The Clockwork Three.
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The Clockwork Three.

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  3,392 ratings  ·  694 reviews
When orphan Giuseppe finds a green violin washed up in New York docks, he has no idea that it will change his life. The same day, Hannah, a maid at a local hotel gets a strange new mistress. What are Madame X and her mysterious Russian minder running from?
Paperback, 483 pages
Published 2010 by Scholastic
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I’m in a weird position. I’m tired of Steampunk, and yet if I say that word to most kids that walk into my library they’ll give me a blank stare followed by an immediate, “What’s Steampunk?” I’d explain to them that it’s this strange amalgamation of historical fiction plus futuristic gear-based clockwork technology but I know that this would not cause the blank stares to cease. They'd simply grow blanker. I’m tired of Steampunk, you see, but even then I have a confession to make. I’m only really...more
ATOS Book Level: 4.5
Interest Level: Middle Grades (MG 4-8)
AR Points: 15.0
Lexile: 680
Word Count: 100530
The cover flap describes this story as "a dose of fantasy, (and) a hint of magic". My problem with the book, for me, is that it would work better if this was a fantasy. In fantasy there is a suspension of beliefs, a stepping away from what "you know to be true" with/in this world. Giuseppe's fiddle playing has a "hint of magic", why not give it some real magic, or at least let us set aside our p...more
The Rusty Key
Reviewed by Rusty Key Writer: Jordan B. Nielsen

Recommended for: Your guess is as good as mine. It’s far too immature and sentimental for teens, but it’s so dense, and the plot so meandering I can’t imagine younger children staying engaged with it. Let’s say ages 11 to 13.

One Word Summary: Mawkish

I hardly know where to begin. How about with a compliment? Matthew Kirby is a solid constructor of prose, and a very skilled selector of words. His descriptive abilities (though overused…editors, I’m gl...more
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...more
This middle-grade read was given to me by my mom as a senior in college gift. The writing is geared towards middle grade, so no lavish descriptions or large words, but it is just as lyrical as some young adult books. Throughout this book, I was reminded of The Thief Lord with the whimsical characters and action.

This book is more of a suspense book. Nothing huge, but each chapter alternates between the three main characters and the chapters more often than not end in cliffhangers. I had to resist...more
Kayla West
First of all, let me say that this book should have a subtitle: THE GREEN VIOLIN, for it is this very object which brings the three main characters together in the first place. Without that, and some genius musical talent behind it, this story would not need to be told, let alone would it even exist.
Each character introduced to us in this story, Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick, has some sort of background or past haunting them. One was taken from his homeland by his menacing padrone to play for...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Kira M for

Desperate to escape from his cruel master and make his way back to his home in Italy, Giuseppe is excited to find a green violin that is like new. Playing it every day in the streets, he is able to make large amounts of money for his escape. Storing it in a crypt of a man by the name of Stroop, he dreams of the day he will be able to buy his passage home. However, his cruel master, Stephano, grows suspicious of Giuseppe and begins watching him like a hawk.

Why I read this: Steampunk, and a debut author? - I couldn't resist!

Plot: This book follows three young people in 19th century America. The first is a street performer named Giuseppe who dreams of returning to Italy, back to his family. Hannah is a maid trying to help her family while her father hopefully recovers from his illness. The last is Frederick, the apprentice of a clockmaker who is trying to complete his own automaton. All of their lives become intertwined and they end up relying on on...more
Slowest moving book EVER. While this might have been a great book I was very very disappointed in it. I believe this has to do with the fact that the book cover mentions magic and there really isn't much mention of it. Yeah there is a little bit and it's referenced but this book was just overall misleading, infodump heavy and really not what I thought it would be at all.

