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The Wonderling by Mira Bartók
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The Wonderling

by Mira Bartók

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A nameless orphan being raised at a grim, isolated orphanage, makes a friend, and an escape, but finds that the city is, if anything, a crueler place to live. The hero is a "groundling"--part human, part animal with unusual genetic mutations, in his case a one-eared fox. We never learn why or how these creatures occur; they're clearly a repressed population. This is lively, with some memorable characters, but the plotting is shaky and often perfunctory, and the world-building is woefully underdeveloped. A sequel seems likely. B
  mwalkerlib | Oct 15, 2017 |
This story opens in the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle. The inmates of this prison-like orphanage are all 'groundlings'; beings that are half human, half animal and a one-eared fox groundling is the protagonist. Initially nameless, he is dubbed Arthur by Trinket, the half bird groundling he befriends. When the two escape from the Home, it is the start of a journey through a Dickensian, steampunk world in search of Arthur's destiny and Trinket's family. Whilst looking for his destiny, Arthur stumbles upon a plot to rid the world of music - a plot instigated by his nemesis, Miss Carbunckle.

This story is fairytale-like and the illustrations give it an old-fashioned feel. The language is rich and layered with meaning, making this more suitable for older readers. However, this story will perhaps shine most as a read-aloud that would be enjoyed by both those hearing and the adult reading it. The world building is good but incomplete, however, as this seems to be the start of a series, this may be remedied in future volumes. There is also a movie being made of this story which will broaden its appeal to younger readers. ( )
  RefPenny | Oct 9, 2017 |
Today is the release date of a very unique, heartstring-tugging middle-grade fantasy tale, The Wonderling by Mira Bartók. I usually write my own summary but this one from Candlewick is just perfect --

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.

I got entirely lost in the richness of this story. It was perilous and sweet at the same time and I was never quite sure if things would come right in the end. Arthur was so pure and innocent, Trinket so brave and bold -- each time they were in danger, my heart sat in my throat until they got through. My absolute favorite thing about this story though was that there were characters who were not what you expected them to be. More than one creature that seemed scary or dishonest turned out to be helpful or friendly, a perfect modern lesson to reinforce the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover". (Although, take a look at this cover! Anyone could tell that this book would be wonderful, right?)

http://webereading.com/2017/09/new-release-wonderling-and-ripxii-3.html ( )
  klpm | Sep 26, 2017 |
Throughout this book I kept rooting for “Number 13” (the fox). Ordinarily, this would not be a book I was drawn to given the fantasy-type world in which it surrounds, however, even with my uncreative mind I was able to easily follow along and picture all the characters and their adventures in my mind. An added benefit was that the author included such AMAZING illustrations throughout the book, I found myself excited to come across the next illustration as they tied into the plot of the book and helped the reader to picture the characters as the author intended.

Ultimately, I found myself cheering for “Number 13,” as I couldn’t put the book down hoping he conquered his quest successfully.

For the full review, visit: https://fortheloveofthepageblog.wordpress.com/ ( )
  JillRey | Sep 19, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What a lovely and touching book. This is a beautifully written book that has the feeling of an ancient fairy tale. It is very sweet, and very magical, but it is also pretty harrowing. The human-animal hybrids who are the main characters here are slaves in the Dickensian world that Bartok has drawn with such detail. Bartok gives us a strong sense of how horribly these "groundlings" are treated by humans, and she also gives us a strong sense of their will to survive and even be happy, in spite of their horrifying circumstances. This is a humane, lovely, and magical book. ( )
  vanderschloot | Sep 12, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0763691216, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 17 Apr 2017 14:15:44 -0400)

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