The Wonderling
The Wonderling

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Annotation: This Dickensian story follows Arthur--a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong--as he seeks his destiny.
Catalog Number: #148788
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 450 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-7636-9121-6 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99150-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-7636-9121-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99150-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017956214
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Subject Heading:
Orphans. Fiction.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Miss Carbunkle's Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures isn't much of a home for the orphaned groundlings who reside there. These youngsters rt human, part animal e treated like slaves and forbidden from any activity approximating fun. Among them is the nameless Number 13, a gentle, one-eared fox with music in his heart, incredible hearing, and a gift for understanding animal languages. When his peppy, inventor friend Trinket devises an escape plan, they flee into the world outside, which proves more dangerous than the one they left behind. 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. Number 13, later called Arthur after the legendary king, traverses perilous environs and encounters hostile attitudes toward groundlings in his determined search for his destiny. With a movie already underway, this book seems preordained for popularity. Final illustrations unseen.
Horn Book
Eleven-year-old Arthur is a half boy, half fox "groundling" imprisoned in an orphanage of melodramatic misery. When he makes friends with Trinket, a small, perky birdish creature, his fortunes improve--for a while. Bartsk takes a joyful kitchen-sink approach to this big-canvas fantasy, incorporating plenty of fairy-tale tropes, nods to Dickens and T. H. White, and a generous helping of steampunk.
Publishers Weekly
In her first book for children, Bartók (The Memory Palace) takes readers to a world in which part-human, part-animal groundlings are largely treated with disdain. The story follows a one-eared fox groundling known simply as Number Thirteen, who has spent all of his remembered life at Miss Carbunkle-s Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, where days are spent toiling silently in a classroom and factory. After Thirteen saves Trinket, a daring bird groundling, from bullies, the two hatch a plan to escape the home. Renamed Arthur by Trinket, the fox groundling seeks to uncover his hazy past but finds his trust and innocence tested in dark and unfriendly places. 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. Though somewhat dense and slow moving at times, Bartók gives readers a richly imagined fantasy landscape to lose themselves in. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 36Thirteen, a fox groundling (creatures that are half animal, half human), has spent most of his life in "the Home," a horrid orphanage/workhouse run by the evil Mrs. Carbunkle. When he saves a bird groundling named Trinket, the two hatch an escape plan, and Trinket renames him Arthur, in honor of the brave medieval king. Once Arthur and Trinket are free from Mrs. Carbunkle, they set off on an adventure that will test Arthur's destiny as a Wonderling, including his very unusual abilities to understand and speak to animals and to unknowingly sing a haunting song each night as he sleeps. He will have to head ear-first into danger and return to The Home to find out what that destiny holds. Written with clear and detailed descriptions, this novel drops readers into a strange, magical, mythical, and mechanical world. Fantasy fans will be swept along by the mystery and adventure, guessing until the end how the plot and characters connect. 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. VERDICT A stellar new contribution to fantasy that should find a place in every middle grade collection.Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
A young groundling, or animal hybrid, escapes a horrible orphanage to discover his past. The shy, foxlike groundling known as No. 13 has only the faintest memory of a song and the far-off sounds he can hear with his single furry ear to keep him wondering why he exists. He's imprisoned along with dozens of other unwanted groundlings in a former monastery-turned-grim workhouse where food and comfort are scarce. The seemingly human headmistress has dark secrets, and her assistants are cruel to the orphans. When a clever and resourceful new friend springs Arthur, as she calls No. 13, and herself from the institution, the two embark on an epic journey that will eventually bring them back to free the other orphans. Bartók's language is full of rich description and effulgent inventories of food and places. Her world includes Christmas and Beethoven, along with homes in hollow trees, clockwork beetles, police patrols on flying bicycles, and allusions to ancient magic, both good and evil. Arthur, sweetly innocent throughout his journey, must make his way in Lumentown, where groundlings are at best second-class citizens and High Hats control everything. Arthur's harrowing encounters with cruelty, hunger, and filth are interspersed with gentle humor and kindness. Though the origins of the groundlings are never explored (perhaps saved for the planned sequel), the worldbuilding otherwise has an impressive level of conviction and credibility. 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. (Fiction. 9-13)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal Starred Review (Fri Sep 01 00:00:00 CDT 2017)
ALA Booklist (Sat Jul 01 00:00:00 CDT 2017)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Horn Book (Sun Apr 01 00:00:00 CDT 2018)
Publishers Weekly
Word Count: 90,812
Reading Level: 5.6
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.6 / points: 14.0 / quiz: 191169 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:21.0 / quiz:Q72806
Lexile: 820L

Discussion Guide: Wonderling Discussion Guide

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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