Clockwork by Philip Pullman

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Recommended by Neil Bowen (@neilbowen3)

Form and genre: novel, extended parable, fantasy

Length: 128 pages in large type – easy to complete and enjoy for even reluctant readers

Summary: It’s the tale of two irresponsible young men, a shallow royal couple, an evil genius and a Faustian pact. And one surprisingly brave little girl. One of these young men, Karl has failed to complete his task of creating a new clockwork figure, while another starts a story he cannot stop.

Age recommendation and challenging content: No trigger warnings, although the action does get rather thrilling, especially when a dangerous clockwork figure of a knight draws its sword and aims for the throat. Recommend for Y7.

Notable reasons for recommending this book: Even though it may be old now and sometimes read at primary level this is my favourite first text to teach to new Year 7s in September. The idea of a Faustian Pact is highly literary and I use it as a trigger for some great creative writing. Then there’s a very memorable villain and a vivid, cinematic prose style, plus a story within a story element, a brilliant extended conceit of writing and clockwork and the metaleptic fusing of different ontological levels as characters step out of one story and into another. Pretty rich and complex stuff for Y7, I reckon.