Perhaps you heard about it from a librarian friend. Maybe you read SLJ’s glowing review. You may have even watched the book trailer on Youtube. Well, if you haven’t heard yet, you have now! The world of kid lit is in a tizzy over R.J. Palacio’s first book Wonder. I must thank fellow Dominican grad and ALSC guest blogger John for writing about this amazing book on his blog. I’m so glad I read his post when I did…because when Wonder was first published, I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible. I also knew that I wanted to share this book with everyone in our fantastic ALSC community….and not just because it’s a story about a boy with a special need. It’s SO much more than that.
Auggie is a 5th grade boy who has been homeschooled his entire life. Born with a cleft palate and other facial anomalies, Auggie endured many surgeries throughout his childhood. So, his parents decided the best thing for him would be to be schooled at home. Until now. His parents think that he’s ready to start middle school, and after some resistance, Auggie comes around to the idea too. Deep down, he feels like an ordinary boy, but wishes the rest of the world–especially the kids at his new school–would see him that way. On his first day, some of his new classmates give him a tour around the school. Auggie thinks that he’s made a new friend in one of the kids, a boy named Jack. He even finds a friend to sit with during lunch. It seems that this transition might be not so bad. But on Halloween when he overhears a conversation between Jack and a few other boys, Auggie realizes this friendship may not be at all what he thought it was. And school no longer seems like the right place for him.
From page one, Palacio puts you right in Auggie’s shoes. You experience his world through his eyes. You see how others look at him. You feel what he’s feeling. And you laugh when he laughs. That’s what surprised me the most about this book–there are some moments that are down-right hysterical. Typical middle school humor. What this book has that many others don’t have is heart. The book is divided into 8 sections, alternating between different characters telling the story from different points of view. First Auggie, then his sister Via, then Auggie’s friends, then Via’s friends, then back to Auggie again. Each different voice deepens your understanding of Auggie and the impact his presence has within his family and in the school community. The chapters are extremely short, but that quickens the pace of the book. You want to keep turning the page right until the very end. It’s heart-breaking and hopeful at the same time.
Wonder draws you in and doesn’t let you go, the way a great book should. No wonder #thewonderofwonder is trending on Twitter. Check out this book and join the conversation. You won’t be sorry that you did. A must read.
For more books about children told from their unique perspective, check out these books:
Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer* 2012 Schneider Family Book Award Winner!
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos
The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff
T4: A Novel in Verse by Anne Clare LeZotte
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick* 2012 Schneider Family Book Award Winner!