Monday, September 17, 2012

MMGM: WONDER by R.J. Palacio

Author: R.J. Palacio
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (a Random House imprint)
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Number of Pages: 313 pages
Source of Book: Bought a hardcover & got a signed copy from publisher at ALA
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
There's just something so powerful about what R.J. Palacio has created with WONDER. The world of upper elementary and middle school teachers and librarians has been all abuzz about this book since February, and I knew it was a book I would have to read, but I also knew it would be a book that I would likely want to use for a read aloud with my students, so I held off until close to going back to school so it would be fresh in my mind. If you still haven't gotten to it yet, I urge you to do so as soon as you can because this is one of those books that must be read and shared with children and teens. Even if you don't have or work with kids, read it, and share it with someone who does. This is one of those titles that exemplified for me the power of Twitter - I may not have known about it if it wasn't for my Personal Learning Network out there, and I am so thankful that I have.

WONDER is a book that makes you think. It brings up the hidden parts of all of us that you may be ashamed of, brings it to light, and helps you to know how to do it better. It's about acceptance and understanding. It's about kind. It's about relationships. It's about family and parents and siblings and friendships and school and teachers and students and principals and how all of those people interact to create someone's experience. It highlights the importance of adult interactions with children. It highlights the importance of both verbal and non-verbal behaviors and how those can impact someone's view of others and one's self. It highlights our fears and our hopes and our dreams. It makes you think and leaves you a better person than when you entered this story. It's the wonder of WONDER (#wonderofwonder).

I could get into some of the specifics of this book. The way Palacio chose to write so splendidly and honestly in Auggie's voice. The way Auggie helps us to see inside the mind of someone we may have known or seen in the past, and what our actions may have meant to them. The way the various voices that get to tell this story enhance the reader's experience so much. The way the use of emails and letters in certain parts highlights important moments in the story. The way Palacio flawlessly interweaves the multiple storylines and characters' experiences to create this complete book. The way that this realistic story can appeal to upper elementary students, middle school students, high school students, and adults. The way it opens a readers' eyes to actions and thoughts that may be hard to be honest about. The way it creates precepts for life that could make all the difference. But the experience of this book is about so much more than that. It's about the human experience, and how we can all be better at it.

I can only be thankful that so many students will be experiencing WONDER in their classrooms this year. I can only be thankful that R.J. Palacio's story may make those children take a second to think differently about bullying, and even more than that, their simpler interactions with others. I can only be thankful that the message to Choose Kind is permeating the world of education this year. We can only hope that more people get this message and pass it on, and the way to start is by sharing this book with others. So I encourage you to read WONDER, to pass it along to others, and to always choose kind.


  1. This book is so, so special. It should be read aloud in every classroom and in every home. It teaches us about so many parts of life.

  2. I must say this book is ver, very popular among MMGM participants. :)
    Thanks to your review I've bumped it up my tbr list.

  3. Great book! I was a little thrown when the 1st person POV switched away from Auggie, but agree that it added to the overall telling of the story.

  4. I still haven't gotten to this book. Definitely high up on the TBR list!

  5. I have read and blogged about this book. It deserves to win all kinds of awards. Glad you loved it too!

  6. I really enjoyed this book. Yes, the POV switching jarred me at first, but each character sucked me into their story.

    Glad to find your blog, too!