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10 / 30 books. 33% done!

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55 / 104 books. 53% done!

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42 / 52 books. 81% done!

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54 / 165 books. 33% done!
Friday, November 19, 2010

Three Kids + Three Treasures = One Big Adventure

(Image from Indiebound)

Three children. Three treasures. One big adventure.

Hannah, Frederick and Giuseppe are strangers living in the same city whose lives are about to converge. Each of the kids harbor a secret desire: Hannah hopes to cure her bedridden father, Frederick longs to make journeyman so he can open his own clockwork shop, and Giuseppe just wants to flee his cruel padrone and head back to Italy. They are impossible goals for a hotel maid, an apprentice, and a street musician, but when each of the kids finds a mysterious treasure, their goals actually seem achievable. Rumors of hidden money could mean the best doctors for Hannah's father; a valuable Magnus head could complete Frederick's automaton, a creation sure to earn him fame and fortune; and a magic violin is bringing in enough money to satisfy Giuseppe's employer as well as purchase a boat ticket. Only secrets never stay secret for very long - as desperate as the trio are to hold onto their gems, someone's even more determined to take them.

When, by chance, the kids meet, a fast friendship forms. As they share their stories, they realize that the only people they can really count on are each other. By working together they just might be able to solve the mysteries of their individual treasures, making all their dreams come true in the process. What seems simple, though, soon turns into a grand adventure, forcing the children into face-offs with everything from street thugs to a cougar to mechanical bodyguards. Getting the things they most desire won't be easy for the determined trio, it may even be impossible, but they have to try - for their families, themselves and each other.

The Clockwork Three, Matthew J. Kirby's exciting debut for middle graders, mixes a whole bunch of genres (historical fiction, fantasy, adventure, steampunk, etc.) to create a thrilling ride sure to capture the imaginations of readers of all ages. Empathetic characters, solid writing and an intriguing plotline make the story both compelling and moving. While the tale touches on dark subjects (poverty, child labor, kidnapping, and other issues common at the turn-of-the-century), it remains a hopeful, magical tale of children gathering the courage to change their own lives. The ending offers enough mystery for several books, which I sincerely hope are forthcoming. And soon.
(Readalikes: Reminded me a teensy bit of Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. Can you think of any others?)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for subject matter best suited for older children

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of The Clockwork Three from the generous folks at Scholastic. Thank you!

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