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The Wonderling Hardcover – September 26, 2017
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From the Publisher
A Q&A with Mira Bartók
Q. One of the central themes of The Wonderling is that no matter one’s size, stature, or humble beginnings, they can make positive change in the world. How do you think this story will resonate with readers today who may feel powerless, threatened, or oppressed?
A. I always go back to that quote from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring film: Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. I thought about the line a lot when I wrote this story. I don’t know how my book will resonate with those who feel powerless, but I would hope that, at the very least, they won’t feel so alone. And that they will be able to find solace and courage within the pages.
Q. What do you hope readers (of all ages) will take away from The Wonderling?
A. I’d be content if they took away a little wonder, a dash of hope, and a bit of empathy. I think we need those three things more than anything right now.
Captivating —Kirkus Reviews (starred rewview)
Written with clear and detailed descriptions, this novel drops readers into a strange, magical, mythical, and mechanical world. Bearing some similarities to Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events with shades of Erin Hunter's "Warriors" series, Bartók's title will appeal to readers who appreciate anthropomorphized animal characters, high-stakes adventure, and Dickensian settings. A stellar new contribution to fantasy."
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Bartók's language is full of rich description and effulgent inventories of food and places...Bartók's lovely, detailed illustrations and drawings throughout support the sense of enchantment in this imaginative adventure. Captivating and with great potential as a read-aloud.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Written with clear and detailed descriptions, this novel drops readers into a strange, magical, mythical, and mechanical world...Bearing some similarities to Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" with shades of Erin Hunter's "Warriors" series, Bartók's title will appeal to readers who appreciate anthropomorphized animal characters, high-stakes adventure, and Dickensian settings. A stellar new contribution to fantasy that should find a place in every middle grade collection.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Arthur's Dickensian steampunk world is richly imagined and gorgeously described...Arthur's story of friendship, hope, and heroics will delight adventure seekers, and the open-ended conclusion and tantalizing hints of larger doings afoot will bring readers eagerly back for the promised sequel. Younger readers not yet ready to tackle a long novel on their own will still be enthralled by the story in shared reading or readaloud.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
Bartók's prose is as alluring as the story she weaves. Every song, every food, every object adds texture to the world, layering the known, the unknown and the magical...A gentle, modern-day nod to the children's books of old, The Wonderling is a sweet, uplifting adventure.
—Shelf Awareness Pro
Bartók doesn't delve into the origins of groundlings but uses them successfully as a stand-in for other disenfranchised groups, with the groundlings subjected to derision and menial tasks by most of the upper classes. Music plays an important role in the story, both as a means of connection and a force for good...Bartók gives readers a richly imagined fantasy landscape to lose themselves in.
This beguiling fiction debut from Bartók (The Memory Palace, 2011) is just the ticket for readers who revel in quest stories, or those with a soft spot for animal fantasies. Bartók carefully constructs her world, gracing it with a classed society, music, and a touch of steampunk.
A dreamy Dickensian tale of a fox-like, one-eared "groundling"[…] the book's imagined worlds, from hovels to mansions, are imbued with the wonder of the title and its innocent hero, no match for the Faginesque creatures he encounters, should resonate especially with gentle, guileless readers.
Bartok has delivered what I hope will become a treasured classic in children's literature. THE WONDERLING is magical, morally-sound and a true treat for readers of all ages...Bartok writes with a lyrical, cadenced voice and her ability to craft a new, magical world knows no bounds.
This novel joins riotous exploits with heartfelt wisdom...the most notable element of this story is the pervading message of hope—that no matter how dark the world may seem, there is always light to be found, whether it be in friendship, in the simple sounds of nature or in the countless other small wonders around us.
Bartók demonstrates her own inventiveness: one type of device for instance is a combination of passenger pigeon, player piano, and the internet. She also creates memorable scenes.
—The Horn Book
Small sepia-colored illustrations throughout add elegance to this dramatic adventure for children ages 8-13.
—The Wall Street Journal
The richly developed characters and setting immediately enthrall young readers, who might relish this stylishly written story as both a solo and a read-aloud experience.
...a good story that will not be put down until the end is reached.
—School Library Connection Online
About the Author
Mira Bartók is a writer and artist whose New York Times best-selling memoir, The Memory Palace: A Memoir, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. The Wonderling is her first novel for young readers. She lives in Western Massachusetts.
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Top customer reviews
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Arthur is a young fox groundling (a sort of anthropomorphic animal). He lives in an orphanage with other groundlings, ruled by the cruel Miss Carbunkle, who metes out punishments to maintain order and has placed a permanent ban on music or anything happy. Arthur meanders through his miserable existence, but that changes when he meets Trinket. It is Trinket who gives him his name- before that, doesn’t even have a name and is referred to as Thirteen. Trinket becomes Arthur’s first friend, and she tells him wonderful stories about the world outside the Home. Arthur is terrified by change, but with Trinket’s coaxing, he agrees to escape with her. This proves to be the beginning of an amazing adventure, as Arthur tries to discover his origins.
This was an amazing story. It took us awhile to read this one, but the girls were very excited to read a chapter or two every night. I loved the immersive world, and the most fascinating thing is that even though Arthur’s travels took him to so many different places, I feel as though we barely scratched the surface of Arthur’s world. We all loved the camaraderie between Trinket and Arthur; their friendship is certainly one for the ages.
It’s hard to determine which part was our favorite because there were so many lovely things that happened over the course of the story. I have to say that I loved the Fagin-like character who takes Arthur under his wing at one point. My girls loved Trinket’s inventions, as well as the incident with the wig. Oh, and the Songcatcher was something of great interest to them too.
I would absolutely recommend The Wonderling to middle grade readers. It has a quirky Victorian steampunk motif that adds a rich layer to the overall ambience. The story moves at a fairly quick pace; it seemed as though there was always something happening. We can’t wait to find out what the future holds for Arthur, Trinket, and the rest of our favorites.
I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I liked this book so much that I purchased a hardcover book for our personal library.
Her artistry with language is a gift to us in itself. All I can do is thank her, over and again.