Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Wonderling

Cover image for     Hybrid animals trapped in a horrible orphanage. A wicked woman with a high, swirly red wig in charge of the whole place. Toil, trouble, endless discipline and no hope, no playing games, no poetry or music or art.Thin gruel for breakfast, and watered down pea soup for dinner. How could you stand it for long? As the reader of The Wonderling, you can, though it won't be pretty.
   A creature who may be a deer, a rabbit or a hybrid who wears a metal pendant with the number 13 is our protagonist. He works tirelessly with other creatures producing small metal objects that look like beetles, He has no friends, really, until a tiny bird called Trinket flies over the wall of the Home where he lives in captivity. Trinket tells him there's a way out. And his real name is Arthur, a name that inspires admiration despite his awful circumstances.
   The plot rolls on like a strange mix-up of Steampunk Science Fiction and animal fable, with a hint of Dickens' Oliver Twist. It's dark, but not without hope. It's beautifully written, with black and white illustrations included. We empathize with Arthur and his haunted memories of a song. We want the characters to be free. This is definitely not Charlotte's Web. However, with animals as the central characters, we can feel the metaphor of the heavy worldly influences that reduce people and other living beings to things in a master plan.Think of an industrial version of Animal Farm, for younger readers. You may also want to read Audrey:Cow, by Dan Bar-El, about a cow who seeks to free herself from the eventual visit to the abattoir.

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