Setting Wonder Free


32 pages
ISBN 1-55037-238-6
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Jirina Marton
Reviewed by Kelly L. Green

Kelly L. Green is co-author of The Ethical Shopper’s Guide to Canadian
Supermarket Products and associate editor of the Canadian Book Review


Wonder was a horse, a rocking horse, that is, who lived in a little
girl’s basement. After seven years, nobody rode him much anymore, and
he was always getting in the way. The little girl’s mother thought
that maybe it was time to find Wonder a new home, but the little girl
was still attached to him and didn’t want him going to “some kid
downtown.” The little girl decided that they should set Wonder free,
right next to the house. And guess what! Soon a little child happened to
see him from the road and asked to ride him. Of course, this is the
child with whom he is meant to be. Happy Wonder, saved from the torture
of life downtown (maybe even in an apartment).

In addition to being boring, cloying, and insulting to children who
happen to live in an urban setting, this book covers territory already
mined much more skilfully in a true classic of children’s literature,
The Velveteen Rabbit. That book, also the tale of a toy that has served
its purpose in a child’s life and moved on, has great meaning for both
child and adult. Setting Wonder Free does not, partly because it is not
an appropriate story for the younger picture-book crowd. Its language
and length gear it toward 3- to 5-year-old children, who are too young
to understand the sense of loss that comes with giving up a favorite old
toy. In addition, the prose is flat, pedestrian, and uninspired.

Jirina Marton’s artful illustrations, creamy and subdued, are
definitely the best feature of this book. Her people leave something to
be desired, however, as the same expression drapes every face but one in
the entire book. Not a first-choice purchase.


Barnes, Maryke., “Setting Wonder Free,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,