September 23, 2017

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The Wonderling by Mira Bartók | SLJ Review

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redstarBARTÓK, Mira. The Wonderling. 464p. Candlewick. Sept. 2017. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780763691219.

Gr 3-6 –Thirteen, 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

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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