The Wonderling (HB)
The Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures is a terrible place ruled over by the cruel Miss Carbunkle. It's the only home 'Number Thirteen' can remember but, filled with orphaned and abandoned groundlings (part animal, part human) forced to toil and suffer in Miss Carbunkle's factory, the Home is definitely not a home.
Enter the delightful kiwi, Trinket, (yes, a part kiwi, part human groundling!) who though some ingenuity, invention and a fair bit of cajoling, inspires her new friend, Number Thirteen, to escape. Together they set out into the world to discover their destiny. The world they discover is magical, mythical and mechanical - a socially stratified steampunk city with definite hints of Dickens about it, and a dark underworld of sewers and ancient magic.
The Wonderling is a high-fantasy adventure story that will appeal to fans of Harry Potter and the Warriors series. Recommended for ages 9-12.
In this extraordinary debut novel with its deft nod to Dickensian heroes and rogues, Mira Bartok 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.
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.
"Full of hope and heart, The Wonderling is one of those stories that feels as familiar - yet unique - as a friend. A triumphant debut." * Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of Girl of Ink and Stars *
"[...] a richly imaging fantasy adventure." * The Bookseller *
Mira Bartok 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.