It falls under many descriptions. It’s a middle grade novel for ages ten and over. It’s an illustrated book. It’s fantasy, it’s steampunk, and it’s a coming of age novel. But honestly, The Wonderling is one of those books that will defy all genres and is already on its way to becoming an instant classic.
The Wonderling crafts a wonderful redemption tale following Arthur, an innocent, one-eared, foxlike eleven year old. His name isn’t just Arthur, though. Throughout his short (and sad) life, he’s been called Puddlehead, Plonker, Groundling, and Spike. Perhaps the saddest name, though, is Number 13, for Arthur lives at Miss Carbunkle’s Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures–an orphanage for the abandoned young part animal and part human creatures that live in this world Bartók has created.
His life is sad and lonely, living with the cruel Miss Carbunkle, a villainness who cares nothing for the children in her charge. But a chance act of bravery brings him to a new best friend–a young bird groundling named Trinket. She’s the one who gives him the name Arthur, but she also becomes his new best friend. And it’s this new friendship which inspires both of them to escape the Home and make their way into the wide world – looking for where they belong.
With wonderfully gentle illustrations making their way through the book, The Wonderling is a hopeful read. The derring-do of Arthur and Trinket as they make their way across the world and fall into all sorts of hijinks and situations will leave you breathless, rooting for the two young protagonists to make it through. The Wonderling is a beautiful comment on innocence and coming of age, and we can guarantee you’ll fall in love with the world Bartók has so deftly woven.
Not to mention that the book rights have been sold and it will be made into a major motion picture with Fox 2000. In fact, the book rights were sold on synopsis alone! With movie studios interested on that basis, we’re absolutely sure book lovers are ready to be drawn into the world Bartók has so deftly created.
With deft nods to Dickensian heroes and rogues and Arthurian myths and legends, The Wonderling is weaving, magical, and heartwarming. In fifty years, we’ll be calling this book a classic, without a doubt.
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.
Jacket and interior illustrations copyright © 2017 by Mira Bartók. Jacket design and typography by Iacopo Bruno. Published by Walker Books.