Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart

“Jack et la Mécanique du Coeur” (original title)

Creator: Mathias Malzieu (original novella/composer of all music through his band Dionysos/voice of Jack in the original French tracks)

Media Type: Feature Film, 94 minutes

Audience: Tween to Adult (regardless of what Netflix says).

Note: there isn’t any gore/violence/overt sex that typically warrants a tweens and up suggestion.  And yes, it is a musical, but not a Disney musical with fully orchestrated sing-alongs. Instead this CG film is very surreal and moves very quickly with operatic styled music, which would likely lead it to bore most small children.


On the coldest day in history, on the edge of Edinburgh a young woman is desperate to make it to the midwife in time to give birth to her son. The time in the cold, though, has taken it’s toll and the boy is born with a heart made of ice. The midwife (a doctor/inventor named Madeleine who is rumored to be a witch) quickly replaces this ineffective heart with a cuckoo-clock and tells the baby that there are three rules he must follow to keep his cuckoo-heart running:

  1. Never touch the hands of your heart
  2. Keep your temper under control
  3. Never, ever, fall in love.

Jack lives for ten uneventful years safely cooped up in the home he shares with Madeleine and several of her eccentric friends. For his tenth birthday he begs his adoptive mother to let him visit town, which he has never been allowed to do before. She agrees but implores him to abide by his three rules.

He doesn’t.

Instead he falls in love with a beautiful Spanish girl he hears singing at a fountain and decides he must chase the girl of his dreams all the way across Europe. But as time goes by, he begins to worry. Will she remember him? Will she love him the way he loves her? And if she does, can his fragile heart take it?

The Good:

  • This is an incredible film from a visual standpoint. The graphics are fabulously detailed and keep your attention throughout the film.
  • The steampunk elements are frequent (locomotives with bellows segments and horseless carriages to name a few) and intelligently used.
  • The music is emotionally resonant and unique; a breath of fresh air into the musical genre.

The Bad:

  • Tragically, this film suffers from terrible translation issues. The dialog is rushed and doesn’t allow you any time to reflect on what’s said before three more lines are spoken. The US Netflix version is only available in English, but if you can I suggest watching it in the original French with subtitles.
  • It’s weird.
    • Normally this isn’t a negative, but the surreal nature of the film made it sometimes hard to follow. For instance, Jack the Ripper makes an appearance during a traveling song, and it’s not explained or ever brought up again.


Remember this video I posted a few weeks ago?

It’s the single from the Dionysos album called La Mécanique du Cœur was composed and recorded to accompany the novella which the film is adapted from. The above music video was created by the director of the film and in a similar (though not identical) style.

Learn more about The Novella

Learn more about The Album

Learn more about The Film

Also instead of a trailer, below is a clip from the film. This is where Jack meets Miss Acacia. It gives a great taste for the films music and style. 

et en Français:

Let me know what you think of the movie in the comments or via Twitter @SteamLib.


Welcome to Kurios: Cirque meets Steam!

Official Kurios Promotional Image

The IT Guy and myself we’re lucky enough to get to see Kurios in Chicago last week. For those of you unfamiliar with Cirque du Soleil, the performance group brings together various acrobatic and traditional circus performance acts: contortionists, gymnastic acts, trapeze artists, and more. The acts all tie together following a general story line (for shows like Quidam) or simply all match a costume/inspirational theme (like Ovo). Shows run for about 2 hours (plus an intermission) and have a variety of acts within them. For each show there is always a distinctive selection of acts that match the theme or attitude of the show.

Shows takes place under a ‘traditional’ big top, only better. Cirque tent: large multi-post tent made of bold yellow and blue stripes with a decorative arc entrance

Inside the tent is a full size stage with intensive rigging and (thankfully) blasting A/C. Before you get to the stage, though, you can do a fair amount of shopping for the standard theater swag like tshirts, hoodies, hats, and umbrellas (my personal selection) as well as Circ merch like art books, CDs, and the like. New to me was the photobooth where waiting ticket holders could choose from an array of props for a green-screen photo op. Luckily the ITGuy is a good sport and humored me:

The Librarian and the IT guy in Victorian hats holding fake cameras inside a green-screen hot air balloon picture

Kurios, where “Reality if Relative”, has a very upbeat and excitable attitude. The costumes range from traditional Victorian garb for the balancing gymnasts to colorful poke-a-dotted fish suits for the contortionists. True to the Steampunk aesthetic the main non-gymnastic character, The Man Scientist, was accompanied by large automatons, several phonographs, and cracks of free flowing electricity. The music, played by a live band of a cello, a banjo, a violin, and a single drum and accompanied by a live vocalist, had the feeling of Moulin Rouge: peppy, dance inspiring, and distinctly French.

