Tony DiTerlizzi, the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles and illustrator of a lot of other children’s picture books, has this upcoming middle-grade fantasy novel, The Search for WondLa. I got an advance reader copy, which my wife read in a weekend (and this is a 460-page book) and gave it high praise. The proof copy, however, doesn’t include all the illustrations, so I’m eager to see the final book. I did get a little sketchbook sampler at Comic-Con which looks very promising. There will also be three augmented reality images which will work with your webcam and browser for some interesting 3-D effects, but that will also have to wait until the book comes out.
Here’s my wife’s take on it:
The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi is the coming-of-age story of Eva Nine, a girl who has spent her entire life thus far in an underground sanctuary. She has never known another human; rather, her guardian and companion is MUTHR, an artificial-intelligence robot who, like all good mothers, is driving twelve-year-old Eva absolutely crazy. Just as Eva thinks she can’t stand another day of MUTHR’s nagging, her home is destroyed by a mysterious hunter who wants her dead. Eva is driven alone to the surface, where she discovers a world far more strange and dangerous than MUTHR’s tutorials about poisonous Earth snakes have prepared her for. Eva decides to fight for her life and continue her journey, drawing inspiration and courage from her “WondLa,” a tiny scrap of paper on which only those inscrutable letters can be seen, but which seems to depict something Eva desires more than anything: a human family.
DiTerlizzi has a unique and delightful ear for creating strange words and language (I’m familiar with it from his kids’ book, G Is for One Gzonk, which my three-year-old adores). I love that he’s created a fascinating sci-fi story about a young girl making hard decisions and proving her courage and resilience. There are just a few scenes that are gruesome enough to keep me from sharing this book with my second-grader just yet, but as soon as she’s old enough for Harry Potter #4, we’ll break out this one too.
You can pre-order The Search for WondLa, which comes out in a few weeks.
Wired: DiTerlizzi’s talent for creature-illustration gets a massive world to play in.
Tired: My attempt at trying out the one augmented reality image crashed my browser a couple times, so I gave up for now.