Not since The Little Prince fell in love with a rose has a book captured the magic of a world where love longs for what it cannot have, recovers what it has lost, and the unimaginable flutters with luminescent wings out of crystal caves.
Panache, an exuberant road gypsy, is our guide to this world. With a sense of both mystery and wonderment, she introduces us to Benjamin Pencil, The Man With The Glass Heart.
“The first time I saw him, he was standing tall, straight, and handsome beside his wheelbarrow, with its enormous silver-spoked wheels gleaming like wet spider webs in the sun. Inside the wheelbarrow was a cushiony pillow of thick, luxurious blue velvet, and on that pillow, outshining both the silver wheels and the sun, was Benjamin’s glass heart.”
Panache is on her way to the mountains. Benjamin has no use for mountains. But their paths cross, their lives intertwine, and Benjamin follows her up, up, up, to where hills are smothered in poppies and a man can reach out and write his name in the sky.
As they travel, they first encounter the beautiful but predatory Woman with the Breeding, a collector of hearts who tries to add Benjamin’s exquisite heart to her pitiable hoard. Next, they meet the Man who Laughs. Envious and malicious, he lives only to create fear and to kill dreams.
Unpredictably and often, by a stream or in the forest, Panache also bumps into her iconoclastic, unreliable, utterly irresistible father. Papa plays his saxophone with the same wild abandon with which he lives his life, and cautions Panache that if the mountains are in a man, he will go there…and that mountains are in the man with the glass heart.
It is in those mountains that they meet the melodious laughing bird. Melody, with her irresistible song and aquamarine eyes, lures Benjamin to an Arabian Nights world of vast grottos and underground streams where hypnotizing creatures dance, sing, and party late into the night.
At what peril does Benjamin Pencil follow the melodious laughing bird? To what end? Can a real heart be broken? Is a shattered heart the end of all love? Or can it be a new beginning?