Wonder by R.J. Palacio (updated!)

Your assignment: find and read this book.

I had been hearing all over the internet that Wonder was The Book to Read this year.  I thought I had ordered it online, but it wasn’t in the box, so I guess I somehow forgot to add it to my cart.  Who runs off to the bookstore on the same day they get a big book order in the mail? Me!  So of course, when I went to go pick it up at my local bookstore, it was sold out.  Thankfully the bookseller reminded me that I could (duh!) download it directly onto my Nook e-reader, so I ran home and did just that!  I will still have to buy a couple of copies for my classroom; hopefully it will come out in paperback soon.  If you don’t want to buy a hardback version, remember to check your local library where you can borrow it for FREE!

This book is about a boy named August Pullman.  Auggie is going into fifth grade.  Actually, Auggie is going to school for the first time ever.  He was born with some facial deformities and due to the many surgeries he has been through in his lifetime, he has always been homeschooled.  As a result, he’s a little timid and a little immature compared to other students his age.  He’s perfectly healthy and he’s perfectly smart, but his appearance can be shocking.  We all know how difficult it is to be the new kid at school, let alone at a middle school, but Auggie has his work cut out for him since people tend to draw away from him.  The principal plans ahead for this transition and asks some of the other students to meet up and give Auggie a tour of the school before classes start.  Here he meets Jack, Julian, and Charlotte, so at least he knows a few people to begin the year.  (His principal is a great character, very practical, wise, and very calming.)  Unfortunately, kids are not always so nice to each other, and Auggie is left to figure out who his true friends are after a heartbreaking betrayal by someone he thought was on his side.

Auggie has a mom and a dad who are nervous to send him off to school after all this time. I thought they were the perfect combination of worried, supportive, and loving.  They knew it was time to let Auggie go off on his own and let him have his own adventures, but were present enough so that Auggie knew he would always have them for backup if he needed help.  He also has a sister named Olivia.  She is in high school and also starting to find her own path.  She loves Auggie with all of her heart, but at her new school, nobody knows her as “the girl with the deformed little brother.”  This new freedom is exciting, but it also makes her a little bit sad.  She takes over as one of the narrators of the book, followed by her boyfriend, and a couple of other characters.  It is in these chapters that the reader gets to piece together the whole story, as multiple perspectives combine.  There is a bully that torments Auggie throughout the book, and an encounter with some kids from another school, but for me the saddest case of bullying comes from another parent at the school who tries to get Auggie removed from his private school.

This book made me cry at points, but not at the sad parts.  (Okay, maybe one sad part.)  I was very uplifted by the compassion people were able to show to Auggie and that made me cry happy tears.  People ARE generally good to each other and everyone can make a big difference to another person through very small acts.  The author uses a quote in the book:

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Choose kind.

That’s it, that’s all you have to do.  This has spun off into its own webpage where you can join and sign a pledge to choose kind.  If you have a story to tell, you can share it anonymously, too.  Just click the banner below to find out more!

If you DO read this, know that the author was inspired by a true thing that happened to her as a mom.  The part with the kids eating ice cream?  That is her story and she knew she needed to do better, to make it better, and so she wrote this book.  Here is her webpage as well–  http://rjpalacio.com/book.html

This book is a great read aloud for families to share because it brings up so many questions for discussion.  I think this might be the next book I buy as a class set for school, too.  Wonder has an AR level of 4.8 and is worth 11 points.

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