About the book | About the author | Q&A with the author | Early book buzz | Mira on The Wonderling | Sneak peek | Special giveaway
‘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
About the book
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.
The extraordinary debut illustrated novel The Wonderling will be published by Walker Books on 1 October 2017.
About the author
Mira Bartók is a writer and artist whose New York Times bestselling memoir, The Memory Palace, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. The Wonderling is her first novel for young readers, with the film rights sold to Fox 2000 before the manuscript was even completed.
Q&A with the author
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.
Early book buzz
‘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)
Mira on The Wonderling
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.