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In a village in the Black Forest, a master craftsman, Ula, makes his last and finest clock, so beautifully conceived and executed that its cuckoo comes briefly to life. Erich, a foundling who has been raised by the sanctimonious but niggardly Frau Goddhart, has spent his days blacking boots and being bullied till old Ula contrives to get his help a few hours a day and teach Erich as much as he can--the violin, reading and geography, as well as clock-making. One day, turning down a commission from the local baron (who wants a clock adorned with dead game as a gift for his daughter, Britt), Ula begins his last clock--for himself. Decorated with wild creatures, it conceals a dollhouse-like home for the cuckoo within. Erich is to carve one figure; choosing Brangi, the dog, he creates an image far rougher than his master's, but full of promise. Ula gives his fine tools and violin to Erich and, after a magical hour when the clock's cuckoo sings and flutters about the room, Ula dies. Britt (a good sort) gets the clock after all; escaping the Frau, Erich takes Britt the magical bird on his outward journey to fame and fortune. Elegantly spare plotting and the touches of humor in Stolz's characterizations should make this parable on nurture and the creative spirit a pleasure to any fantasy lover. Johnson's soft, full-page pencil illustrations are worthy of Ula's clock in their intimate, lovingly rendered detail.

Pub Date: March 11th, 1987
ISBN: 0879238194
Page count: 88pp
Publisher: Godine