The Clockwork Three

The clockwork three by Matthew J. Kirby

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

This is a 2012-13 Mark Twain Award Nominee.