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‘Every now and then there is published a book that raises the bar in Children and Young Adult literature. This is such a book.’—Bob Docherty
Where did the idea for the story of The Wonderling begin?
Like most projects I do, The Wonderling came out of a confluence of ideas, experiences, dreams, and memories. But first and foremost, the character came from a sketch I made back in 2014 of a one-eared rabbit. Eventually he morphed into a fox because he looked too much like Matt Groening’s rabbit in his Life in Hell comic strip. But I was thinking of a one-eared character even before that, a creature who, despite his deficit, has an incredible ability to hear things from far away. In 2014 I was also rereading Dickens and was reading different versions of the Arthurian legends. The other thing that came into play here was I had just finished writing a very long, and not very interesting, nonfiction adult book on the history of wonder. After I stuck that book in a drawer, I decided that I didn’t want to write about wonder, but rather explore a character born in extreme deprivation who experiences wonder on a rather profound level.
What do you think about having the opportunity, so early in the life of this book, to be developing the story for a feature film as well?
I am still baffled by what happened early on with this book. It still seems unreal! I’m very excited about the prospect of it being turned into a film. I actually have imagined this book from the beginning as a movie. Not that I ever thought it would happen, but I saw it unfold like a film as I was writing it. But the book has always come first. My dream would be that it becomes a book that children, or adults, keep next to their beds at night.
One of the central themes of The Wonderling is that no matter one’s size, stature, or humble beginnings, they can make positive change in the world. How do you think this story will resonate with readers today who may feel powerless, threatened, or oppressed?
I always go back to that quote from the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: ‘Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.’ I thought about the line a lot when I wrote this story. I don’t know how my book will resonate with those who feel powerless, but I would hope that, at the very least, they won’t feel so alone. And that they will be able to find solace and courage within the pages.
What do you hope readers (of all ages) will take away from The Wonderling?
I’d be content if they took away a little wonder, a dash of hope, and a bit of empathy. I think we need those three things more than anything right now.
‘I fell in love with Arthur the minute I started this book. Loved his courage.’—Kylie Duncan, Harry Hartog Kotara
‘A one-eared foxling with a love of music is just one of the many charming characters in the richly woven world of The Wonderling.’—Rebecca Worth, Paperchain Bookstore Canberra
‘A stellar new contribution to fantasy that should find a place in every middle-grade collection.’—School Library Journal (starred review)
‘A gentle, modern-day nod to the children’s books of old, The Wonderling is a sweet, uplifting adventure.’—Shelf Awareness Pro
‘Bartók gives readers a richly imagined fantasy landscape to lose themselves in.’—Publishers Weekly
‘Bartók’s language is full of rich description and effulgent inventories of food and places … Bartók’s lovely, detailed illustrations and drawings throughout support the sense of enchantment in this imaginative adventure. Captivating and with great potential as a read-aloud.’—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Start the adventure right now! Read an excerpt of The Wonderling here.
Want to win a beautiful hardback of The Wonderling and a special, limited-edition wooden Wonderling bookmark? Email email@example.com with ‘The Wonderling’ in the subject line. The first five people to email will win!
Jacket and interior illustrations copyright © 2017 by Mira Bartók. Jacket design and typography by Iacopo Bruno. Published by Walker Books.
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