Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (October 1, 2010)
Author's Website: http://matthewjkirby.com/kirbside/
Buy the book: Audio, Hardcover
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.
And Frederick, the talented and intense clockmaker's apprentice, seeks to learn the truth about his mother while trying to forget the nightmares of the orphanage where she left him. He is determined to build an automaton and enter the clockmakers guild -- if only he can create a working head.
Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.
This is one of the BEST book trailers I've ever seen!
This book was sitting on our shelves for months and months. Our copy is an uncorrected advanced reader copy and the cover only shows the clockwork man, without the kids, and it just didn't look that interesting. It was eventually this interview that made us decide to read the book.
We ended up requesting that our library order the audio cd so that we could listen to it together. Luckily our library is AWESOME, and they bought it.
The reader of The Clockwork Three was fantastic! I was really impressed by all of the voices that he created, and even some different accents, with a little Italian thrown in there. There was one part that I thought was especially cool when the Clockwork man spoke. I'm not sure what they did for the voice, but I loved it. The only complaint I have it Fredrick's voice. He was SO whiny that it almost made me not like him, and I feel like if I had read the book, instead of listened, that I wouldn't have felt that way about him. Otherwise, it was fantastic.
The Clockwork Three is a brilliant mix of Steampunk, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Mystery, with a tinge of the paranormal thrown in for good measure. Each chapter alternated between the three main characters, Giuseppe, Hannah, and Fredrick. I loved how you would read about one character, and the problems he/she was dealing with, then in the next chapter, you might catch a glimpse of the character from the chapter before, running down the street, or stopping to ask a question. It was really a fun way to read a story. Eventually, of course, they all meet and become friends.
I was fascinated by this story. You would think, from the cover and the title that the book was mainly about clockworks, but this is far from the case. This story was about these three children having to face problems that no children should have to face. Seeing the way that Giuseppe was abused by his Padrone was heartbreaking, and how Hannah had to take care of her family, even though she was just a girl. To think that this was commonplace in this country is just appalling! At the end of the book, at least on the audio version, the author reads from different articles about the boy that Giuseppe's character was based on. I found this completely fascinating and horrifying!
There was so much going on in this book. So many different storylines happening. In Giuseppe's story, he is trying to escape his Padrone, and after finding a special violin, starts playing for people in the streets and saving money to try to buy a boat ticket back to Italy. He is constantly having to dodge fights, run for his life, and try to appease his brutal master, knowing at any time his life could be over. Hannah works in a hotel, where she meets Madame Pomroy, a Medium, who employs Hannah to be her assistant. But when Hannah's father falls deathly ill, she has to make some hard choices and ends up in a mess so big she thinks she'll never get out of it. And Fredrick is obsessed with building an automaton, and possibly goes too far in trying to reach his goal. When they all meet, things go crazy, but they learn that friendship and love can help them through the hardest times.
I really, really enjoyed this book. I know that it is considered a Middle Grade book, but I would recommend it to all ages!
Make sure you check out my kids, Reagan and Bransen, and their review of this book on Reading Tween!
Parent's note: There is quite a bit of abuse in this book. The Padrone frequently beats Giuseppe, or has other boys do it. There are times that he tries to kill him, and it gets pretty rough (for a Middle Grade book). My kids (8 and 10) weren't upset by it, though it did bother them, but you may want to know about it so you can talk to your kids.