The Wonderling, by Mira Bartok

The Wonderling, by Mira Bartok (Candlewick, September 2017)

The Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures is a dumping ground for young groundlings--animal hybrid persons.  This horrible place, run in true evil orphanage fashion by Miss Carbunkle, is home to a young fox groundling, known only as No. 13.  The shy, good-hearted creature has the memory of a long-ago song to comfort him, and can hear far off sounds and understand the language of the mice in the orphanage walls.  But the conditions at the orphanage are terrible.  When a new groundling, a little flightless bird being named Trinket arrives, she becomes his first friend, and gives him a name, Arthur.

Trinket's determined to escape, and she convinces Arthur to brave the world outside the walls with her.  They part ways, each driven to find the place they came from, and Arthur, utterly innocent and naïve, must navigate the teeming, often cruel city of Lumentown, which is not a good place at all for a young groundling.  Thanks to his marvelous hearing, he learns that Mss Carbunkle has a dastardly plan to remove all music from the world.  And Arthur, still enchanted by the memory of his own song, is determined to stop her. Reunited with Trinket, and joined by a brave mouse, Arthur returns to the orphanage to free the other groundlings and destroy Miss Carbunkle's plans.

Arthur is as sweet a young hero as all get out, and more naïve than even young readers, who will want to shake the pages of the book to warn him of dangers from time to time!  Trinket and the mouse are fine sidekicks, and hints of bigger magic than just the existence of the groundlings add a mythic underpinnings to the adventure.  It's the vividness of the world, though, that truly makes this stand out.  It's a place with ancient woods, clockwork deices, flying bicycles, and magical crows.  The reader can almost smell the sewers and hear the music...

This is definitely one for the young reader who identifies with the lonely and the outcast, whose favorite books are fairytale-like worlds of wonder where goodness is never squashed under the heal of evil and prejudice. Bartok's beautifully detailed illustrations, generously sprinkled thought the story, add to the magic of it all.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


  1. Love the cover art. Sounds like a must-read!

  2. This sounds utterly charming. Thanks for the review.

  3. It's impossible to cut down on my TBR pile when you keep reviewing books that look so good!


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