MrsK's Seasoned Reader Picks

Friday, August 14, 2015

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

ISBN: 9780375869020
Publisher's Synopsis:
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity 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 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.
"Doctors have come from distant cities
just to see me
stand over my bed
disbelieving what they're seeing.
They say I must be one of the wondes
of God's own creation
and as far as they can see they offer
no explanation."
Natalie Merchant, "Wonder"
MrsK's Review:

Once in awhile you read a book in which the character remains important deep within your thoughts and heart. A character so moving, so special, and so inspiring... so alive. Wonder is a book in which the main character has made the decision to enter Middle School after being home schooled. It is a decision that will leave him vulnerable and exposed. A courageous step beyond the safety of his family.

Meet Auggie (August Pullman), who was born with a facial deformity, intelligence, and courage. All of his life he has endured the devastating looks, reactions, and fearfulness of strangers. Now is the time for him to become a student among many who are finding their way as middle school students. Given the "all encompassing" emotions and hormonal changes, middle school can be a roller coaster of fear, bullying, anger, and uncertainty. Why would Auggie want to begin public school at such a time is beyond reasoning for most of us. Yet, Auggie is blessed beyond measure with courage and a determination to live without "superficial" boundaries.

"I know I'm not an ordinary ten-year-old kid.
I mean, sure, I do ordinary things....
But I know ordinary kids don't make other kids
run away screaming in playgrounds."
Mr. Tushman of Beecher Prep school has prearranged a meeting with Auggie and his mother before the first day of school. Like any ordinary "new" student, Auggie will meet some of the staff and tour the school. It is with great foresight, that Auggie's tour is lead by a few "homeroom" students:

Jack is the first student that will extend friendship in the halls and classrooms. Yet, at some point he will need to decide if he wants to fit in with his old friends or stay friends with Auggie.

Jullian is rude and obnoxious (you know that type that acts one way with adults and another with students). The type that is loud, arrogant, and will not let Auggie escape being bullied. When push comes to shove, Auggie will demonstrate true character strength. The question will be if Jullian will learn acceptance of Auggie as an "ordinary" kid... and a friend?

Charlotte is an "artsy" girl. She enjoys all aspects of school, including science. She doesn't waiver in her support for Auggie, unless maybe it's in the lunch room. Will Charlotte be strong enough to overcome peer pressure? 

Mr. Browne is Auggie's English teacher. He values his students and begins school with learning about precepts (any important thought, motto, or saying that guides you when making really important decisions). His students will write-to-learn a new precept every month:
"When given the choice between being right or being kind,
choose kind."
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Summer is the first student who braves the whispers in the lunch room and chooses to sit at the table with Auggie. It might seem a small gesture to many... but not only will it prove to be a courageous step towards friendship... it will also be an experience of a life time for both of them.

Whether it is Auggie's first birthday party, the first Halloween school event, the first school trip (outdoor school away from home), or the first meeting with his sister's high school friends... Auggie is on a life-changing quest... to be just another "ordinary kid!"

The depth of characterization will leave a lasting "thumb-print" upon every reader's heart. Those middle school experiences will be confirmed and/or "pushed" to a new level of awareness with dignified choices. The story line is expertly woven between Auggie's story and the voices of those who are changed by their encounters with Auggie.

There is so much that Auggie offers, care enough to experience the "Wonder,"
"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
As long as you can."
John Wesley's Rule 
golden,star,christmas,favourite,bookmarkAmazing read!
Added to my shelf, Shared with Teachers, 
A must have for all educators and librarians! 
 Meet the Author:
Picture  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.
365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts
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