The Wikkeling [NOOK Book]


In the enormous city of the Addition, all children are SAFE, SECURE, and SUPERVISED, and are watched by cameras even while they sleep. Henrietta is unlikable at her competitive school until she meets Gary and Rose. They all share something in common: headaches with an unknown cause. Then, late one night, Henrietta makes a startling discovery when she finds a wounded cat in the attic above her bedroom. Soon after, a series of strange occurrences follow, including the appearance of a threatening creature with ...

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The Wikkeling

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In the enormous city of the Addition, all children are SAFE, SECURE, and SUPERVISED, and are watched by cameras even while they sleep. Henrietta is unlikable at her competitive school until she meets Gary and Rose. They all share something in common: headaches with an unknown cause. Then, late one night, Henrietta makes a startling discovery when she finds a wounded cat in the attic above her bedroom. Soon after, a series of strange occurrences follow, including the appearance of a threatening creature with long, waxy fingers, who calls itself the Wikkeling. With the help of an ancient Bestiary, will Henrietta and her friends solve these mysteries before the Wikkeling finally catches them? Age: Middle Reader 8-12

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Arntson makes his children's debut with this quirky, sometimes ambling adventure. Henrietta lives in a society so tightly controlled and regimented that parents can monitor their children every moment of the day, and teachers can judge a student's progress instantaneously. Relentlessly barraged by advertising, stifled by safety requirements, and suffocated by overzealous adults, Henrietta yearns for freedom. Her old house may be unfashionable by modern standards, but when Henrietta discovers its secret attic, it becomes a welcome haven. After she finds a near-mythical Wild House Cat and nurses it back to health, it gives her a purpose, as well as an opportunity to make friends with two like-minded schoolmates. Things get weird, however, when an ominous, enigmatic creature known as the Wikkeling starts stalking them. While striking, Terrazzini's illustrations (including entries from an ancient bestiary that Henrietta's step-grandfather gives her) can feel peripheral to the story, which rests uncertainly between a dystopian novel and a fantasy in the vein of the Spiderwick Chronicles; despite its many compelling elements, they fall short of forming a cohesive whole. Ages 8–12. (June)
From the Publisher

James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner trilogy
“A truly original piece of work. Swinging from funny to creepy to intriguing, it kept me enthralled throughout. I loved it.”

Sylvia Branzei, author of the international bestselling Grossology series and author of the Ickstory series
The Wikkeling is fresh and edgy. Even when I wasn’t reading the book, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It is a great story that makes the reader ponder, “What if?” and, “Could our future look similar to the one in this book?” The Wikkeling is a middle-grade novel with the maturity to appeal to adult science fiction readers as well.  It is a good read.”

Jacqueline West, New York Times bestselling author of The Shadows (Book 1 of The Books of Elsewhere)
“Skillfully written, clever, frightening, and hopeful, it is a tale that feels like a reassuring secret handshake to anyone who believes in the power of books.”
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2011
Provocative and offbeat. (Fantasy. 10-14)
School Library Journal
"Arntson has created a detailed and fascinating dystopian world that seems eerily similar to our own, and Terrazzini’s illustrations strike just the right note. This delightfully creepy tale will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline."

Kirkus, May 2011
"The 13 stories, from a range of authors including several who have previously written mostly for adults, range from romance to horror, cover a gamut of times and places …machinery and punk spirit."

Books at Midnight, May 2011
"short yet pleasurable, like whiffs of a delicious, passing aroma.”

The Book Smuggler, 5/27/11
"The Wikkeling is an interesting endeavor, mixing a horrific sort of Coraline-ish fantasy element with a dystopian, high-technology society. … wonderfully creepy and brilliantly imagined."

Ian Chipman, Booklist May 2011
"…What Arntson is really doing is looking forward to look back, using a near-future technoland to counterpoint the joys of old books over cell phones, trees over highways, and creatures just at the periphery of understanding over mollycoddled safety. It’s all kind of creepy (especially with Terrazzini’s silhouette artwork), deadpan funny, and totally engrossing, even though the book doesn’t come close to fully explaining everything. But that is ultimately a smart move; asking for a bit of interpretation makes this challenging and at times even confounding read that much more memorable. Although too many books are burdened with unnecessary sequels, this one screams for one, or even many.", 7/10/11
“This engaging, slightly spooky fantasy novel can be read on a couple of levels. Upper elementary kids (the target age is 9-12 years old) will likely read it as an adventure story….Adults and older readers might get into the allegorical aspect of the story.”

