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Student Pick of the Week: Wonder


Sixth grader Megan B. enthusiastically recommended the book Wonder by R. J. Palacio recently in her blog.   Megan wrote, “In this book, a boy named August (Auggie to his family and friends) has a severe facial deformity. He describes himself in the book this way, ‘I am not going to explain what I look like. Whatever you are thinking, it’s probably worse.’”  (Now that’s a line that is bound to grab your attention!)

Auggie is 10 and about to start school for the first time.  In the 5th grade!  His mom is pushing him to go to a local private school after being homeschooled all his life, but his dad thinks they should wait.  Auggie isn’t so sure what he wants to do.  Change can be so frightening.

Megan goes on to say, “I think that Auggie’s situation is absolutely terrifying!  If I were him, I would hide in a corner, feeling sad for myself. But Auggie is not like that. He doesn’t seem to feel sorry for himself.  This book is AMAZING, and I would encourage EVERYONE to read it!”

Mrs. Carter’s Thoughts About Wonder

I have to agree with Megan.  Wonder is an absolutely amazing book.  I know I will be thinking about Auggie and his story for a very long time.  In fact, it may make it onto my favorite books of all time list.  It is my pick for the Newbery Medal this year!  (The Newbery Announcements are coming up soon; we shall have to see if I am right.  The competition is tough this year.)

As Megan mentioned in her review, the main character Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity. Auggie has been homeschooled all his life due to the many surgeries he has had to undergo in order to survive and because his parents feared the reactions of other children.  But, Auggie has turned 10 and is about to enter the fifth grade.  His mom feels it is time for him to go to a school with other children.  Auggie’s dad and Auggie himself aren’t so sure, but Auggie’s mom convinces them and off to school goes Auggie.

Wonder is the story of Auggie’s fifth grade year, and is told from multiple perspectives.  Each narrator has a distinct voice and his or her own burdens to bear, even though none of those burdens is as obvious as Auggie’s.  It is Auggie’s voice that  captures the reader’s attention and truly makes this novel shine.  It is Auggie who reminds  the reader that every human being is created in the image of God.  As Auggie says, “You can’t exactly blend in, when you were born to stand out.”

badge_large-2The Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to  see in the world.”  Wonder is a novel about being that change no matter who you are or what obstacles are in your way.  It is a novel about being kind, being a friend, and loving others, and the courage it takes to live life to its fullest regardless of your circumstances.  It is a novel about how one person can make a huge difference.  Read this book and be challenged to be the person, God created you to be.

The publisher of Wonder, Random House Children’s Books, was so inspired by R. J. Palacio’s novel that they began the Choose Kind Campaign. Just one simple act of kindness can make a huge difference in the world.  You can help the Choose Kind Campaign to reach their goal of 100,000 people from all over the world  pledging to choose kindness by filling out the Choose Kind pledge form.

Learn more about R. J. Palacio, Wonder, and the Choose Kind Campaign in this interview.

Wonder In Brief

Author: R. J. Palacio

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Setting:  Present Day New York City

Themes/Topics: Identity, Friendship, Bullying, Kindness, Overcoming disabilities, Middle School

Alerts: None — everyone in grades 4 and up (including adults) should read this book!

AR BL:  4.8     AR Points:  11

Highly Recommended: Grades 4 and up.  Some of the themes and content may make Wonder a more difficult independent read for 3rd grade students, but it could make a great read aloud or read with a caring adult book for third graders.