Independent reviewers can be asked to review some strange and wonderful works, but Wonderworld is the most unusual independent project to cross my desk. I’m not even sure what to call it: there is a book, but there is also a YouTube video, and an audio-book musical, and songs to be downloaded from iTunes. And it’s all – well – wonderful.
Wonderworld is the story of Max, a boy who has difficulty relating to the real world. He prefers his fantasy world, the world he creates in his art. Max could be a lot of the students I used to work with: maybe he has an anxiety disorder, maybe he is on the autism spectrum, maybe he’s just really shy, but it doesn’t really matter. Authors/composers/artists Brett Scheiber and Tree (aka the musical duo Arcanum) and illustrator Simona Poteska have meshed words, music and art to bring Max and his difficulties to life in a way that children and adults can both understand. The story isn’t told in a complicated way (but neither are Max’s fears and feelings diminished); the songs have straightforward messages and are easy to learn, but aren’t cutsey children’s songs, and the artwork captures Max and his fears in style that is neither too dark nor too upbeat, but that fits the mood of the story perfectly.
This is a story about overcoming fears and obstacles, about believing in yourself and your talents. It could be argued that this process is simplified in Wonderworld, but no more so than the story of the redeeming power of faith and love is simplified in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Were I still working in education, I can think of a dozen situations where I’d have used Wonderworld in both classroom and individual situations.
Wonderworld has been produced with artistic integrity and professionalism. I’d also say it’s been produced with great love and deep empathy. I’m giving it 5 stars.
You can watch Wonderworld on YouTube, and download the audiobook musical and each individual song (including instrumentals) on iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp. The hard cover, full colour book is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Wonderworld-The-Musical.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.