Acts included:

  • An aerial bicycle
  • Russian Cradle (strong-man throws a very small woman around allowing her to complete trapeze style aerial flips)
  • Contortionists
  • Chair Balance (chairs are stacked higher and higher requiring the performer to balance carefully on at a constantly increasing height)
  • Acro Net (trampoline act with parkour inspired motion)
  • Cirque staple Aerial Straps
  • Rola Bola balancing act on an aviator’s flying machine

See a full list and description (plus costume previews) on the show’s website.

Personally I was most impressed with the Acro Net. It was incredible to see over a dozen performers all working together with perfect timing to jump, spring, and fly across the stage. It was fun to watch, and the performers seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves too. Unlike many Cirque acts which leave you staring in awe at the grace and strength of the performers this was purely entertaining.

So would I suggest Kurios as a Steampunk outing? You bet your brass buttons I do.

While it’s easy to dismiss the show as simply taping into a popular theme, that doesn’t give the choreographers or costumers the credit they deserve. They took core feelings of Steampunk — the appreciation for the self made artist, the imagination, and the re imagining of the turn-of-the-century circus — and turned it into a non-verbal performance piece. That’s no easy feat, and they did it impeccably.

Kurios will be in Chicago through September, then it will continue to travel. Check where it’ll be next on the Cirque ticket website.  Cirque shows travel a lot, and at different times over the years. If you don’t see your city listed, check back regularly OR you can join the Cirque Club and get emails whenever any show is coming to you.

Even if a circus show isn’t your cup of tea, the custom music from the show can serve as amazing artistic inspiration, or to shake up your next Steampunk event playlist. The music is distinctly jazzy and Francophonic making it not only fun to listen to, but wholly engaging and attention grabbing.

Aaaaand we’re back!

Hello Readers!

After an engagement celebration, a 1600 mile move, a new job, and finally finding/unpacking the box with my computer in it I am so glad to say WE’RE BACK! And just in time to start talking about Halloween prep; after all we have less than three months now!
Things you can expect in the next couple of weeks:

Thank you to all those who have kept checking in during the break! Don’t forget to send in comments and ideas to @SteamLib on Twitter and to admin@steampunklibrary.net


PS, here is a little video joy to share with you all

And this, if you haven’t seen it yet

Temporary Pause in Posts

Hello everyone!

Thank you all so much for making this site such a success – it means so much to see how popular my posts have gotten and see the number of Twitter followers growing!

However, there will be a temporary pause (as you may have noticed) in posts while myself and tech-support/now fiance get moved. New job, new city, newly engaged, new adventure! Sadly, though, new posts will be delayed. I’ll return to my two post a month on Monday’s schedule as soon as everything is all settled.

Things to look forward to:

You can always keep up to date on all things steam by following on Twitter (@SteamLib) which will remain unchanged in activity since I can do that all via smartphone data. You can also submit your own posts to submissions@steampunklibrary.net and those can go up as soon as I get them.

Again, sorry for the delay but we’ll be back and better than ever soon!

Consultation prize: a steampunk-esque music video from the French group Dionysos.


Steel & Sky

Author: Ren Cummins
Series: Tales of the Dead Man

Age/Audience: Tweens

Genre/Style: Adventure

Read If You Like: Steampunk that reads like fantasy, Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn


When an airship captain, a blind man, a girl child, and an adorable creature called Trill arrive at Firnis Eld to steal a corpse nothing seems amiss. The arrive in port via the airship Lamprey just in time of the big festival, the perfect distraction. They have tools, and they have a prophecy to guide them, they have a plan. That is until the find out that corpse isn’t dead. Perhaps things will go anything but according to plan.

The world in which Firnis Eld exists is full of steampunk universe, however that universe is not to my personal taste. While the technology is impressive, I found myself remembering all elements of the story except that technology. Each steampunk element or plot point always seems to be paired with (and often over shadowed by) a biological creation or cultural point that make a much bigger impact than the tech in the background. The cultural and biological pieces in Steel & Sky are creative and pleasantly complex, however that’s not what I look for when I read steampunk: I prefer science-fiction to science/fantasy.


