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30 August, 2016
Book Review: The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby
Author: Matthew Kirby
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 2010
Three children in a mysterious American city on the coast find their lives intertwined together by strange happenings. As they develop friendships with each other they come to discover that they need to work together to help each other with the problems that plague their lives.
Giuseppe, is an Italian orphan who was bought from his uncle and taken from his home in Italy and his siblings to work as a street musician for a padrone named Stephano. As one of Stephano's "wards" Giuseppe busks on different street corners throughout the city, playing a worn fiddle and collecting coins that are brought back to Stephano every night. It has been six years since he was brought from Italy, and he wants to return to find his brother and sister who had been left with his uncle. But he has no way to get a boat ticket as they cost more money than he can make and the docks are paid by off by the padrones. One day he finds a green violin floating in the wreckage of a cargo ship and after playing it he comes up with a plan. But he has to keep the violin secret from Stephano to avoid it being taken from him and given to another of the padrone's street musicians.
Frederick is also an orphan. Rescued from life in an orphanage and working in a cloth weaving factory by chance. He is apprenticed to the elderly Master Branch, a guild master clock maker. He is only thirteen but has dreams of completing his journeyman's project and becoming the youngest journeyman clock maker in the guild. He is secretly building a clockwork man in the basement of his master's shop, and has completed the body but does not know how to start fabricating the head.
Hannah works as a maid in the ornate hotel her father helped build. She has left school in order to support her family after her father becomes bed bound after suffering a stroke. On the day that she overhears the head of maids and the head staff keeper talking about a hidden treasure she is catapulted from the position of an ordinary room maid to the personal maid of a wealthy and mysterious Madame Pomroy, a guest of the hotel. As she is working for Madame Pomroy she is given the opportunity to experience things she had only ever dreamed of doing like visiting the opera for a performance. When her father falls ill with an infected bedsore the doctor wants to amputate his leg but says that there is an expensive medication that can help the infection. Can Hannah find the money to pay for the medicine?
As events between the three young teenager's lives start to mesh together they form a friendship. The three need to learn to trust each other to overcome the danger's that lurk before them. Can they successfully navigate the adventures that take them through the city and into the wild park at it's center while staying true to themselves and the beliefs that they hold dear to themselves?
The copy of this book that I read is an advanced reading copy that I picked up from a local little free library. From the moment I started reading I was transported to this nineteenth century city and found myself engrossed in the story of the three children. I loved the book and read it in one sitting. The way that the city and the wilderness of McCauley's park were written were so realistic and engrossing.
I also loved the addendum at the end of the book in the about the author section saying that he was inspired by a true story from 1873 named Joseph who had been brought to New York City as a slave to play music for money on the streets of the city. The real boy Joseph's court case against his padrone brought about changes in the laws of New York City that protected children who had been brought to the country like himself. I could tell from the way the book was written that the author has a love of history, and he brought such realistic touches to his city in the story. This was the first book written by author Matthew Kirby and has jumped him onto my list of author's to look for in the future.