Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Wonder is a children’s novel by Raquel Jaramillo Palacio, under the pen name of R. J. Palacio, published on February 14, 2012.
Palacio was compelled to write Wonder after fearing that her younger son (who at the time was three years old) would react badly after noticing a girl with facial birth defects was sitting beside him as they were waiting in line to buy ice cream. Palacio attempted to remove her son from the situation so as not to upset her or the girl’s family but ended up only intensifying the situation. Natalie Merchant’s song “Wonder” had her realize that the incident could teach a valuable lesson. Palacio was inspired by Merchant’s lyrics and she began writing. The book has a released spin-off, 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Brown’s Book of Precepts. In August 2015, the book Auggie and Me was published. A film adaptation is set for release in 2017.
SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING JULIA ROBERTS, OWEN WILSON, AND JACOB TREMBLAY!
Over 5 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller WONDER and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.
The book that inspired the Choose Kind movement.
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
“Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year,” said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
August “Auggie” Pullman is a 10-year-old living in the fictional neighborhood of North River Heights in upper Manhattan. He has a rare medical facial deformity, which he refers to as “mandibulofacial dysostosis”,:129 more commonly known as Treacher Collins syndrome and a cleft palate. Due to numerous surgeries, Auggie had been home-schooled by his mother, but his parents decide to enroll him in Beecher Prep, a private school, for the start of middle school in the fall.
Auggie visits Beecher with his mother and meets the school director Mr. Tushman, along with three students: Jack Will, Julian Albans, and Charlotte Cody. Although extremely self-conscious and scared of being around kids his own age, Auggie gradually gets used to and even begins to enjoy school. He befriends Jack as well as a girl named Summer Dawson, who sits with him during lunch when no one else would. Julian, however, barely conceals his disgust at Auggie’s appearance, avoids him and often makes hurtful remarks. He bullies Auggie and hates him for the way he looks.
During Halloween, when Auggie didn’t feel like wearing his Boba Fett costume, he wore a “Bleeding Scream” costume instead. Unrecognized at school, he overhears Jack telling Julian in homeroom he would “kill himself” if he looked like Auggie. Feeling hurt and betrayed by Jack, Auggie wants to quit school, but his 15-year-old sister Via convinces him not to. Auggie confides the incident to Summer. Jack notices that Auggie has become quiet and distant; he asks Summer why, and though she won’t divulge the secret, she says “Bleeding Scream” as a hint. At first, he isn’t aware that Auggie heard of what he said and believes that he’s just avoiding him for no reason, so he starts avoiding him too. In December, however, Jack realizes Auggie had overheard what he said and realizes that he also heard that Jack was pretending to be friends with him, leaving Jack shocked. In science class, Auggie and Jack are partners for a project. When Julian asks the teacher if he could be Jack’s partner instead, Jack declines. But when Julian calls Auggie a “freak,” Jack punches Julian in the face in retaliation. As a result, Jack is suspended for two days for his actions. Knowing that Julian would get them both in trouble for bad-mouthing Auggie, Jack does not tell Mr. Tushman what happened. Julian’s mother says that Auggie does not belong in Beecher Prep, as it is not an “inclusion school”, but Mr. Tushman and everyone else disagrees with her. Jack sincerely apologizes to Auggie, saying he didn’t mean to say the stuff he said about him, and they become friends again.
Throughout the rest of the school year, Auggie faces many obstacles, mostly due to ringleader Julian encouraging his “gang” to avoid and isolate Auggie and Jack. Julian puts mean notes in Auggie and Jack’s locker; Auggie and Jack write back in defense. However, things begin to change during a class overnight Nature Reserve camping trip when Auggie and Jack are attacked by seventh-grade students from another school who insult Auggie. Not only does Jack defend Auggie, but several other classmates: Miles Noury, Henry Joplin, and Amos Conti (formerly part of Julian’s crowd) come to his defence and befriend him.
At the graduation ceremony, Auggie is awarded the “Henry Ward Beecher medal” which “honors students who have been notable or exemplary in certain areas throughout the school year.”:303 He gets a standing ovation, takes pictures with everyone (something he had always refused to do) and goes back to his house for a party to celebrate. The book ends with his mother whispering in his ear, “You really are a wonder, Auggie.”
Amazon Best Books of the Month for Kids, February 2012: Wonder is a rare gem of a novel–beautifully written and populated by characters who linger in your memory and heart. August Pullman is a 10-year-old boy who likes Star Wars and Xbox, ordinary except for his jarring facial anomalies. Homeschooled all his life, August heads to public school for fifth grade and he is not the only one changed by the experience–something we learn about first-hand through the narratives of those who orbit his world. August’s internal dialogue and interactions with students and family ring true, and though remarkably courageous he comes across as a sweet, funny boy who wants the same things others want: friendship, understanding, and the freedom to be himself. “It is only with one’s heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” From The Little Prince and R.J. Palacio’s remarkable novel, Wonder.–Seira Wilson
From School Library Journal
August, nicknamed Auggie, is a 10-year-old with a facial deformity that causes others to avoid and even shun him. When he enters a mainstream school, Auggie must learn to cope with difficult new situations and new people. The narrative is told from the perspectives of Auggie, his new friends, his sister, and her boyfriend. Steele’s Auggie is raspy, quick, and delivered in a conversational tone, while Rudd and Podehl give a full range of vocal performances that bring the remaining characters to full light. α(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. –This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
R. J. PALACIO lives in NYC with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For more than twenty years, she was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting for the perfect time in her life to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made R. J. realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. She did not design the cover, but she sure does love it.
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