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The Clockwork Three

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  7,015 ratings  ·  1,086 reviews
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 fa
Hardcover, 395 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Scholastic Press
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Lor There is no exact year. The general date is around late 1880's/1890's, based on the mention of Edison's electricity.…moreThere is no exact year. The general date is around late 1880's/1890's, based on the mention of Edison's electricity.(less)

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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,015 ratings  ·  1,086 reviews

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Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk
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
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
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
4,8 Stars

This is quite an amazing book and so beautifully written. Almost every turn of page was a great time for me. It's sweet, funny, sad and heartwarming. I doubted about the time setting of this book since there was no exact mention about it (I guess). But I'm pretty positive it was set in a very long time ago, when clock was still something so precious and very artistic. To my limited knowledge, I don't think this kind of clocks still exist nowadays. Watch is a different story. But I'll be
The Clockwork Three is aptly named as this is really three separate stories that occasionally intersect but never quite become one tale. I enjoyed it but never particularly felt moved by it. Partially because all the character are rather...flat. Villains are extremely villainous for no apparent reason. Good guys help the three like they are on some magical quest and then disappear into the story to never return again. The three main characters themselves behaved as one might expect. I suppose in ...more
The Rusty Key
Nov 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Barb Middleton
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk
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
Kayla West
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Natasha Reeves
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Kristen Harvey
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: youngadult, steampunk
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
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
The jacket cover description alone drew me to this book and I had high expectations. As it turned out, the story was not the cleverly designed, enigmatic puzzle I had imagined. Nevertheless, it was a tremendously enjoyable read and ranks among my favorites.

Though it takes place in the United States, the setting is positively dickensian: a class-stratified port city in the latter 19th century. Each of the three main characters are children who have been in indigent or even abusive circumstances.
Rhys M
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My first impressions of the book were a bit negative. I, being judgmental whenever it came to books, thought that the book would be something I would have to slave though. Looking at the cover, I also questioned the positive ratings the book had gotten initially. However, I began reading the book and frankly, in the beginning, it seemed pretty random and far off. Three children, different in every which way, different areas of the city, different personalities, different. One trait they all shar ...more
Mar 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved it! I liked how everything flowed together and was all connected. There was only some minor flaws for me personally with the plot. But otherwise, it was a fantastic book.
This book starts out right in the thick of things, you almost feel like you missed something. But then you realize you are just learning about each character on their own terms. Their lives intertwine and they don't even know it. I enjoyed seeing those moments, when I as the reader knew what was going on but they didn't yet.
There is a mystery in the book and a treasure to find. The characters have to work together in order to find it and they learn that friendship is really important to have in
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: k-scifi-fantasy
rating: 3.5

When Giuseppe found the green violin, he did not think it would help him escape. He did not think it would play at all when he spotted it floating in the harbor.

With those two sentences, Kirby entices the reader to continue turning pages. And those two sentences are typical of Kirby's writing -- unexpected, inviting, and promising a brisk pace. The style and storyline called to mind Funke's Thief Lord.

Kirby insists that the setting is America, and if that's the case it would have to b
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star
I loved this book. It may be for 11-13 year-olds, but I loved it. 100% recommend.

The writing is fantastic & so very lyrical. Kirby really engaged all 5 senses to paint a full picture, and it was amazing. He included a bunch of these really little details to truly make the story come alive. He used a lot of similes though, which I personally enjoyed, but if that's a pet peeve of yours, you might fell a little different.

All of the characters were fully developed, realistic, and had strong personal
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.

Kat Heckenbach
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have to start by mentioning the cover because it is gorgeous, and probably 90% of why I picked this book in the first place. However, while there IS a clockwork man in the story, he's definitely not central to it. The title and cover, imho, are a little misleading.

The story is about three children: two boys, who both happen to be orphans, and a girl who has had to become the breadwinner for her family because her father is so ill. Giuseppe is a busker--a street musician who works for a horrib
Toni Sparks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Apr 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-and-read
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
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Danny Pfarr
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This entire book kept me enticed completely from beginning to end trying to find connections. Connections between characters, events, concepts, whatever was in the book were connected to something else within the plot, so it always kept you guessing and theorizing for what was to come, which most books don't usually get a grasp of. It was truly an amazing historical fiction novel about three kids that needed to learn how to trust again, just to find solace in each other when only days earlier th ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
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". ...more
Justine Laismith
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Historical fiction The Clockwork Three It felt like it was set in Charles Dickens time, Oliver Twist-like, except it was about street busters. When I got to the end, I discovered it was inspired from a real story in New York City. Very enjoyable read.

Hmm heard it was a thing so I am trying to get into it for my readers..I have attempted a foray in this genre with Hugo Cabret, a large YA illustrated novel about clocks and gears and creating your own life and freedoms..This one is another Scholastic read and it is a long one, I mean it is almost four hundred page book (386) and entirely too much to really sustain kid readers..I had to try and finish it though as I stopped another book for being too complex and wanted to take my bias
Katie Bodden
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Felt for those kids. Such horrible things to happen to them at a young age. But like how all their stories mixed together. I wish you knew the ending for Giuseppe.
Natasha  &
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it! Lol the book was so good I hope they don't make it a movie😉 ...more
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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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“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.” 17 likes
“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.”
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