A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's a lot to love in The Wonderling, author-illustrator Mira Bartok's first book for young readers and the first installment in a new fantasy series. There's darkness and scary stuff as young hero Arthur, a "groundling" (human-animal hybrid) with a fox's head, one ear, and a human-type body, makes his way through a richly imagined steampunk world from creepy orphanage to creepier prison in quest of his roots. But readers unfazed by the monsters and situations of, say, Harry Potter should have no problem. Friendship literally changes the young hero's life, and there are strong messages of kindness, empathy, family, teamwork, using your talents, and helping others. Laughs, suspense, and heartwarming moments keep the pages turning and set up the next installment.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Stuck in the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures for as long as he can remember, young fox-headed, human-bodied Number Thirteen, aka THE WONDERLING, has a grim life and little hope, just like all the human-animal hybrid children imprisoned there and enslaved when they get old enough. But when, at age 11, he overcomes his terror long enough to save small, birdlike Trinket from cruel bullies, she dubs him Arthur, after the King, and opens up a world of possibilities. She's determined to escape and find her lost relatives in the city of Lumentown; he dreams of learning where he came from, but is he brave enough to join Trinket in her crazy scheme? And then what?
Is it any good?
Author-artist Mira Bartok's first work for young readers builds a rich, complicated world populated with creepy villains, Dickensian street urchins, and brave orphan heroes with unexpected talents. World-building takes a bit, but by the time Arthur (soon to be known as The Wonderling) and Trinket escape the horrible orphanage and begin their wild adventures, readers will be laughing, cheering them on, thrilling at their predicaments, and hoping they manage to stay out of trouble, or at least keep from being eaten.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about part human, part animal characters in The Wonderling. Why do you think that kind of character has been popular in stories for so many centuries? What other examples can you think of? Are the characters friendly or creepy?
What do you think the world would be like if there were no music, which one of the villains here is trying to accomplish?
If you suddenly found yourself all alone in a strange place, what would you do? How would you stay safe?
- Author: Mira Bartok
- Illustrator: Mira Bartok
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Candlewick
- Publication date: September 26, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 450
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.