Deseret News, 8/21/11
"The Wikkeling” is a combination of fairy tale elements (monsters, secret attic rooms, hidden passages and turrets in castles) juxtaposed against modern media-driven technology (lilac smelling exhaust, commercials emitted in cars and computers counting down to their own obsolescence)… Arntson’s balance of past, present and dystopian future is skillfully handled… Terrazzini’s eerie black and white shadow drawings and the detailed pages from the handwritten Bestiary add to the antiquated feel of the Old World of books.”

King County Library System, Book Talk blog
"First time author Steve Arnston creates an intriguing and truly creepy dystopian novel for the middle grade set.  There is no evil source at play here- just a version of reality where technology combined with fear and the drive for efficiency has taken over. His vision of the future is tied enough to current realities, both in technology and educational testing, that it is not a huge leap for readers to buy in.   The characters are well-developed down to the last detail. From the teacher concerned with the class's statistics to  Rose's secretly squatting family who runs their own underground library servicing the mysterious and dilapidated Old City, each character serves to provide a little more insight into the world Arnston creates and a backdrop to the children's adventure.  
Finally, the real kicker- excellent writing.  Arnston delivers this dystopian adventure with sharp writing and even sharper humor.  Literary, creepy, well-developed and hilarious, this is a great handsell."

Sarah Biggerstaff, Program Specialist Youth Services, George W. Hawkes Central Library
"For any child who enjoys a good spine tingling suspense novel, The Wikkeling by Steven Arntson will grab hold and never let go."

The Memorial Hall Library
The Wikkeling is a fascinating and unusual novel for older readers…The author warns the reader that not (all of these) problems will be solved during the story: “She will not become beautiful when someone gives her a new hairstyle.  She will not find a miracle cure for her pimples when an angel sees she’s a good girl inside.  She will not find out that she’s actually a princess, and she won’t become happily forever when a prince marries her.  Those books are out there, and your school librarian can help you find one.  This isn’t it.” … Parents will also enjoy some of the ironic humor in this story.”
“A little spooky, a bit complicated, and very much well worth it… 4/5 stars, highly recommend it.”

Kansas City Public Library, reviewed by Ron Freeman
“Wonderful… Arntson’s vision is scary and believable…, a compelling story… I would recommend this book to kids ages 11 and up who like dark visions of the future.”
The Wikkeling is empowering for anyone who has ever been, or ever will be, a kid in middle school. It’s also a fantastic read.”

Children's Literature - Leona Illig
A young teenager, Henrietta Gad-Fly, finds it hard to live in the ominous, technology-driven world around her, where computers determine just about everything and there is always something watching you. Life changes, however, when a mysterious wild house cat shows up in the attic of her family's house, and Henrietta gets a glimpse of what the world used to look like through the magic of the old attic windows. With the help of some young friends and her step-grandfather, Henrietta begins to appreciate the value and power of old things, especially old books. It is knowledge that she and her friends will need to destroy the evil Wikkeling, a creature that feeds on the energy of humans and computer systems alike. The author has created a superb futuristic society in this novel, complete with senior citizen communities located on dead-end streets, kids who can type but not read, plastic lawns, and ubiquitous commercials. The occasional switch from third person to first person provides an eerie dimension to this story, as do the different typefaces and the dramatic black and white block illustrations. The story includes the death of a family member from cancer, and the depiction of a strained and somewhat loveless relationship between Henrietta's parents. The book also contains some frightening images, in both words and pictures. The resolution of the plot and the conclusion of the book are left open-ended, probably indicating that this book is intended to be the first in a series. Reviewer: Leona Illig
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—In Henrietta's world, every part of life is monitored and regulated by computers. House cats are considered wild and dangerous animals. Old houses and old books can make children sick. The girl's orderly and safe life is disrupted the day she discovers a secret attic above her bedroom, where a wounded cat has taken refuge, and the windows show scenes from her neighborhood's past and time seems to stand still. Soon after this discovery, she starts seeing the Wikkeling, a menacing yellow creature that gives children headaches with the touch of a finger. She learns that a few others can see it, too, and they work together to solve the mystery of what it is, and what it wants from them. Arntson has created a detailed and fascinating dystopian world that seems eerily similar to our own, and Terrazzini's illustrations strike just the right note. This delightfully creepy tale will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman's Coraline (HarperCollins, 2002).—Misti Tidman, formerly at Boyd County Public Library, Ashland, KY
Kirkus Reviews

The low-key dystopia pictured in this inventive tale may not strike a chill into the hearts of young readers, but it's sure to disconcert adults.

