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The Wonderling (Paperback)
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“Arthur’s Dickensian steampunk world is richly imagined and gorgeously described. . . . This story of friendship, hope, and heroics will delight adventure seekers.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
Welcome to Miss Carbunkle’s Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an orphanage for young groundlings (part human, part animal) run by a cunning villainess. For lonely Number Thirteen, a shy, one-eared, foxlike creature, it is the only home he has ever known. When he meets a bird groundling named Trinket, Number Thirteen gains two things: a real name (Arthur, like the good king in the old stories) and a best friend. Trinket and Arthur escape over the high walls of the orphanage and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and to Arthur’s true destiny: to become the Wonderling and save music for everyone. Rife with steampunk inventions, magical plot twists, and finely detailed illustrations, the paperback edition of Mira Bartók’s debut novel is sure to enchant.
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.
Momentum builds toward a thrilling crescendo and, rarest of all, a wholly satisfying ending that still whets the appetite for a sequel.
—The New York Times Book 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
A brilliant, sweeping work of imagination, this grand adventure is filled with marvelously rich characters and unpredictable twists and turns, making this novel one that won't let you down for one second.
—Reading Eagle (from Kendal Rautzhan's "Books to Borrow")
This richly imagined, enthralling fantasy with its evocative names and lovely writing, is the debut children's novel from Mira Bartok, a writer and artist who who the 2011 National Book Award for her memoir "Memory Palace."
Middle graders will enjoy this high-adventure Victorian steampunk animal fantasy with music, clever prose, and quaint illustrations, done in ink, graphite, and gouache.