The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
Mathias Malzieu and Sarah Ardizzone
Knopf, Mar 2 2010, $22.95
In 1874 in Edinburgh, newborn Jack is near death from a frozen heart when his teenage mother abandons him. Midwife Dr. Madeleine attaches a cuckoo clock to his heart to get it started. Her desperate effort saves Jack’s life and she raises him as her son while tending to the needs of her prostitute clients.
However as he grows up, Madeleine constantly reminds him to never fall in love as his heart will fail him. When Jack sees Miss Acacia, a street singer who is as tiny as he is, he falls in love. This stimulates his heart to a point where if it does not ease off it will kill him. At school, Joe warns Jack to back away from Miss Acacia as she is his. They brawl until Joe loses an eye forcing Jack to flee to Paris. There he meets magician-clockmaker Georges Melies who tells him to ignore his man-made heart-clock and use his God-made heart to find his Miss Acacia.
With a nod to Oz, The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is a wonderful whimsical historical fantasy with an underlying message of a person must follow their heart which leads to the road to happiness. The story line is fast-paced though a late spin involving the return of Joe detracts from the lyrical romantic tale. Still fans will enjoy this fine fantasy as Mathias Malzieu and Sarah Ardizzone provide a warm story of love.