This heart-wrenching tale is set in the fictional steampunk town of New Babbage, in an era without electricity.
An elderly clockmaker and seller, Mr. McKenzie, constructs a mechanical clockwork shop assistant to help in his store, using the remains of a child’s stuffed toy bear and some free clock components. He gives his creation the name of “River Falcon” after randomly scanning the pages of a yellowed dusty atlas and he takes the toy to work in his store. One noticeable feature of this amazing invention is the addition of a mechanical reading eye, which allows River Falcon to fluently read the labels of the clocks and timepieces for potential customers.
The invention proves its worth in the store, by attracting a great deal of attention from customers and passers-by alike. However, a thief also spies River Falcon and decides to steal him as an attraction for a travelling circus.
It is then that his reading ability allows him to achieve his true potential and to discover how the power of the written word can change his life for the better: how he can discover the true meaning of friendship and love.