Summary and book reviews of Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder

by R.J. Palacio

Wonder by R.J. Palacio X
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
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  • Published:
    Feb 2012, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

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About this Book

Book Summary

Wonder is a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next.

Winner of the BookBrowse 2012 Best Book for Younger Readers Award

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school - until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Ages 8+

Ordinary
I know I'm not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an XBox. Stuff like that makes me ordinary. I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go.

If I found a magic lamp and I could have one wish, I would wish that I had a normal face that no one ever noticed at all. I would wish that I could walk down the street without people seeing me and then doing that look-away thing. Here's what I think: the only reason I'm not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.

But I'm kind of used to how I look by now. I know how to pretend I don't see the faces people make. We've all gotten pretty good at that sort of thing: me, Mom and Dad, Via. Actually, I take that back: Via's not so good at it. She can get really annoyed when people do something rude. Like, ...

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    BookBrowse Awards
    2012

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Wonder rings its bell, and the note that reverberates in the air slips effortlessly into the reader's body. It hangs there, and the reader can't help but be changed. It is a meditation of a novel. A story that asks the reader to feel her way into kindness, empathy, and openness. And without a doubt, the reader, upon experiencing it, responds with a deep, resounding yes. Wonder is recommended for middle grade and young adult readers. It is a perfect book to open up discussions between students or book club members.   (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).

Full Review (602 words).

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Media Reviews

The London Times
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.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Few first novels pack more of a punch: it's a rare story with the power to open eyes - and hearts - to what it's like to be singled out for a difference you can't control, when all you want is to be just another face in the crowd. Ages 8–12.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

Booklist
Starred Review. Palacio makes it feel not only effortless but downright graceful, and by the stand-up-and-cheer conclusion, readers will be doing just that, and feeling as if they are part of this troubled but ultimately warm-hearted community.

School Library Journal
Starred Review. Palacio has an exceptional knack for writing realistic conversation and describing the thoughts and emotions of the characters. Everyone grows and develops as the story progresses, especially the middle school students. This is a fast read and would be a great discussion starter about love, support, and judging people on their appearance. A well-written, thought-provoking book.

Author Blurb Julia Alvarez, author of Return to Sender, Before We Were Free, Finding Miracles, and the Tia Lola Stories
Wonder is a book with such a big wide heart - it shows how we are all fragile, imperfect, and perfectly beautiful creatures. A wonderful novel by a wonder of a writer!

Author Blurb Tom Angleberger, author of the New York Times bestseller The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
This really is a remarkable book!

Reader Reviews

Sara

Wonder book review
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse. (A passage from the book) Wonder is a book about a boy called August who is very different from most other kids but he sees himself as an ordinary kid. As a usual ...   Read More

Bryan Arevalo

Wonder
Wonder is the best realistic story about a kid who has many challenges to overcome and this also inspiring because it tells YOU to not judge people how they look and be their friend.

Keagan

Wondering about Wonder
After I finished this book I couldn't stop restarting it again and again. There's just so much you could learn from it and I thought that the more I read it the more I was understanding and learning! I really used the material that I got from it to ...   Read More

Bob

Wonder
A very interesting, heartwarming and fantastic book overall.

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Beyond the Book

R.J. Palacio's Inspiration for Wonder

Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

This is Auggie's statement on page one of Wonder about the appearance of his face. R.J. Palacio (whose real name is Raquel Jaramillo... Palacio is her mother's last name) makes a very conscious choice not to explore Auggie's disfigurement head-on, and I think it's a good one. Instead, she allows the reader to create her own images and then, very slowly and from a slanted sort of angle, Palacio gives details. Because at the heart of issue is, well, Auggie's heart, and that is all that matters.

I don't want to dishonor Palacio's choice, but I will give you a bit of information about Auggie's condition. He has something called Mandibulofacial Dysostosis, which is more typically known as ...

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