The Wonderling (HB)
A woebegone creature without a name, referred to as Puddlehead, Plonker or Groundling but known as Number 13, has grown up in a horrible orphanage run by the bitter and nasty Miss Carbunkle. The Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures is not a place you would want to call home. Groundlings, creatures of all kinds, some part human, part creature, live a miserable existence which consists of school, where they are reminded that their sole purpose is "to toil and suffer in silence", and work in the factory - a factory where Miss Carbunkle is up to some kind of no good. The Wonderling, as he will be known later, is a shy, gentle fellow, part fox, part dog, part human, with one ear, who stutters and tries to remain unnoticed. One day he sees a group of bullies tormenting a small creature and, despite his terror, steps in to rescue the bird-like Trinket. Trinket and the Wonderling become firm friends. Trinket, an enterprising and mechanically minded young bird, gives the foxy groundling his first name, Arthur. She's determined to escape the orphanage - no easy task with its fortifications, boarded-up gates, mastiffs pulling on their chains, and sneaks among the orphans willing to relay information to the nasty Carbunkle or the snivelling Mr Sneezeweed. Escaping the orphanage will be just the first in the adventures for the pair. After a chaotic yet successful escape, Trinket and Arthur find themselves on the road, heading towards the city of Lumentown. Trinket must first go to the sea to track down her Uncle, while Arthur, with an address, a scrap of blue blanket and a gold key, heads towards the town alone. He makes friends and enemies on the way and falls into the path of the charming, not altogether trustworthy Quintus, who helps him to learn a trade. Arthur’s attempts to find his family or find out who he is become more and more distant, and when he's captured and sent under to a filthy and grim world to work in the mine it seems like it's the end of the line. Will he ever find Tintagel Road, see his friend Trinket again or find out who he really is? Running alongside Arthur’s story is the mystery of Miss Carbunkle. Why is she so nasty and what is she up to in her factory? Why does she wear those ridiculous red wigs and who is her twin sister? There is plenty of adventure and magic in this fantastical world, with nods to Dickens and elements of steampunk. Add in a map, adorable illustrations and compelling writing all packaged in a divine hardback, Mira Bartok’s The Wonderling: Songcatcher is a wonder. The next in the series will be called The Singing Tree.
In this extraordinary debut novel with its deft nod to Dickensian heroes and rogues, Mira Bart k 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.
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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 Bart k and has already been put into development for a major motion picture.
"Full of hope and heart, The Wonderling is one of those stories that feels as familiar - yet unique - as a friend. A triumphant debut." * Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of Girl of Ink and Stars *
"[...] a richly imaging fantasy adventure." * The Bookseller *
Mira Bartok is a writer and artist whose New York Times best-selling memoir, The Memory Palace: A Memoir, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. The Wonderling is her first novel for young readers. She lives in Western Massachusetts.