The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow- By Katherine Woodfine

clockwork sparrow

A tale of mystery, criminals, crime-solving and much more…


Joe shook his head earnestly. ‘Don’t worry, mate,’ he said. ‘I’ll be on my best behaviour. This is a cracking good kip, this is. Ever slept rough? No, I didn’t reckon you had. Can’t get more than a few winks before the rozzers have you up and move you on again. But this place is a diamond.’

                ‘Well there shouldn’t be anyone down here much. As long as you stay out of sight in one of these rooms, you ought to be safe enough for a day or two,’ said Billy.

                Joe looked unconcerned. ‘There’s plenty of places I can get out the way, if I’ve got to,’ he said airily. Then he added, more awkwardly, ‘Thanks. For helping me out, that is.’

                ‘We’re helping each other remember?’

                The light was almost gone now, so Billy grabbed his cap and jacket and got to his feet. Mum would be mad as hops with him if he was late home, but after everything that had happened that day, it didn’t seem to matter anymore.


Night fell over London. In the bedroom of the lodging house, barer than ever now, Sophie looked out of the window over shadowy streets and back alleys, the darkness broken only by the faint gleam of the street lamps. In the basement of Sinclair’s department store, Joe slept, undisturbed by vigilant policemen, but still troubled by the phantom figure of the Baron, who stalked him through his dreams. Not so very far away, Lil sat by the red glow of her bedroom fire, patiently threading a handful of green beads one after another, back on to a string. And across the water, on the south side of the river, Billy lay awake in his narrow bed, staring up at the familiar map of cracks in the ceiling by the flickering light of the candle.

                He took the note out once more, and carefully traced the letters with his fingers. It was really something, having a proper clue like this. He’d already started trying to decipher it, but with just a candle it was too difficult to make out the smudged letters: he’d have to be patient until the morning. Carefully, he tucked it inside one of the books he kept stacked beside his bed. He didn’t want to risk Mum seeing it and throwing it away, thinking it was just some old bit of rubbish.

                He knew it was late but sleep seemed impossible. He still had a good inch of candle left, so he pulled a copy of Boys of Empire from under his pillow, nestled down under the blankets and began to read.


Why did Billy tuck the note into one of his books?

What was it that disturbed Joe’s sleep?

Give three things that Sophie can see out of her window.

How important was the note to Billy?

Why do you think Joe feels awkward thanking Billy?

How does Joe’s attitude change in paragraph three and why?


If you fancy reading more and finding out what happens, you can get the book here.