Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Plot Summary:
Auggie (August) really wants to go to school with kids his own age, but that won't happen because he doesn't look like the other kids. Born with facial deformities, Auggie has always dreamed of being normal because normal is average and normal is "nothing special." When Auggie's parents tell him that he has been accepted Beecher Preparatory, Auggie is terrified of the idea that he will go to school with kids he doesn't know; according to Auggie, it was one thing to meet kids when he was much younger since they didn't know any better, but, now, kids will know that he is different, which means he will be open to ridicule. Although Auggie and his father are against it, Auggie's mother believes it will be good for him since she is terrible at fractions and it's time that he gives middle school a chance and make new friends. Reluctantly, Auggie agrees to meet with the principal (Mr. Tushman), but he wasn't counting on a tour and meeting students from his class. Although everyone seemed really nice, Auggie knew they were freaked out about his face except for Jack Will. Charlotte was really helpful, but it was Jack Will who seemed genuine. When the first day of school arrived, Auggie was nervous and he new that people would react to his appearance so he kept to himself until Summer joined him at his empty lunch table. Is it possible that there are kids out there who don't mind his face? Even Jack Will joined them at their table so Auggie, for the first time in his life, had friends. Told from alternating point of views between Auggie, Jack Will, Via, and her friend, Justin, readers will learn how Auggie is not just special because of what he looks like, but how he makes people feel and just how challenging that can be for those who torn between wanting to be his friend, but are worried about what others will think.

Critical Evaluation:
What makes this story amazing is that it's a story for everyone. All of us, at one time or another, have known, or seen, people like Auggie and Julian. I have an older brother who has a learning disability so when Julian, and company, would say awful things about Auggie I wanted to throw the book across the room because I was soooo mad! I also wanted to cry my eyes out because all Auggie has ever wanted is to be normal, but, what also angers me, is that he IS NORMAL! This story conveys how fear of the unknown can have a very negative effect on people, especially when we don't teach our children to accept people for who they are and not what they look like. Honestly, who cares that Auggie's face is different, but, to a child, this is a life changing experience. If readers have the opportunity to check out, or buy, the special edition of Wonder (that has a chapter from Julian's point of view) it makes sense why he behaves that he does. However, his bullying is not at all acceptable and it's obvious where it comes from when his own mother demands the expulsion of Mr. Tushman for not following "protocol" in regards to Auggie's admission into Beecher Prep. Moreover, when Julian's mother said that Beecher Prep was not an inclusion school, I wanted to ring her neck. Another reason why this book is amazing is that Auggie has the most amazing support system, which, sadly, not all kids (like Auggie) have. Even with Via's outburst, she realizes that Auggie needs his family because everyone is so quick to reject him because of his looks. Lastly, I loved the dynamics of Auggie's friends and how most of the kids had evolved after the "incident" and how they got tired of Julian harrasing Jack and Auggie. This is a great story where adults and children can come together to not only talk about real tough issues like bullying, and tolerance, it is also about teaching, and learning, the power of empathy and kindness. This book is timeless and I can't wait to read it to my own children some day.

Information about the Author:
According to the author's website:
I live in NYC with my husband, two sons, and two dogs. For many years, I was an art director and book jacket designer, designing covers for countless well-known and not so well-known writers in every genre of fiction and nonfiction. I always wanted to write, though. I kept waiting for the perfect time in my life to start writing, but after more than twenty years of designing book jackets for other people, I realized that the perfect time would never really present itself. It's never the perfect time to start writing a book. So I  decided to just go for it. Wonder is my first novel. And no, I didn't design the cover, but I sure do love it.

Tween Fiction, Tween Issues

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 5 & up

Books Similar to Wonder:
  •  The One and Only Ivan by Kathryn Applegate
  •  Freak the Might by Rodman Philbrick

Awards & Recognition:

"Wonder is essentially ... a wonder. It's well-written, engaging, and so much fun to read that the pages almost turn themselves. More than that, Wonder touches the heart in the most life-affirming, unexpected ways, delivering in August Pullman a character whom readers will remember forever. Do yourself a favor and read this book – your life will be better for it." - Nicholas Sparks, #1 New York Times bestselling author, October 10, 2012:
"Wonder is the best kids' book of the year."

Entertainment Weekly, February 17, 2012, The Top 10 Things We Love This Week:
"In a wonder of a debut, Palacio has written a crackling page-turner filled with characters you can't help but root for."

The New York Times, April 8, 2012:
"Rich and memorable...It's Auggie and the rest of the children who are the real heart of 'Wonder,' and Palacio captures the voices of girls and boys, fifth graders and teenagers, with equal skill."

The Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2012:
"What makes R.J. Palacio's debut novel so remarkable, and so lovely, is the uncommon generosity with which she tells Auggie's story…The result is a beautiful, funny and sometimes sob-making story of quiet transformation.”

The Huffington Post,
March 1, 2012:
"It's in the bigger themes that Palacio's writing shines. This book is a glorious exploration of the nature of friendship, tenacity, fear, and most importantly, kindness."
January 2013: "I think every mother and father would be better for having read it. Auggie's parents -- who are never named in the book, and don't even get to narrate a chapter of their own -- are powerful examples not only of how to shelter and strengthen a child with heartbreaking facial anomalies, but also of how to be a loving advocate to any kid."

The London Times, The Top 100 People to Watch in 2012:
"The breakout publishing sensation of 2012 will come courtesy of Palacio [and] is destined to go the way of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and then some." 

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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