The Wonderling by Mira Bartok

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Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406370645
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Welcome to the home for wayward and misbegotten creatures, run by the evil Miss Carbunkle, cunning villainess, who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. For the Wonderling, an innocent, one-eared 'groundling' - a mix of fox and boy - the Home is all he has ever known. But when unexpected courage leads him to protect a young bird groundling, Trinket, from being bullied, she in return gives the Wonderling two incredible gifts: a real name - Arthur, like the good king in the old stories - and a best friend. With the help of an ingenious invention by Trinket, the two friends escape from the Home and embark on an extraordinary quest into the wider world and down the path of Arthur's true destiny.
This is a beautiful story where two very different creatures are drawn together out of need and end up developing a strong bond where they are searching for their destiny beyond the walls of the awful orphanage. Bartok has cleverly incorporated humans, regular animals and the hybrid human/animals named 'groundlings'. She uses rich descriptive language that creates a magical mood where even the smallest details seem important. Arthur is an extremely likeable main character with a kind heart. He is extremely brave and desperately searches for anything beautiful or good that he can cling to.
The book is absolutely beautiful, with quaint pictures interspersed throughout the pages. A true masterpiece that will be a must for the library collection. As some of the storyline can be somewhat dark, I would recommend the book for more mature readers, 10 years old and up.
Kathryn Schumacher