Palacio, R. J.
New York : Knopf, 2012
IL 3-6, RL 5.1
Ten year old Auggie Pullman was born with such severe facial deformities that, even after 27 surgeries, children still run away from him screaming. But he’s just a regular kid, surrounded by a very loving and supportive family. He even has a best friend. Homeschooled and soon to be a fifth grader, Auggie’s mother has decided it’s now time for him to attend a private school. But the transition isn’t easy when most people don’t get beyond judging him by his looks. In spite of the death of his dog, bullies, and friendships that are tested, Auggie proves to his new classmates and the school administration that he’s smart, funny and brave. The story, which spans a school year, is told from the points of view of a variety of characters, including Auggie’s, his sister’s and a few friends’, allowing the reader glimpses into his childhood. Auggie is faced with challenges that he meets head-on, and the reader will cheer for him and savor his victory in the end. (Booktalk written by Suzanne Wall-GSF Committee/Merrimack Public Library)
August Pullman—he goes by Auggie—just wants to be an ordinary kid. In many ways he is. He likes Star Wars, mac and cheese and playing X-Box. The severe facial deformity Auggie was born with means he will never pass for ordinary, however, and he knows it. Until middle school Auggie’s condition kept him at home. He’s never been to a regular school before the first day of middle school and hopes to be able to find a way to fit in.
Sound like the set up for a sappy novel that adults want kids to read to learn a good lesson about being nice, right?
Wonder is better than that though.
The kids at Auggie’s new school react with the expected initial surprise when first meeting Auggie. Even Auggie says about his deformity, “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” And here is why Wonder is such a great book: Auggie’s classmates treat him in all the ways you’d expect real middle school students to. Some are outwardly kind but nasty when teachers aren’t looking. Some of those who get to know Auggie are teased themselves. Most of the class participates in a game called Plague in which anyone who touches Auggie has to wash his hands immediately or be infected (kind of like the “Cheese Touch” in Diary of a Wimpy Kid). It’s hard and it’s awful but Auggie struggles through. And makes friends. And eventually most of the class gets tired of the meanness and Auggie’s deformity becomes an “ordinary” part of school. And Auggie’s school becomes more than ordinary as a result.
Wonder is a great book. Recommend it to your teachers and other adults—they should read it too. (Amber Peterson, Teacher-Librarian, Beaver Lake Middle School, Washington Evergreen Award, 2015)
Abnormalities, Human -- Fiction.
Self-acceptance -- Fiction.
Middle schools -- Fiction.
Schools -- Fiction.