“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Search for Wondla • Middle-grade fiction

The Search for Wondla
written and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Available nowSimon and Schuster Ages 10 and up 
The New York Times bestseller from the fantastical imagination that brought you The Spiderwick Chronicles.
Story: When a marauder destroys the underground sanctuary that Eva Nine was raised in by the robot Muthr, the twelve-year-year-old girl is forced to flee aboveground. Eva Nine is searching for anyone else like her, for she knows that other humans exist, because of an item she treasures—a scrap of cardboard on which is depicted a young girl, an adult, and a robot, with the strange word, "WondLa." Tony DiTerlizzi honors traditional children's literature in this totally original space age adventure: one that is as complex as an alien planet, but as simple as a child's wish for a place to belong.

Breathtaking two-color illustrations throughout reveal another dimension of Tony DiTerlizzi's vision, and, for those readers with a webcam, the book also features Augmented Reality in several places, revealing additional information about Eva Nine's world.

Story behind the story: Tony diTerlizzi writes about the power of place, character, and adventure:  "As a kid who loved classics like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan and Wendy, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I wondered why it was that I returned to these timeless tales again and again throughout my life. The answer is easy: There lies magic between those pages, places I loved visiting when I was ten years-old that I still love returning to today.

What if I could conjure up a story in the same spirit? A story that the ten-year-old Tony would have loved and that the forty-year-old Tony has the ability to create?

First, I’d make the hero a heroine—a strong and clever spirit drawn from some of my favorite protagonists like Dorothy Gale, Wendy Darling, and Alice. And, like those characters, I’d have her cope with problems children can relate to: Some are timeless, such as dealing with parents and finding one’s place in the world; others more timely such as society’s growing reliance on technology to help us.

Next, I’d create a wonderworld for my heroine to have her adventures in. A setting both familiar and strange that I’d hope readers would enjoy exploring. I’d populate it with characters whose personalities may seem familiar but who are housed in a more science-fiction cast, such as robots, aliens, and an array of bizarre otherworldly life-forms. This was how I began to imagine the world of Eva Nine and her journey in The Search for WondLa.

Though Eva utilizes futuristic technology as she interacts with all manner of aliens, her story is still a fairy tale at its heart. A fairy tale of compassion and family. A fairy tale of danger and adventure. A fairy tale for the twenty-first century."

Take a peek at Chapter 1


dmuldawer said...

Search for Wondla arrived in the mail yesterday and I couldn't put it down.

Based in a futuristic society, Eva is the sole human survivor on Earth. She grows up in an underground cavern, but is forced into a strange and frightening world when her sanctuary is breeched and her life is threatened.

Eva is a likeable character with enough sassiness and rebellion to add some spice to her adventures. She uses her own wit to escape perilous situations and shows courage and loyalty to her friends.

That said, there are many things that are frustrating about reading the Search for Wondla, mostly having to do with unanswered questions.

Why is Eva the only human on this planet? What happened to destroy Earth? Where did all these new creatures come from? Where does her robot mother get food supplies? Why is it that the Omnipod and sanctuary retain memories of the original Earth but not of the changes on the planet? Who is the boy who comes at the end of the book and where is home for humanity?

I'm hoping these questions are answered in books two and three because finishing the book with so many questions was like hearing Shave and a Haircut without the Two Bits.

In terms of age and sex, it seems that Search for Wondla would appeal mostly to third to sixth graders and mostly to girls. Eva is a strong character and the other characters shrink into insignificance besides her.

There is much to enjoy in Search for Wondla, and most readers will probably finish the book hungering for more.

Picnic Basket Rating: 5

Lindsay Horne said...

I received this book in the mail, took it to school so that I could start it, and it was immediately pulled off my table by a student (6th grade) who said "I really want to read this!" I made a deal - she can read it first, but she has to write a book review that I can post on here...so I will post both of ours as soon as I can get my hands on it!

Leslie N. said...

Wow. The book was great! I finished it in two days (I had to teach instead of read) and my daughter immediately picked it up. She is in second grade and has asked some questions dealing with how Eve got to this planet and why the hunter wants her. I have answered with " It's a trilogy, maybe it's in the next book.". I will pass it on to one Of my 5th grade ELLs and see what they think next. Can't wait to see book two!

Katharine H said...

This book started off a little too far out there for me, but quickly grabbed my attention. If I had had the time, I would have finished it in just a couple of days, just because I had to keep reading to find out answers. As others have said, I hope more answers are found in the other books of the trilogy.

I did find it somewhat difficult to keep track of all of the different types of organisms that are included. There were so many new species that it was slightly overwhelming to me, though students can usually imagine them much more easily than adults.

Some of the futuristic inventions were very creative as well.

I have also passed it on to a student and can't wait to see what she says.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Carol said...

I don't usually read books that are this mix of science fiction and fantasy. As I began to read it, it kept my interest and I find the vivid language and visualization opportunities an added bonus. Unlike some of the other viewers, I didn't find myself questioning what I didn't know an what wasn't being answered for me, rather I think I felt a sense of honesty and authenticity being confused and not finding clarity. I will purchase this book for the K-8 library and recommend it to readers who like fantasy and series. A good strong female character that will appeal to boy and girl readers alike.


EShay said...

It took me a bit to get into this one. It was a fast read and as I approached the end I was hooked. The last 50 pages made it all worthwhile.
I enjoyed the relationships between Muthr, Eva, and her new friends. The gadgets and different lifestyle were entertaining aspects of the book.
I thought the different types of creatures might be difficult to keep track of for middle graders.
I believe all young people search for their Wondla and this book may help that age range understand that need. I am truly excited about reading book two.
I give it a 4 out of 5.

juli said...

When we finished our last read aloud I presented the Search for Wondla as a next possible choice. The kids picked it and haven't been disappointed yet. Both my boys and girls are fascinated by the characters and situations in the book. I know they can keep better track of it than I can. I am usually not a fantasy/sci fic reader, but I do try to expose my students to all genres. This book may certainly help me change my mind. I love the strong main character, Eva. Having finished ahead of them I have many questions, but they are just wrapped up in the story and can't wait to see what happens next.

I give it a 5!

5th grade teacher

Anonymous said...

This book drew attention just sitting on my desk! Great cover presentation!! It is fantasy/science fiction which has not always interested me. However, I do like to expose children to many different genres. This book was exciting and captivated everyone's attention...boys and girls. All are anxious for the next book in the trilogy. Thank you Tony DiTerlizzi for an outstanding story! I rate this book 5/5...get it! (It is also accelerated reader for those who use that program :) )

M. Battista said...

I love the world the author has created and I truly cared about the characters. My criticism is that I felt bogged down with too many descriptions. The detailed illustrations depicted the planet perfectly. The excessive wordy descriptions actually took away from the plot of the story. The entire book was really just a set up for the action that will take place in the next installment. I felt a little cheated by that. Too many series these days introduce a new world in Book 1 and nothing really happens until Book 2 or 3. And if Eva's blue friend is called "lanky" just one more time... All in all, I did enjoy it. I just wanted fewer descriptions and more action.

Picnic Rating: 3

Denair Elementary School
Denair, CA