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The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

Three kids. One story. The Clockwork Three, Matthew J. Kirby’s first book, tells the tale of three kids connected in some way and uniting their stories as one. Like The Golden Compass, their adventurous journey is filled with hardships but also friendships. Like Flipped, each chapter is written with different points of views. Like The Invention of Hugo Cabret, magic is involved leaving readers with curious wonders.

Set in the Victorian period, three characters, Giuseppe, Fredrick, and Hannah, work their way towards their own individual goals with each other’s help. The talented violin player, Giuseppe, earns money by playing on the streets. One day, he finds a green violin and "did not think it would help him escape." He worked for a cruel padrone, Stephano. On the other hand, Fredrick was an orphan. What an amazing apprentice clockmaker he is, but he struggles with the journeyman project. Hannah is a maid at the Gilbert Hotel who is supporting her whole family with the little wage she receives. Her father is suffering from a serious illness. Through coincidental events, they come together and find the true meaning of friendship.
Although the genre and the story would lean towards juvenile readers/early middle school students, the emotions, contents, and chapter to chapter connections, set another level for older readers. I find it hard to categorize this book to a certain audience. However, for most people, not only does the simplicity of the words makes the book much easier to follow and imagine but also allows the readers to feel the tension the author wants.

One part that I personally felt a bit displeased about is the pace of the story. Around the middle of the book, I felt less enthusiastic about reading it. Usually, with lengthy books, the middle and the end are a fast read for me. Why I also thought it was slow was because of the complicated parts of the book, especially understanding how each and every one of the characters is connected. In addition, I felt a few of the parts were predictable and had no action-packed suspense even though the genre is adventure with a bit of fantasy and romance in the fiction.

On the other hand, the main themes in this book were well developed. It was clear that friendship, honesty, integrity, and trust were important throughout the book. “No more lies,” Hannah thought to herself when she realized that she was indeed fooling herself into thinking that she was okay and that everything was okay. Throughout the book, the characters matured and showed a change in their behavior, a good change. What the kids go through at the time seems much more intense and horrifying than the kids today, showing the contrast between the late 1800s and our century, which brings the readers a new view of what the world was like and what the people were like. When teaching a social studies unit on child labor, this book would be a great reference.

Aside from that, the emotions the children in the book went through and felt seemed real and practical. Many can connect their burdens and grieves to them. Overall, I had an enjoyable time reading The Clockwork Three with its fascinating adventure.



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