The highly connected, technological future in which Henrietta Gad-Fly lives feels appallingly possible. Safety is the primary social force, solitude is unknown, traffic jams clog the roads and horns have been replaced by "Honk Ads," which relentlessly tout upgraded cell phones and promote conspicuous consumption. Awkward and lonely, Henrietta is surprised and pleased to make two friends in the space of a few days. Oddly enough, Gary and Rose both share her propensity for headaches. The discovery of a "wild housecat" in Henrietta's attic leads all three to learn more about the past, connects Henrietta to her family in new ways and eventually sparks a confrontation with the creature (or program?) that is draining their energy and causing them pain. Along the way, Arntson touches on the value of knowledge, the destruction of the environment and the importance of individuality, as well as offering intriguing glimpses of a number of imaginary animals. Most of Terrazzini's black-and-white illustrations resemble cut-paper silhouettes and provide a suitably stark vision of Henrietta's world. A few wispier grey-on-grey drawings are included, ostensibly on pages of the antique Bestiary the children consult, and these are variously whimsical and frightening.

Provocative and offbeat.(Fantasy. 10-14)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762442492
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/14/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Steven Arntson lives in Seattle. He earned an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and currently divides his time between writing stories, composing and performing music, and teaching music and writing to high school and college students. He lives with his wife in an attic apartment in an old house with three cats and many bicycles. This is his first book for children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2014


    I am a young sixth-grader who goes by the codename HALOAngels. Well, one day I was looking for relatively scary books. I was scrolling down on the school computer, until I saw one that seemed "different". I clicked it and read the information. Seemed interesting enough. I scribbled the CALL number down on a small piece of scrap paper and got up. There was the book, and it certainly was different. It had a pale reddish-orange color, and was wider than the others. On the front was a picture of a slender form with pale yellow clothing. There were three children who obviously didn't want to be touched by it. I picked it up and checked it out. I had figured I was the first one to check it out. The pages were perfect, there wasn't a single flaw with the Bestiary pages, and the checkout page was a perfect halfway-to-yellow color. Of course, me being an AVID student, I tried NOT to devour it in one day. It took me about a week to read it, considering it took me about three days to get my eyes off the Bestiary. My favorite character? The special, the brilliant, the amazing Mister Lady, the wild housecat!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2011


    One of the best books i have ever come across. A must read. Strange and philosophical and wonderful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2011


    Good but wierd

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The world that Arnston creates is both scary and magical but most of

    Many of you following me on Facebook or Twitter have probably heard me say (more than once) that The Wikkeling was "strange." When I first started to read it, I could not shake the creep factor. The cover is freaky and the book itself is not a traditional size. It's wider, includes lots of handwrtitten script and has creepy illustrations of people without faces. BUT, once I got past the slightly, unsettling feel of the book itself, I found myself liking the story quite a bit.

    The story is set in the future. Henrietta lives in a world where every move is tracked. She sleeps in a room with a BedCam and her mother is able to find her via the GPS locator on her phone. When taking a test in school, the results are immediately tabulated and sent straight to her parents for review. Even her bus ride home is monitored. Her world is a world of gadgets, yet she lives in an "old" house. Her house is one of the few old houses left. Nearly every other one is pre-fab and made of plastic. This old house gives her "house sickness" which causes tremendous headaches. The headaches she has in common with two new friends, Gary and Rose. They too, suffer or have suffered with house sickness so they quickly form a bond.

    However, when Henrietta discovers that her attic is a secret passageway into the past and is home to a giant house cat by the name of Mister Lady, she and her friends begin to explore the past by visiting it regularly. With the help of a Bestiary (a compendium of beasts), they discover the true nature of their headaches and set out to find the truth.

    The Wikkeling is marketed as a children's book but adult readers who enjoy magical worlds and creatures will also enjoy this book. The secrecy surrounding the attic is fun and the fascination and preservation of real books held my attention. As ads are screamed at them at every opportunity, their escape to the attic is comforting. It's warm and inviting and full of books.

    My copy of The Wikkeling includes entries for these magical creatures and they are written in script on gray colored pages. The book I received was an ARC, so perhaps the issue was addressed with the final copy, but I had a hard time reading that script on such a dark, gray background. The fact that I wanted to, is a testament to how much I enjoyed this aspect of the book. Including it made me feel as if I were flipping through my very own Bestiary, which I'm sure was the point.

    What fascinates me about this book is that the technology discussed within it, is technology that we are currently using today. GPS trackers and cell phones are everywhere and although advertisements are not streamed to us via our automobiles, I'm sure it's just around the corner. As we become more high tech, we lose something in the process and that's really what this book is about.

    I think older kids, 10-12 will enjoy this book, but anyone younger might not be able to get over the creep factor of those faceless drawings and long-fingered creatures. Overall, a fun read!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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