In this extraordinary debut novel with its deft nod to Dickensian heroes and rogues, Mira Bartók tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.
Have you been unexpectedly burdened by a recently orphaned or unclaimed creature? Worry not! We have just the solution for you!
Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name — a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck — it is the only home he has ever known. But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home’s loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name — Arthur, like the good king in the old stories — and a best friend. Using Trinket’s ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur’s true destiny. Richly imagined, with shimmering language, steampunk motifs, and gripping, magical plot twists, this high adventure fantasy is the debut novel of award-winning memoirist Mira Bartók and has already been put into development for a major motion picture.
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|Age Range:||10 - 14 Years|
About the Author
I grew up with my mother and sister in a quiet neighborhood in the Midwest and spent a lot of time alone wandering the fields and woods behind my grandparents’ house. I often spent hours up in a tree sketching birds and squirrels or reading books. I was particularly fond of illustrated fairy tales and books with animals as narrators, like Black Beauty or Call of the Wild. But music was my first love. My mother was a pianist and taught me how to play piano before I could read. I played violin too, and eventually learned how to play the harp. When I was four, my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, “an artist disk jockey!” I thought that a disk jockey was someone who rode a horse, holding a radio that played the most beautiful music in the world for everyone to hear. Apparently, I thought the job also involved drawing pictures.
When I was in kindergarten, I witnessed a life-changing event. Everyone in school was gathered in the auditorium to see a local children’s book author and illustrator. But instead of reading from a book, he placed a giant pad of paper on an easel and drew the characters as he told the story. I said to myself, “Someday, I’m going to do that too!”
The Wonderling is my very first book with Candlewick Press, and I couldn’t be happier! I first got the idea from a quick sketch I made. At first I drew Arthur, the hero of my story, as a one-eared rabbit, but he eventually turned into a fox. I especially love foxes because my dog looks like a little black fox. But most importantly, I wanted Arthur to possess a secret musical gift and to have a kind and innocent heart, like the beloved pig in the story Babe.
It has been really fun working on The Wonderling. The most surprising thing that happened was that partway through writing the book, two movie agents in Hollywood happened to see one of my illustrations of Arthur. One thing led to another and within a week, I had a movie deal. I can’t wait for the movie to come out! But in the meantime, on to Book Two of The Wonderling!
Three Things You Didn't Know About Me
I can hypnotize turkeys.
I used to work at a zoo and got to hold baby cheetahs, wolves, gorillas, chimps, and baby sun bears.
I once lived in a Sámi (Lapp) reindeer herding village, way above the Arctic Circle in Norway, and learned how to make my own boots by hand. (They look a lot like the shoes Santa’s elves wear, by the way.)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Bartok's writing is superb in this book. The words flowed easily with seamless transitions from page to page. The characters were engaging - kind of reminded me of Jaques Redwall (my all-time favorite series). The story of an orphaned fox with no name living in a cruel orphanage environment will strike a chord with the reader and they will immediately develop a connection with the fox. The fox eventually befriends a bird named Trinket, Trinket gives him the name of Arthur and their friendship begins. The two escape from the orphanage and set off on an adventure that turns into a sort of coming of age story - and sort of quest. The plot of the story is dark but there is redemption at the end and Bartok's writing pulls the reader along as the story unfolds. Bartok's illustrations are scattered throughout and add dimension to the story. The publisher rates this book 10-14 years, I would put it more to 12-16 because of length and complexity. This is a solid choice for tweens and teens looking for a novel they can wrap themselves in. Please note I received a free review copy of this book.
A cute story about an orphaned foxling living in horrible conditions in an orphanage that is more like a prison. One day, he finally meets another orphan destined to be his best friend and give him the courage he needs to try to escape and find out where he came from. The illustrations are just beautiful and the story is very sweet. (Well, minus Miss Carbunkle and her minions. There is nothing sweet about them. lol)
An enchanting story that will take you on an amazing adventure as you feel both heartbroken and hopeful for the creature named 13.
If you like animals, then you will definitely enjoy reading The Wonderling! The author immediately piqued my interest in the story by creating a host of animal-like characters. Number 13 is a one-eared foxlike creature who is classified as a groundling; the lowest creatures in society. Groundlings are not people, but not animals either. Number 13 lives at the horrible place, known to the groundlings there as The Home, Miss Carbunkle’s Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures. It is a dreadful place with no way out; except for the front gate, which is guarded by vicious dogs. When a new creature comes, Number 13 and the bird like creature, Trinket, soon become fast friends. Trinket thinks that she can find a way out of the home. Number 13, now called Arthur, agrees, but the stakes are high. If they are caught, they will be sent to the Dungeon, and possibly never come out. If they succeed, Trinket may find her uncle at The Sea, but Arthur could be caught as an unowned groundling. Will they escape? What happens if they do or don’t? Read the book to find out! My favorite character is Belisha the Night Crow leader. She is mysterious and smart. She first appears in part three of the book and is a major part in the resolution of the plot. My favorite part is when Trinket and Arthur hear of Miss Carbunkle’s evil plan and make a plan to stop her. It is very exciting and a big part of the story! This fantasy/adventure fiction chapter book is 450 pages long. The Wonderling is a medium to hard read. I would recommend it for ages 10-13 because the vocabulary is challenging. I absolutely loved how the author resolved the plot and the illustrations were spectacular! Also, the book is laid out very well, because it is divided into three logical parts. That’s why I gave it 5 stars. It was a true wonder of a book! Brooke Z., 11, Delaware Valley Mensa