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The Clockwork Three by [Matthew J. Kirby]
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The Clockwork Three Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Length: 404 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Age Level: 8 - 12
Grade Level: 3 - 7

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Editorial Reviews

From 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, MOα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In his ambitious novel, Kirby weaves together a good amount of reliably alluring elements. Initially distinct plotlines follow three children in an unspecified Victorian-era-ish American city: Giuseppe plays the fiddle on street corners for spare change, hoping to have enough left over after paying his wicked padrone for a ticket back to Italy; Hannah works as a hotel maid where she learns of a hidden treasure that may save her ailing father; and Frederick, an apprentice clockmaker, figures that the automaton he is crafting in secret will allow him to become a journeyman. The trio of strands coheres nicely as Kirby twists wisps of mysticism into the clockwork elements, clear-eyed environmentalism into the dour urban grittiness, and a timeless sense of family and friendship into the bold, can-do adventuring. Though he sometimes spells things out a little too bluntly and can’t escape a bit of contrivance to wrap everything up in the end, this remains a strong debut effort with memorable characters, hearty action, and palpable atmospherics. Grades 5-8. --Ian Chipman

Product Details

  • File Size: 1065 KB
  • Print Length: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (February 1, 2012)
  • Publication Date: February 1, 2012
  • Sold by: Scholastic Trade Publisher
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006WTYA90
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,854 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cathe VINE VOICE on October 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Three kids with separate lives--a hotel maid, an orphaned clockmaker's apprentice, and a street musician--all with desperate troubles come together in this riveting story. This book has everything: wonderful characters, an engrossing plot, lots of suspense, and even some moments that made me tear up. I literally could not stop reading it. I cannot wait to recommend this to my upper grade elementary school students.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Clockwork Three is the first fantasy novel by Matthew J. Kirby. One of the unique part about how the novel came to be written centers upon a historic newspaper article from 1873 that involved a child street performer by the name of Joseph and the complex ramifications that occurred during the period that concerned child labor laws. Kirby recreates Joseph's as well as any other child's story at the time of the turn of the century as seen through the eyes of the three main characters, Guiseppe who is the street performer who eloquently plays his green violin, Frederick is an apprentice clockmaker under the tutelage of Master Branch, and Hannah a maid at the grand Gilbert Hotel.

The strength of the novel is attributed to the three characters and the relationships that are established within a cosmopolitan landscape of New York along with other children that the three encounter and befriend. As one reads each passage of the book, Kirby does a good job of showing the independent minds that these band of youthful individuals exhibited with very little mention of parental guidance but rather reliance on each other to arduously survive as working-class children who helped to support themselves and their families. With each of the character's stories intertwined within the novel, one thing breathes through, these individuals were children despite having to work from morning until night and possibly never had the opportunity to go to school, they too still possessed child-like qualities of innocence, such as Hannah's story. But it is the chance encounters that are surprising, and by he end of the book all come together.
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Format: Hardcover
Every boy or girl, no matter how old, should read this book. 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.
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A Kid's Review on October 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I could not put this book down! I bought it for my class of sixth graders to read, but decided to read it first. Mr. Kirby has written an excellent first book. I could picture the story coming alive as each character struggled with the realities of life during a period of time when many children had to work instead of going to school. Kirby does an amazing job introducing us to each character and then weaving their lives together. I read this book in one sitting because I want to know how each character's part of the puzzle ended. I sure hope this is not the only book we read from Matthew Kirby! He does a great job bringing characters to life! I can't wait to pass this book along to my students.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have to admit that while I'm not in the target age group for this book (7-10 years old), that doesn't mean that such books can't be enjoyed by adults or that the story can't touch on mature subjects. Luckily for all age groups involved, this book manages to do both.

The story follows three very different children, all of whom find that their destinies are intertwined together. One of them is Hannah, a young girl who has been forced to give up her schooling in order to work at a local hotel because her father has fallen horribly ill. Another is Giuseppe, forced to work the streets playing his violin for a cruel padrone after having been kidnapped & sold by an equally cruel uncle. Finally there's Frederick, an orphan saved from the orphanage by a clockmaker after showing a talent for gears. As the story unfolds, each will find themselves caught up in things beyond their control, whether it is a green violin with a heavenly sound, a mysterious treasure that's been hidden by an eccentric man, or a clockwork head with the ability to speak & think. One thing is for certain- in order to get through all of this they'll need to learn to trust each other.

This was a pretty decent story & Kirby has a very real flair for storytelling. While the story was somewhat slow to kick off, I did manage to get a good feel for the characters & after a while I did grow to care about what happens to them. The descriptions in the book are some of the best parts, with the depiction of an America in the late 1800s that doesn't pull any punches & I admire Kirby for that. He strives very hard to show an existence where schooling was often cast aside for work as well as one where orphanages put children to work in looms that could cost them their lives or cripple them.
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