I do have to say I cannot stand books where all the adults are just incompotent and stupid. I felt there really wasn't one adu...more
Barb Middleton
Reading books can be like "chasing butterflies over hills." So often, I want to capture the beautiful turn of phrases or word combinations like I borrowed the author's "butterfly" simile from this book. For a "steam-driven" person that moves fast, cooks fast, and reads fast, I'm amazed when a writer can slow me down from a boiling to simmering temperature. Believe me, it rarely happens. This book did just that. I was caught up in the beautiful descriptions, setting, characters, and similes. What...more
Mrs. Riding
The Clockwork Three is an incredible story of three young people with the great desire to be free. Giuseppe is a orphan street musician with a master who demands much and gives so little. Longing for his home in Italy, Giuseppe uses his passion to fuel his music. Hannah is a maid of a grand hotel and the sole provider for her family. Wanting to have what is needed for her family, she goes in search for a hidden treasure. Frederick, an apprentice clockmaker, works every moment on a special projec...more
The Clockwork Three is a suspense filled, view-changing tale of a boy named Guiseppe. He is a violinist and is under the control of his padrone named Stephano. Then one day he finds a magical green violin, and it earns him much more money than usual. He decides to earn his way out of he city and go home to Italy. The other two characters Hannah and Frederick also have many questions throughout their life, and as friends they all realize that one friend of theirs has the answer to their question...more
I loved this book! It has actually not been released yet, but because the author is in my ward, I was lucky enough to be able to read the uncorrected proof. This is Matthew's debut novel and I thought it was the perfect blend of fantasy (just a hint), and courage and trust in kids who, unfortunately, are in the midst of experiencing difficult childhoods. There was also some great history included that I previously knew nothing about. I loved that the story was uplifting with the main characters...more
This was written by a new local author, and it is his first book. I was lucky enough to get a pre-copy and I highly recommend it. It is a great story of 3 children who come together and end up forming a friendship that would normally be unlikely. One of the things I liked about it was the story instantly took you away and you were lost in their lives and adventures. I also loved that with it being a YA book that the author didn't let the characters get away with anything morally wrong. What a gr...more
I picked this up at a warehouse sale from Scholastic for my children. I was quite intrigued with the story. This debut novel did well at weaving these three children & their stories together. I didn't feel like I was reading something far beneath my "reading level".
Hannah G.
About: Frederick, a clockmaker's apprentice; Hannah, a young girl working as a hotel maid; and Giuseppe, an orphan boy with an exceptional gift. Although seemingly different from one another, their stories are intertwined--like the turning gears of a clock.

Pros: 1) The plot. It was really spellbinding. Those with interlocking stories are, for me, just brilliant, and this book didn't fail me. 2) The writer's style. The book was written in a way that "shows, not tells" (as my Language Arts teache...more
Full Review @:

Though the book does a fantastic job of blending steampunk, history, mystery, and a bit of fantasy, the strength of this book definitely lies in its characters. Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick are each in their own way deserving of your love and sympathy. Young readers will have no problem finding a friend within the pages to identify with and relate to, especially since each of these three young heroes play an equally important role towards...more
Sarah BT
About the Book: Frederick is an apprentice in a clockwork shop who is secretly working on his own clockwork man in the hopes of making journeyman.

Hannah is a maid working at a hotel trying to raise money for her family and sick father. When she hears of the possibility of a treasure, Hannah decides to seek her fortune.

Giuseppe was kidnapped from his home in Italy and works as a street musician. He dreams of returning home and when he finds a green violin, he wonders if it holds to key to his pa...more
This book follows Giuseppe, a street musician, who is "employed" by his padrone and must bring in enough money through his playing each day, or else.. Frederick a talented apprentice clockmaker rescued from the brutal orphanage/fabric mill, and Hannah who has an invalid father and is working as a maid in a hotel to support her family. Each dreams of a better life. As the book continues their stories intertwine.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I was hooked after the first chapter...more
This is an amazing story which includes adventure/ intrigue/ mystery/ fantasy/history. The setting is a coastal town in early America where immigrants and goods flow back and forth. The first 3 chapters introduce the reader to the main characters individually: Giuseppe (sold by his uncle to an evil padrone, Stephano, who took him to America and used him to make money by playing his violin on the street corners), Frederick (placed in an orphanage by his terminally ill mother at age 5 and now appr...more

I was pleasantly surprise to find how much I enjoyed this book. The story of three children who face hardships that no child should have to endure was, at times, heart breaking, and this was espeically true of Giuseppe's struggle. I don't want to give too much away so make sure you read the synopsis because it provides a great summary.

