Wonderworld: The Musical, by Brett Schieber & Tree: A Review

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.

How Stories Come to Be

If you’ve read my profile on this or other sites, (or if you read the post called Landscape and Story I posted a few days ago) you will know that I describe myself as (among other things) a part-time student of archaeology.  Currently I’m in the middle of an on-line course from the University of Exeter called “Landscape Archeology I”.  This week’s assignment was to look at what types of environmental archaeological evidence – things like animal bones, soil and water micro-organisms, wood – can be used to interpret either a castle or monastery site.

My response to the assignment was to write a brief story about a fictional monastery and point out all the things we knew about this monastery because of the archaeological evidence, which was fun and more interesting for me than just making a chart or list.  However…now this fictional monastery has a life of its own in my writer’s brain, and doesn’t want to go away.  It wants to tell its story more fully.

It doesn’t fit into the series I’m writing right now, but it may just fit into another planned novel/novel series. Or maybe it will be something completely new.  I don’t know yet.  I’m hoping I can use it for further assignments for the course, but regardless, it is now a real, dynamic place inside my mind, and another dimension of my created landscape(s) has made itself evident.  Now I have to see where it takes me.