TITLE OF THE BOOK: Wonder
AUTHOR: R.J. Palacio
PUBLISHER: Knopf Books for Young Readers
NUMBER OF PAGES: 320
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2012
READING LEVEL: ages 8 and up
GENRE: middle grade
SUMMARY: August Pullman was born with a facial difference 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.
OUR STAR RATING:
OUR GROUP REVIEW: We loved reading Wonder! All our club members agreed that reading from different perspectives was so interesting--we loved hearing from Auggie himself, but it was eye-opening to see how he affected those around him, and how people reacted to him.
Some of our main discussion points:
- We thought Palacio was very successful in capturing a child's voice, which made the book feel very authentic.
- Some members expected a dramatic climax to the story, which never really occurs (although there are some dramatic encounters, there isn't a traditional climax to the story). This is more a 'slice of life' book, which makes it feel very realistic and relatable.
- We spent lots of time discussing the importance of teaching kindness and acceptance to our children, and educating them about potential physical differences they could encounter as well as appropriate ways to react and respond. Kindness is a crucial lesson to teach to our children, and we can't forget to model it for them. We need to love and include without worrying about embarrassment. Many of us were very bothered by the section of the book containing emails written by Julian's mother, who clearly modeled a hateful and prejudiced attitude toward those who were different--it is a powerful reminder that kindness must begin at home. Parents can be just as guilty of bullying as young children. We had a great discussion about how to raise children like Summer, who was unconditionally accepting and loving of Auggie.
- Many group members shared experiences of bullying that ranged from being unaware of bullying at all, to being the victim of a bully, to being close friends with a bully and being afraid to speak up for fear of becoming their new target! It seemed that our perspectives on Auggie's situation varied depending on our own childhood experiences with bullies.
- Many of us particularly enjoyed reading Via's perspective, and admired her attitude of deep love for Auggie, even though she was slightly resentful of him. We were so happy that she got her own moment to shine in the book--every child deserves time in the spotlight.
- We talked quite a bit about how to react when encountering someone who has a noticeable disability. Even as adults, many of us still feel unsure of how to act for fear of doing the 'wrong' thing or causing discomfort or offense. We decided that even saying the 'wrong' thing is better than doing/saying nothing at all, and its always better than turning and walking the other way. We should do what we can to model kindness and love. One group member mentioned that when she sees someone different in some way than herself, she consciously thinks to herself, "I love you," which them prompts her to speak and act with love and kindness. We all loved that idea as a way of reminding ourselves to show love to those around us, regardless of our differences.
OUR CONTENT RATING: G
VIOLENCE: mild (one brief scuffle/fight scene--not graphic at all, appropriate for young readers)
DRUG/ALCOHOL USE: none
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