Each child's POV is presented in alternating chapters, which was a great way to read the story to see how the character's...more
The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby was a genre called "Steampunk." Steampunk is associated with Historical Fiction with Fantasy that has to do with steam power. This book looked like a typical fantasy book, but the author weaves in a story that grips the heart wanting to know what happens next using the characters personal problems.
Giuseppe is a street musician. His money goes to his abusive master, Stephano. Giuseppe acts very mature due to Stephano's abusive beatings. Little does Stepha...more
I really liked this book. It was interesting that there were 3 main characters and each of them was equally important in the story. It shows how you have to trust others in order to save what you love. The book takes place in a bustling city. The setting couldn't have been in Italy because Giuseppe's part in the story is how he tries to escape from Stephano, a cruel orphanage owner, and go back to Italy. Frederick is an apprentice clockmaker whose parents died when he was little. He's an apprent...more
It's sad that there aren't more books like THE CLOCKWORK THREE being published nowadays. It's a fascinating tale that seems like more of a storybook than a 300+ page title that seems to be directly on the line between YA and Middle Grade fiction. As many of you probably did as well, I skipped over this book and it passed me by before I really learned what it was about- and it has everything I've been missing about reading.

I loved the three perspectives. There's something about different characte...more
Matthew Wu
Three children are in desperate need. They have to work to support themselves/family. They steal when they had no choice. They would need to trust and help each other to get what they want. Giuseppe is a street musician. He wants to be free from his master. Frederisk is an orphaned clockmaker's apprentice. He wants make jouneyman and have his own shop. He also wants to know why his mother left him in the orphanage. Hannah is a maid in a grand hoter. She hears about a treasure. She wants to find...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Here's the breakdown of our school district/ corporation.


I teach 7th grade in the 7-8 Junior High School.

I let the kids know I read a good deal, and generally I enter the AR competition as well. I would do this to motivate the students, and hey - I found it fun, ok?

Well, last year within the first 2 or 3 weeks of school a kid asked me if I'd read this book. And then he asked me at least once a week for the duration of the school year. I never got around to it, and I felt pretty bad....more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hannah B
This book is about three adventurous children named Hannah,Frederick,and Giuseppe,who all want something.Hannah wants her ill father to heal.Frederick wants to become a journeyman clockmaker, and Giuseppe wants a boat ticket home to Italy.They must team up to achieve these goals.Will they succeed,or plummet into the horrible realm known as failure?

What I liked about this book was that the moods fluctuated often.At one point in the book,when it looked like the three characters had won,they'd all...more
I read this recently due to the constant urging of my 11 year old son, who loved it. He was right, it was a great YA novel, a real pleasure. Set in an alternate turn-of-the-century not-New York city, it features three very interesting and charming lead characters. It reminded me (in a good way) of the novels of Joan Aiken, one of my top five writers in the entire universe, so that is not a shabby recommendation at all.
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Matthew Kirby was born in Utah, and grew up in Maryland, California, and Hawaii. As an undergraduate he majored in history, and then went on to pursue an M.S. in school psychology. For ten months out of the year he works with students, and during the rest of the year he writes. He and his wife currently live in northern Utah.

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“He waved to the city and said good-bye.
The city responded by carrying on the way it always did, traffic moving forward uninterrupted, without slowing, as if it were trying to demonstrate its permanence and show him it would still be there if he ever wanted to return. That promise was the best and only thing he could ask of it.”
“Giuseppe would miss them as well, but in a different way than he would miss the city. A city would stay the same. The same buildings. The same streets. Not forever, but for a great long while. But Frederick and Hannah would never again be the people they were right now, standing on the dock, wishing him farewell. Tomorrow they would wake up and be a little bit different and a little bit different the day after that, and in no time they might become people he did not recognize. Giuseppe knew it because they were already different from when he had first met them. He knew it because he was different from when they had first met him.” 13 likes
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