Clockwork

by Philip Pullman, Leonid Gore, and Peter Bailey

An taut and eerie original tale from Philip Pullman set in a small German village... read more

An taut and eerie original tale from Philip Pullman set in a small German village "once upon a time." Everyone in the village is looking forward to the next day's unveiling of the latest addition to the grand clock of Glockenheim, a figure carved by the clockmaker's apprentice, Karl. But Karl has not carved a figure for the clock, and on the eve of the ceremony he is bitter and worried. As Karl broods in the tavern, his friend Fritz, a writer, begins telling his latest story to the others that are gathered there. It is about the dark and brilliant Dr. Kalmenius, a physician and master clockmaker who mysteriously saved the life of a young prince, Florian. Fritz has not actually finished writing the tale he is telling, however. "He was just going to wind up the story, set it going, and make up the end when he got there." But at a pause in his narrative the tavern door slowly opens. Dr. Kalmenius himself is standing there, with "eyes that looked like burning coals in caverns of darkness." As Fritz flees in terror and the townspeople make hasty retreats for their homes, only Gretl, the innkeeper's kind-hearted young daughter, and Karl are left behind. The powerful, magnetic man strikes a deal with Karl to provide him with a figure for the clock, beginning a series of tense and chilling events that unwind, nonetheless, to a satisfying and inevitable conclusion: happily ever after, of course! Pullman's masterful storytelling weaves an unusual and fascinating tale. (Ages 10-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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