Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder9780375869020_p0_v2_s260x420Wonder

R.J. Palacio, Author

Random House Children’s Books, Fiction, 2012

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes:  Abnormalities, Differences, Friendship, Middle School, Self-esteem

Opening: “I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid.  I mean, sure, I do ordinary things.  I eat ice cream.  I ride my bike.  I play ball.  I have an XBox.  Stuff like that makes me ordinary, I guess.  And, I feel ordinary.  Inside.  But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds.  I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.” 

Synopsis:  August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a rare facial deformity.  He has undergone many surgeries in his young life. He has dealt with people staring at him and rushing away in horror his 10 young years.  His mother has homeschooled August to protect him, but he’s about to start fifth grade,  His parents have taken a bold step and have enrolled him in Beecher Prep.  Although Auggie has learned to brace himself, he’s not happy about going to middle school.   It’s hard enough to be the new kid on the block.   But facing your classmates knowing there will be rejection, ridicule and cruelty is a lot to ask of any child.  The principal asks three students to be friends with Auggie and show him the ropes.  Among the three, Jack is the only true friend who really enjoys being with Auggie.  There are a few other kids who gather around to support Auggie.  Only Julian, the popular kid and class bully, turns the rest of the class against Auggie and Jack.  But Jack and Auggie will have their day when friendship  and kindness rule.

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What I like about this book:  Palacio has written a gripping story that is both heartbreaking and funny.  The chapters are short and are told in first-person from the viewpoint of each child who interacts with Auggie — which is very raw and revealing.  The author has done an excellent job of getting into the mind of each of his characters and letting readers experience their feelings and reactions.  We also see how Auggie grows and builds inner strength and courage.   Wonder is an excellent book to use in the classroom and encourage kids to talk about differences — visible or invisible.  Wonder has been named the by the New York Times as one of the Top Ten Notable Children’s Books for 2012.

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About Patricia Tiltonhttp://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

32 thoughts on “Wonder by R. J. Palacio

  1. This was my favorite middle grade this year, Pat. I think it is an incredible book, that may well win many awards. Palacio also pulls off the five-person POV exceptionally well!

  2. I attended a gathering of children, parents, teachers and administrators after a week during which 4,000 children had gone to see the film Bully (we helped pay for transportation for around 100 kids). It was an amazing event, with the best part being one of the kids featured in the film got to speak with those who had gathered and share more of his story. At the end of the event the organizers handed out copies of Wonder, announcing that it was their goal to have every child in San Mateo County read the book in the coming year. I had been gifted with a copy of that very same book that afternoon. When I went home that night I began to read and did not put it down until I had finished it. By far it is one of the best books I have ever read, and it deals with a very complex issue in a powerfully impactful way.

    Augie is charming, funny, strong, and quirky and you can absolutely feel the pain he goes through as well as the dignity he manages to carry with him. Getting to view the same events he’s experiencing through the eyes of the other people in his life, though, is what’s most illuminating.

    This is a must-read book for children AND adults and richly deserves the praise it has garnered already. Thanks Pat for sharing this book with us all.

    • Craig,
      Thank you for sharing such a wonderful event. I hadn’t heard of the film the “Bully.” I love that so many kids participated and walked away with a copy of this book. You have a very good school system in Mateo County. I think Auggie is symbolic of all children with differences. Should be in evey classroom and required of all 5th graders. Wonder is among my very favorite books this years.

  3. This book is on my wish list to read! We actually have a couple of kids at my school who are much like Auggie. They mostly do pretty well in elementary school but I worry about them when they move on to middle school.

    • Younger children are so much more caring and accepting. The transition to middle school is hard enough, but add a disability and they become targets. I hope the kids in your school do well.

  4. I love this book! :) One of my favorite quotes from Wonder is:
    “You know Star Wars stuff?” “Man, I practically invented Star Wars stuff!” ;) (when Auggie gets his hearing aid(s))
    I like how the book is told from different people’s points of view.

  5. Patricia…I have nominated you for the Blog Of The Year Award 2012. There is no obligation to participate or do anything other than accept. You deserve this truly. Please visit me to view.

  6. What an excellent book! The change in POV is such a great idea! Auggie is awesome.

    BTW, I know an author who will send you a PDF or another copy of her picture book. (I reviewed it yesterday) She just wants a review. She’s trying to get the word out. Interested? Let me know.

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