Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Clockwork Three

The Clockwork Three is a fantastic middle school read. It's fun stems from a blended genre of historical-fiction, fantasy and steam-punk.  

If you are new to the term steam-punk, I am too. From what I’m learning, steam-punk writing refers to stories set during Victorian times when steam power was the dominate energy source for industry, transportation and most of life. The time period is paired with a punk rock attitude toward an overly technological world. I’m still searching for a true understanding of the genre and am glad that Wikipedia has a page devoted to it for reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk

Author of The Clockwork Three, Matthew J. Kirby, based his book on a true historical account of a boy kidnapped from Italy in the 1870s, brought to NYC to play fiddle on street corners for the financial gain of his padrone.  However, as the three main fictional characters of the novel, Giuseppe, Hannah and Frederick, find each other and work to solve each other’s problems, elements of fantasy and steam-punk enter their world as well. The story is full of running down the street suspense and kids triumph over all with smarts and pluck sentiment. Fun!

I cannot wait to introduce this book to middle school students—especially readers who also enjoy The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. An automaton has a key part to play in both books. Historically, automatons were a fascination for people in a pre-computer age of the 1800s. The works of Charles Babbage's, ground breaking work of the time is mentioned in The Clockwork Three for those interested in the infancy of computer technology.

For super readers, The Clockwork Three is a quick read as they will not want to put the fast paced story down. I’m thankful to Elizabeth Jones at Stonewall Middle School for recommending it to me as that kind of book. She is right!

The Clockwork Three has earned tons of great reviews and is beginning to show up on readers choice award lists and others. Check out more about the author and the book at the website links below:

Interview with author, Matthew J. Kirby:

Matthew J. Kirby’s blog:

Wikipedia’s information about the book:

Kirby, M. The Clockwork Three. New York: Scholastic Press. 2010. Print.

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