The Clockwork Three

The Clockwork Three

4.5 66
by Matthew J. Kirby

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An enchanted green violin, an automaton that comes to life, and a hidden treasure. . . . THE CLOCKWORK THREE is a richly woven adventure story that is sure to become a classic!

Three ordinary children are brought together by extraordinary events. . .

Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil

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An enchanted green violin, an automaton that comes to life, and a hidden treasure. . . . THE CLOCKWORK THREE is a richly woven adventure story that is sure to become a classic!

Three ordinary children are brought together by extraordinary events. . .

Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil padrone in the U.S. But when a mysterious green violin enters his life he begins to imagine a life of freedom.

Hannah is a soft-hearted, strong-willed girl from the tenements, who supports her family as a hotel maid when tragedy strikes and her father can no longer work. She learns about a hidden treasure, which she knows will save her family -- if she can find it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this riveting historical fantasy, which plays out in an unnamed American city in the mid-19th century, three children's lives intersect as they seek, individually and together, a treasure that could make their fondest dreams come true. For apprentice clockmaker and orphan Frederick, that means a promotion to journeyman and the identity of his mother. For Hannah, a struggling maid at an elegant hotel, it's a cure for her dying father and enough money to take care of her family. And for street musician Giuseppe, it means freedom from his oppressive master and a way back to his home in Italy. Toss into the mix an exquisite green violin, a headless clockwork man, a woman claiming to speak to the dead, a long-hidden secret room, and an assortment of unscrupulous enemies, and debut novelist Kirby has assembled all the ingredients for a rousing adventure, which he delivers with rich, transporting prose. Mixing fantasy and steampunk elements with subtle urban mythology, Kirby's immersive story can be read as a modern morality play or a satisfying stand-alone tale. Ages 8�14. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“[D]ebut novelist Kirby has assembled all the ingredients for a rousing adventure, which he delivers with rich, transporting prose. Mixing fantasy and steampunk elements with subtle urban mythology, Kirby's immersive story can be read as a modern morality play or a satisfying stand-alone tale.” –PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

“Part mystery, part adventures, part science project, The Clockwork Three is as imaginative as it is fun. Kirby's attention to detail and descriptive powers are fantastic. . . .” –DESERT NEWS

“A strong debut effort with memorable characters, hearty action, and palpable atmospherics.” –BOOKLIST

VOYA - Karen Jensen
In the past, children worked at young ages and were often slaves to masters, although they called them apprentices. Frederick is a clockwork apprentice who is seeking to build an automaton, Guiseppe is a violin player who has a cruel master, and Hannah is a chambermaid at an elegant hotel who is working to keep her impoverished family alive. Throughout the novel these three characters' lives begin to intersect, like the gears on a clock. Each of them has a little bit of magic in their lives: a green violin, a piece of a golem, a magnus head. And each of them is forced to deal with amazing circumstances: Guiseppe's master is trying to kill him, Hannah's father is deathly ill, Frederick makes decisions that put his entire future as a clockmaker at risk. As they race against time to bring the pieces of their puzzles together, they learn about the magic of friendship—and that each of them has the key to helping the other. The Clockwork Three is Matthew Kirby's first fantasy novel, and it is a compelling read. In a historical time reminiscent of Dickens' Oliver Twist, these kids race through city streets and parks and must struggle with adults who are willing to overlook crimes against children. The characters are rich and rewarding; readers will want to read about their lives and will be rooting for a happy ending. This title is recommended for all fantasy readers. Reviewer: Karen Jensen
Children's Literature - Deanna D'Antonio
Echoing the footsteps of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, this debut novel begins where science and magic, fate and ingenuity, love and luck all intersect. Set in a fictional New England port city at the turn of the century, the tale follows the arduous journeys of three children: Giuseppe, a street musician held captive by a bitter and vicious padrone; Frederick, an orphaned clockmaker's apprentice yearning to make journeyman; and Hannah, her family's sole means of financial support following her father's stroke. Through coincidence and circumstance, the fates of the three children become intertwined and they must draw strength, encouragement, and hope from one another in order to rise above their present circumstances and fulfill the destinies they have created for themselves. The novel seems rather firmly based in a gritty reality, until the brief appearance of a clockwork automaton and protector, enlivened by the heart of a golem. The appearance of this creature marks the one magical element of the novel and seems anomalous—a departure from an otherwise realistic tale. Additionally, Hannah's outcome seems somewhat implausible, in that it seems unlikely a mere girl of only twelve or thirteen would be placed in a management position at a grand hotel, regardless of the integrity or resolve she displays. Readers may also be bothered by the kidnapped Pietro's being left behind in America when Giuseppe departs for Europe with Madame Pomeroy and Yakov. These problems with the novel, however, are rather slight. All in all, it is a thoroughly enjoyable tale and an adventure children aged eight and above are very likely to enjoy. Within the classroom, it could serve well as a bridge connecting literature and social studies—chiefly in addressing the issue of the treatment of children (particularly as part of the labor force) throughout different eras. Reviewer: Deanna D'Antonio
School Library Journal
Gr 5�7—Giuseppe is an orphan, living as a violin-playing busker under the thumb of an evil padrone named Stephano. Frederick is apprenticed to Master Branch, a clockmaker, while in secret trying to create a clockwork automaton in the form of a man. Hannah is a maid at a hotel, trying to support her family, and particularly her desperately ill father. Giuseppe finds a green violin that sounds more beautiful than anything he has ever heard, which he hopes will earn him the money for passage back to Italy. Frederick is hoping to pass his exams to become a journeyman, but he can't seem to find a way to make his automaton work just right. Hannah is nearly fired from her position, but then is given a job by the mysterious Mrs. Pomeroy, who is living in the hotel. There is talk of a treasure somewhere in the hotel's hidden passageways that would give Hannah the money she needs to make her father well. As fate (or coincidence) would decree, the paths of these three young people become interconnected. Only together can they find the way to solve their problems. What starts out as a promising retro-style adventure falls apart at the end with too many sequences of the kids in peril and an ill-advised and poorly handled sequence in which Frederick's clockwork man becomes animated. Still, The Clockwork Three shows promise and may be enjoyed by fans of Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic, 2007).—Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO
Kirkus Reviews