Bottom Line:

While perhaps not my personal favorite item promoted on this website, it has inspired me to seek out Mr. Cummins’ other steampunk work, Chronicles of Aesirium, to see if those are written more to my taste. I do suggest this book for tween or HiLo teen readers who might find traditional steampunk in Victorian English too stuffy. It’s also a great suggestion to bring fantasy readers into the genre.


Read about it on Goodreads

Find it on Amazon

Also a huge THANK YOU to Mr. Cummins for gifting me a review copy of the book. I enjoyed it!

Have your own thoughts on the book? Share them in the comments bellow or via Twitter @Steamlib and @rencummins

Frankenstein’s Monster

Creator: Mary Shelley (novel) Written/Produced by Judith B. Shields, Directed by Syd Lance

Media Type: Feature Film, 84 minutes

Audience: Family Friendly (but use your best judgment with extra-small children)

Summary: This micro-budget, independent film adaptation from First Step Cinematics, Frankenstein’s Monster tells the story of The Monster, his creator, and the lives ruined in the name of mad science. Following the original frame narrative the film opens with Dr. Victor Frankenstein being saved at sea. He befriends the vessel’s captain and spins his tale of the creation of the murderous Adam, his science project made from the pieces of the dead and subtle steam-powered mechanics. Unlike the novel the story is told through third-person perspective across a single time-line and allows for insight and conversation with non-primary characters. These characters desperately try to help Victor maintain his sanity, but how can a man keep his wits with a monster on the loose and no one to stop it but himself? This adaptation is the most true to the source material I’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t mean it is without differences — most noticeably the inclusion of dream sequences and the removal of portions of Adam’s story.

The overall feeling is more like a play being recorded than it is a feature film, which helps keep its novel like feeling since the focus is on the characters and their dialog, not flashy creation scenes and gory monsters. One major flaw of the film, though, is the delivery of that dialog. All the dialog is in early 19th century English, not modern English and unfortunately the actors fell victim to what many Shakespearean actors do: the dialog felt memorized instead of free-flowing and emotionally driven. At two instances the speech pattern felt so odd I half expected them to break out into song. However the music is so well put together you don’t lose the emotion of the moment even when the language delivery is off.

Bottom Line:  It may not win any Oscars, but I highly suggest it for classrooms and libraries that want a visual companion for the novel. It will likely keep younger viewers’ attention better than a recorded play thanks to it’s score and sweeping artistic landscape shots.

Read More: First Step Cinematics 

Watch It via Amazon Streaming

Buy It on DVD

Watch the Trailer:

Also a huge THANK YOU to Producer Ms. Shields for reaching out to the Library and submitting the film for review. I really enjoyed it and hope to see more from you in the future!

Thoughts or comments on the movie? Comment bellow or send your reviews to submissions@steampunklibrary.net

Holiday Break

Happy Holidays readers, bloggers, and librarians! Please excuse the lack of posts this month, holiday travel and family time has taken me away from the site temporarily. New reviews will be coming in the New Year!

In the interim, you can still send in your reviews, recommendations, photos, and more to submissions@steampunklibrary.net and follow updates (including last minute gift ideas) via Twitter @SteamLib.

Enjoy your winter celebrations everyone!


Need something to break-up the Twelve Days of Christmas? My suggestion is modern classical string sounds with pop-catchiness. Can’t be done? It can! This mix of modern and classical is perfect for setting the holiday feel without having to hear “Santa Baby” ever again. Contemporary chamber music is also the perfect soundtrack for your next Steampunk tea date or for your book clubs post-meeting-mingle-music.

Vitamin String Quartet, Dallas String Quartet, Apocalyptica, and 2Cellos all do classical style covers of everything from Lady Gaga to Kansas to Metalica. Their music is available via YouTube, Pandora, and iTunes. For a great Holiday mix you don’t have to monitor hook Pandora up to some speakers and add a mix of these classic-covers into an incredible, crowd-pleasing channel.

Interview with Photographer Evan Butterfield

A little Christmas treat! Evan Butterfield, who was a featured artist here in the summer, has a new interview out with fellow Steampunk site Airship Ambassador (airshipambassador.wordpress.com). Give it a read, and don’t forget to send in your reviews, comments, site shares, and art with us at submissions@steampunklibrary.net or via Twitter @SteamLib.

Airship Ambassador

This week we are talking with photographer Evan Butterfield, creator of Gentlemen of Steampunk.

Airship Ambassador: Hi Evan, thanks for joining us!

Evan Butterfield: It’s a pleasure.


AA: What is Gentlemen of Steampunk about?

