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Clockwork (novel) facts for kids

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First edition (UK)
Author Philip Pullman
Illustrator Peter Bailey
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 92 pp
ISBN 0-385-40755-6
OCLC 36964106

Clockwork, or All Wound Up is an illustrated short children's book by Philip Pullman, first published in the United Kingdom in 1996 by Doubleday, and in the United States by Arthur A. Levine Books in 1998. The Doubleday edition was illustrated by Peter Bailey and the Arthur A. Levine Books edition was illustrated by Leonid Gore. It was shortlisted for both the Whitbread Children's Book Award and for a Carnegie Medal in 1997.

Pullman has said his novel was inspired by an old clock he came across in London's Science Museum. Noting the movement of the clock's gears, he wrote the story with elements that move in opposite directions.


Clockwork is set in the town of Glockenheim in Germany in "the old days". It has three main characters: Karl, an apprentice clockmaker who has failed to make a figure for the town clock; Gretl,who is a very selfless young girl is also one of the main characters and is the daughter of the innkeeper of Glockenheim and Fritz, a local writer whose unfinished story sets the gears of Clockwork turning.

The townspeople gather in the White Horse Tavern the evening before a new figure for their town clock made by Karl is to be unveiled. Karl, however, admits to Fritz that he has not made the figure, the first apprentice in hundreds of years to fail to do so. The people in the tavern listen to Fritz read from his latest story about a local aristocrat, Prince Otto, and his young son, Prince Florian. Prince Otto dies while on a hunting trip. His heart has been replaced with a clockwork mechanism that enables him to drive his son home in their sledge. Fritz wrote down the story after having a dream, but he has not thought of an ending for it, and hopes that he will be able to think up one on the spot: "He was just going to wind up the story, set it going, and make up the end when he got there."

The story begins to come true when the evil Dr. Kalmeneius comes to the door of the tavern. Fritz flees in terror. Dr. Kalmeneius offers Karl a clockwork figure called Sir Ironsoul, which Karl accepts. Karl's acceptance of the gift sets in motion a chain of interlocking stories. A price must be paid for this gift, as Sir Ironsoul is a mechanical knight that comes alive and kills anyone who says the word "Devil". Only the song "The Flowers of Lapland" can stop him.

The narrative shifts back and forwards through time. It is revealed that Prince Florian was made from clockwork by Dr. Kalmeneius on the wishes of his father. His mechanical heart will soon wind down. Gretl is the only person who can restore true life to him. All the stories come together as one. Karl places Prince Florian in the clock's tower as his apprentice piece. Karl is killed by Sir Ironsoul. Gretl finishes the journey by bringing Prince Florian to life through her unselfish love.

Stage adaptation

A version with music by Stephen McNeff and libretto by David Wood toured the United Kingdom before playing in the Linbury Studio Theatre at London's Royal Opera House in March 2004. The production's orchestra was formed from musicians from the Philharmonia Orchestra and Martin Music Scholarship Fund Award Scheme.

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