Today’s review is something a little different – Wonder is a children’s book. According to the Amazon listing, it’s aimed at 9 to 11 year olds. But my interest was piqued when my eldest (Year 5 in primary school) had it as his class book last term.
When he was home for a full class isolation period, he was talking about the book as part of the guided reading work he was set. It’s not often he shows interest in a book that isn’t in a comic strip style or is Alex Ryder so I decided I needed to read this book. So credit to Miss Ainsworth for picking this book.
‘My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.’
Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go.
Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?
Wonder is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.
What Did I Think?
…the universe was not kind to auggie pullman. what did that little kid ever do to deserve his sentence?
Children can be so cruel. I think many of us put our school experiences behind us, it’s part of who we are as adults but it’s not an experience we will be repeating. Wonder made me think back to my school experience. I was overweight, short-sighted with uncool Deidre Barlow glasses and not the most attractive as a child/teenager so I was an easy target in jest and not in many cases. Not the happiest of times.
But this is nothing compared to August Pullman’s experience. He doesn’t go to school until he’s 10/11 as throughout his childhood he’s been in and out of hospital for operations to make his Treacher Collins syndrome, a craniofacial syndrome more manageable. