Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

Posted by Simcha 3:01 PM, under | 4 comments

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.


Despite the fact that I’m quite a few years older than the intended readership for The Clockwork Three I still very much enjoyed this book, which I just finished listening to. The story was exciting, fast paced and imaginative and this audio book kept me wonderfully entertained while I took care of some rather boring work-related tasks.

I quickly came to care about the book’s young protagonists, Giuseppe, Hannah and Frederick although I was skeptical about their unusual maturity level. In particular, I had a hard time believing that Giuseppe was really supposed to be only ten years old considering that he behaves likes someone twice that age. But I don't suppose the readers who this book is intended for would notice or care about this, so I just let it slide.

I actually also let a few other unsatisfying aspects of the book slide, in an attempt to be more accepting of a book that isn't really meant for readers my age. For example, Giuseppe finds a violin which, the story hints, might contain some magic but this idea is never really explored. Several times it is also stated that Giuseppe has a Gift, for something other than playing the violin, but this is never fully explained. While the magical aspects of this story are minimal, those that are included are never clarified, which disappointed me. Though I didn't actually notice this until I finished the book and suddenly realized that quite a bit had been left unexplained

One of my favorite parts of the book was actually at the very end when the author talks about his inspiration for writing
The Clockwork Three, a newspaper article from 1873. This article was about a young boy, Joseph, who was kidnapped from his home in Italy and brought to New York, where he was forced to play music on the street to make money for his master, or "padrone". After years of neglect and abuse Joseph gathered the courage to run away from his padrone and eventually was taken in by a widow who found him starving on the street. Joseph later went to court to testify against his pedrone and media attention was finally brought to the tragic plight of the many children who had been kidnapped from their homes and forced into slavery on the streets of New York. The character of Giuseppe was closely based on Joseph and several events in the story were taken from real events in Joseph’s life. This historical basis for The Clockwork Three gave me an additional appreciation of the story and I'm now curious to learn more about the original Jospeh.

While I’m not sure if most adult readers would be fully satisfied with
The Clockwork Three I do think it’s a fantastic book for children and I look forward to giving it to my own kids to read when they are a bit older.

4 comments:

Sounds good :)
And I know what you mean, some books just have to be read by kids

I always loved it when kids in books were more mature than their age level. It made me feel like I could save the world, too, given a chance. :p But as an adult, I confess it thrills me less.

Which isn't to say I'm not going to read this book. It looks charming!

Interesting. I don't know if I've heard of this book before. It's so hard to tell anymore. ;) But it sounds like a great read. Thanks!

Blodeuedd: I did still enjoy the book though I think I would have appreciated it more when I was younger. I'm also not sure if I would have as much patience for it if I had read it in book format. But you're right, some books are just meant for kids.

Jenny: When I was younger I didn't notice if book characters acted more mature than they should have, probably because I thought I was mature enough to act that way as well. But now I definitely pick up on it and if I read about protagonists that are children I need them to behave in a way that makes sense for their age.

Melissa: I actually think you would probably enjoy this book. You should give it a try some time.

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