EB: Well, “about” could get a little complicated, because it’s not a story with a plotline, but let’s give it a try. I’ll do a short answer and a long one, and you can sort it out.

The short answer is that it’s a collection of photos of attractive, athletic men wearing Steampunk clothing, who seem to have forgotten to put on their shirts.

The long answer is a little more complicated. It’s about a few things. The first is part of my ongoing world-building effort. I have this Steampunk world in my head that is a little bit unpleasant in some ways, and a little bit better than ours in others, and in…

View original post 872 more words


Official (and surprisingly inspirational) NANOWRIMO icon
Official (and surprisingly inspirational) NANOWRIMO icon

Have you been/are you planning on participating in the National Novel Writing Month (known to most folks as NANOWRIMO) challenge? We wanna hear about it! Email documents, comments, and links to submissions[at]steampunklibrary[dot]net.

Share your vlog updates; share your stories; share your favorite author podcast about tips for writing. If you need inspiration, you’re not alone, so send us your favorite steampunk story, website, or artwork and we’ll post it here and via the Steampunk Library Project Twitter page (@SteamLib) to help inspire your fellow participants.

Is your library (or school, or book group, or even just you and your friends) hosting a NANOWRIMO event? Check out this nifty idea for creating novel finishing kits.

Wanna learn more about NANOWRIMO and how to get involved? Visit the official website for all the details.

Good luck to all participants in the 2014 challenge!

Steam Themed Halloween pt2

Who can live with just one Halloween post? In honor of the best (if not best, at least most colorful) holiday here are more ideas for brining steam into your Halloween plans and a review of the Gail Carriger short story The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (part of the Parasol Protectorate series).

Don’t forget to share your own Halloween costumes and concepts at submissions@steampunklibrary.net and via Twitter @SteamLib.

Music playlists are a staple of every party no matter where it’s hosted. While the classics like “Ghostbusters” and “Werewolves of London” will always hold a place in our hearts it never hurts to add some new pieces into the mix. I put together a small list highlighting some of my favorites from steampunk bands and pop-musicians:

Other suggestions include Abney Park, The Clockwork Dolls, Professor Elemental, and Jonathan Coulton.

Is your library in an area that hosts a large cosplay community?

Image: the librarian as a steampunk gender-bent Sherlock Holmes
Your Librarian as Sherlock Holmes circa 2012

Invite local groups to come and show off their costumes on Halloween and maybe do a Q&A on costume creation. If you’re lucky enough to live near a convention (you can check the Airship Ambassador Convention Listing ). You also might be able to find local artisans/crafts people who would be interesting in coming with some of their steampunk works (tiny hats, gloves, jewelry) to display and sell last-minute costume pieces.

Who doesn’t love coloring?

Image of my personal copy of Brian Kessinger's Coloring With Your Octopus
The best birthday present from The Boyfriend (aka The Project’s IT guy)

Artist Brian Kesinger (author of Walking Your Octopus) has a matching coloring book out now! You can find Coloring With Your Octopus at Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Pages can be distributed throughout October in the Children’s (and Teen, and Adult) sections to bring some steampunk whimsy to your tables. There’s also the Steampunk Coloring and Activity Book, the Creative Haven Steampunk Designs Coloring Book, and the option to make your own coloring pages off of Google or with the help of a crafty coworker. These are great for having out the whole month and at the kid’s table at events.

Last but not least a review of a Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate story, my recommendation for a quick read for book groups or to curl up with while you binge on candy.

Title: The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar: An Alessandro Tarabotti Story
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate side story

Age/Audience: Teen/Adult

Genre/Style: Adventure, Short Story

Read If You Like: The Parasol Protectorate series, mysteries,


Ever wonder where Alexia got her sass? Search no further: in this short story originally published in the “Book of the Dead” anthology edited by Jared Smith we get our first full glimpse of Alexia’s father, the adventuring Alessandro Tarabotti.

When the Templars need a job done then expect it to be done quickly, discretely, and completely. When Mr. Tarabotti arrives in Egypt he knows these expectations and with the assistance of his trusted valet (and to the only level Mr. Tarabotti seems about to attempt, his friend) Mr. Floote he hopes to carry out his mission regarding a man and a mummy. However when an embalmed cat, an old ‘yoo-hoo’-ing acquaintance from England, and a blushing young Leticia Phinkerlington appear, things get unexpectedly complicated.

Bottom Line:

Great for a little read while waiting for trick-or-treaters.

Find It:

The Curious Case on Amazon

The Curious Case on Goodreads