Three poor children leading separate lives find friendship and marvel in a late-19th-century alternative-American city. Orphaned Giuseppe was sold from Italy to a brutal, Fagin-like padrone, who runs a ring of buskers. Frederick, also an orphan, is apprenticed to a kindly clockmaker but is haunted by his time in an orphanage. Hannah's father has been felled by a stroke, and it's up to Hannah to support the family. The third-person-limited narrative shifts from child to child, resulting in an Altman-esque opening. Giuseppe finds a magical violin; Frederick toils to build an automaton; Hannah finds a patron at the hotel where she works. Their three paths intersect, and they become friends, each trying to help the others and running afoul of various adversaries in the process. Kirby seems to be drawing on both mysticism and steampunk to drive his story, and neither element really settles into coherence. The kids are likable, but, oddly, they become less interesting once their stories intertwine, and the outcome is too obvious. An interesting concept, but it needed a little more time to come together. (Steampunk. 9-14)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.16(w) x 11.26(h) x 1.40(d)
680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years


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The Clockwork Three 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
wreddyornot More than 1 year ago
I'll try to tell you why. I believe at some time every child, no matter who or where they are, feels at least once and maybe several times like a slave of sorts, even in the best of times and in the most favorable of conditions. I know I did, and most of the people I've talked to enough about it to know, did also. Even though I was raised in pleasant circumstances with everything I needed, I did. Nonetheless, I had red hair and freckles, and my skin burned like the dickens. Ginger hair and abundant freckles that multiplied like crazy when I stayed out too long in the sun didn't appeal to me, not at all. Neither did the painful blisters from my sunburns. And that is putting it mildly. I felt like my light complexion made me a slave to it. I knew that my red hair made me an object of ridicule and bullying, and there were times when I utterly hated it and thought almost no one else, except perhaps another redhead, could ever understand. THE CLOCKWORK THREE is the title of Matthew J. Kirby's novel about three young people that every person can identify with who is in or has experienced similar circumstances of crises, big or small: Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick. It is set on the eastern seaboard in a bustling city of the United States around 1900. Those three young characters provide ample opportunity for every young reader to find a friend to identify with relative to feelings of enslavement to something, whether it's freckles and red hair or something else much more or less serious. Take as a mentor either the orphaned Giuseppe, who must play his violin in the streets for money and turn over all the earnings from doing so to an evil master, or the lovely and tender Hannah, who must work her fingers to the bone with little opportunity or future as a maid in a high-class hotel in order to provide for her impoverished family, or the handsome and strong Frederick, the young apprentice to a clockmaker who can't remember what happened to him earlier in his life so that he lost his mother and ended up in an orphanage. Because, if you do, you'll find more than the magic in Giuseppe's green violin found as flotsam in the bay, or in the automaton Frederick has long dreamed of bringing to life, or in the treasure in the park Hannah hopes to find to deliver her family from poverty and worse. You will find the magic of friendship, of sacrificing yourself for someone else, and of loyalty to both people you love and to principles. This is Matthew's debut novel and what a grand one it is. You will love his tight storylines that will carry you away into the world of the three children; you'll marvel in the way he weaves his prose together so flawlessly, and you'll find satisfaction in the ease with which he employs metaphors and other literary devices. And characters! Oh my, the characters. Awesomeness. Steampunk, fantasy, history, it has it all, subtly. But most of all, it has heart, in abundance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS! This book realy shook me, its different than other books I've read. The Clockwork Three is an amazing story, you realy feel for Giuseppe, Frederick, and Hannah. Its like your watching them go through hardships and troubles, feeling there fear, anger, sharow, hate, joy, and so many more feelings. There adventure is somthing you will stay up nights for ( it it takes you that long) , it left me begging for more and will leave you begging too! If you pick up the book. Will you? Don't miss out on this amazing story of friendish and sharow. Three people's lives start to fit together like clockwork right before your very eyes. Truely amazing! Great job Matthew J. Kirby! - a true fan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book reaaly makes a person wonder. If you had the chance to create something so beautiful and like nothing ever seen before, would you take it ?
Benj-O More than 1 year ago
