to safety. Thollander's lifeless illustrations are no less so for their gaudy color, and the side-by-side dual language presentation merely doubles the dissatisfaction.