The Clockwork Three - Matthew J. Kirby ©2010, Scholastic Press, New York Matthew Kirby is a new author (for both me and the reading audience in general). In his day job, he works with children as a school psychologist in Utah. If this debut novel is any indicator, he may be changing his day job soon. "Why?" you ask. I think that the success of this first novel can be attributed to his love for telling stories-according to his bio, he's been doing it since he was a youngster. The city in the story bears a strong resemblance to 19th century New York because of the inspirational story of a boy who almost single-handedly derailed the abusive child-labor practices. Kirby's story focuses on three children who have their own spectacular stories to tell. Giuseppe is a young street musician whose life is changed the moment he fishes a beautiful green violin from the wreckage of a shipwreck in the bay. Hannah, a maid in the grand hotel in the heart of the city, is struggling to be the sole support of her family (a disabled father, his wife who must stay home to care for him, and two younger sisters-twins). She has given up her hopes of education although she continues to read the classics. A strange guest with a Russian protector becomes her friend and provider. And then, there is Frederick, the orphaned apprentice of a humble clockmaker. Frederick is focused on becoming a journeyman so that he can open his own shop. The story brings these three together in the most unlikely of situations. It is filled with action, adventure, and magic. The characters-heroes and villains alike-are compelling and lifelike. But the most exciting part of the book is its destiny to become a classic. Kirby's use of descriptive language and movement provides excellent examples to be used in any literature or creative writing class. He is truly a wordsmith of the highest degree. I have to give him five out of five reading glasses for his first effort, and can't wait to get my hands on Icefall (his second novel due out in October). [Modesty prevents me from begging for a review copy-actually no, Scholastic are you listening?] -Benjamin Potter, September 15, 2011
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very good and interetinb at the sme time. I have read one of the books inn a class ih 4th grade. I would recomend these books! And no this is not like Hugo, well the first one is not... I think Hugo was after this, but anyways the first book of Clockwork is not like Hugo!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All my friends love this book and are always fighting over it at the library! I never read The Clockwork Three before but its sounds interesting
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
When Giuseppe finds the green violin, he doesn't think it will help him escape. He doesn't think anything can help him get away from his ruthless padrone and back to his home and his siblings in Italy--certainly not a violin, even if it is so much finer than the one he usually plays on street corners every day. Frederick doesn't need to escape anything, but he must become self-sufficient--of that he is certain. Being apprenticed to Master Branch is fine for now. But the sooner Frederick can complete his clockwork man, the sooner he can become a journeyman. The sooner that happens the sooner he can have his own shop--his past at the workhouse left far behind. Hannah has already given up so much she scarcely knows what to want. Since her father's stroke she has had to leave school and take work as a maid. Her family is just scraping by on her meager salary. When Hannah hears talk of a secret treasure, she starts to wonder--could it be the way back to her old life? If she can find it can she really solve all of her family's problems? Giuseppe, Frederick and Hannah don't know each other. Under normal circumstances they might never have met. But soon the magic of the green violin and other strange happenings bring these three children into each others lives. Together they might solve all of their problems and make their dreams come true--if they can learn to trust each other and themselves along the way in The Clockwork Three (2010) by Matthew J. Kirby. The Clockwork Three is Kirby's first novel. This book is an interesting blend of realism and fantasy, adventure and steampunk. Kirby weaves the elements together seamlessly creating a city so real it is easy to forget that the backdrop of this story is fictional. The story takes a sudden turn near the middle of the story as some of those fantasy and steampunk elements manifest. They work and they add to the story, but part of the semi-realistic charm of the story is lost in favor of more fantastical elements. Perhaps because this turn appears so late in the story some aspects of the plots resolution felt rushed or abrupt although still satisfying after a fashion. Kirby's writing is particularly excellent at the beginning of the story as he subtly brings the children together in chance encounters until all of their stories overlap. The writing is atmospheric and often quite charming. Possible Pairings: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, Clockwork by Phillip Pullman, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I only gave it a four because I'm only on page 104. I'm not sure how many pages are in it, but I'm not quite halfway. So far i think that the author has done an astounding job of describing the settings of the characters. When he's describing a place, I can see it as if I'm there. The description also makes me feel like I'm at the same place as Frderick, Hannah, or Giuseppe. I highly reccomend this book. If it doesn't sound interesting, I would still read it just for the amazing feel of going back in time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a brilliantly written story. The imagery was quaint and beautiful. I recommend it for any age.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I havent read this yet ,it sounds good. But it also sounds a lot like Hugo.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a really good book. I recomended it to one of my friends and they think its great sofar. You might not understand the begining but it definately gets better. If i could rate this book from 1 to 10 it would be an 11
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like how this book can be thrilling and awesome at the same time. Unexpecting things happen, which can be very surprising.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It is full of adventure and danger at every turn. It is great for kids too. I know not a lot of people are going to read this but I need to share my love for this book.
Bookaholic12 More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for anyone who loves historical fiction or mystery. I found this book extremly enjoyable. I would recomend puchesing this book in hard cover if avalibe. I have a copy and it is a really nice looking book. In all, you can't go wrong with this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was given as a birthday gift to an avid reader, 12 year old boy. He seemed very excited to receive it.
BANGLEDANGLES More than 1 year ago
This book took three stories and entwined them together. The story was fascinating, exciting and a pleasure to read. I would recommend this to any age reader.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Gold Star Award Winner! Desperate to escape from his cruel master and make his way back to his home in Italy, Giuseppe is excited to find a green violin that is like new. Playing it every day in the streets, he is able to make large amounts of money for his escape. Storing it in a crypt of a man by the name of Stroop, he dreams of the day he will be able to buy his passage home. However, his cruel master, Stephano, grows suspicious of Giuseppe and begins watching him like a hawk. Once a great stonemanson, Hannah's father has become an invalid after suffering a bad stroke. Her mother must stay home and care for him as well as the two youngest children. Forced to work in a hotel as a maid, Hannah longs to be able to go back to school and move out of the tenement housing they live in. When her father falls seriously ill from a bedsore, Hannah's desperate attempts to get money for the medicine her father needs all fail. Her only hope is to find the missing treasure of Mr. Stroop, a once wealthy, prominent, living person in society. Apprenticed to a clockmaker, Frederick was lucky enough to escape the orphanage life. Curious to a fault, Frederick seeks unique ways to becoming a journeyman in his field. When he gets the idea to make a clockwork man, he begins saving pieces of scrap metal from around the shop and starts creating them into the form of a man. All he needs is a head. Their lives spun together like clockwork, these three's paths become entwined for better or for worse. Working together to try and meet all three of their goals, they are able to find a way into Mr. Stroop's old hidden room above the hotel, find a clockwork head for Frederick, and help Giuseppe get out from under his oppression. Their plans, however, soon backfire and make matters worse. Now, Giuseppe is on the run for his life from his cruel master, Frederick has mysterious men from the town museum after him for stealing their clockwork head, and Hannah is on the run from the police for theft and burglary from the hotel she was working at. Their only hope is to find the treasure. Will they succeed? An amazing adventure filled with excitement, action, and friendship. The characters are well-developed. The plot is unique, well-done, and does a great job of holding the reader's interest. Those who like fantasy, adventure, and mystery will all enjoy reading THE CLOCKWORK THREE.
Millie_Hennessy More than 1 year ago
This was a fun, engaging read. Hannah, Frederick, and Guiseppe were all realistic, lovable young characters, and I was very interested in the lives they lead. I loved the victorian/steampunk flavor to the setting and it was easy to picture all the details that Kirby mentions. The setting really came to life, as well as all the characters. I will say that I definitely want to know more about Madame Pomeroy, and I think much more could have been said about the clockwork man. I did think that the three children were slow to meet up, but once their paths finally met, the book was even better. I think this is great for younger kids, maybe 10-15, as well as anyone else interested in young adult fiction. And I have to add that the cover art is fantastic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No it is not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think I am the only person in my school who has read this book, and I think it's amazing! I read it last year in 5th grade, so I can't remember all of it, but I love it! All I remember thinking whilst I read this was: who gets Hannah's love, Giuseppe or Frederick, and Why does Giuseppe always have the rottenest luck? I feel like reading it again somehow, but I don't have enough money on my credit card...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. It was thrilling and the friendship and stories between the three friends is amazing. This is definitely not a waste of money. This is a book to read time and time again! Amazing book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the characters was really sad. Overall, it was a good book. Ithad me hooked from page one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is Harry Potter series good.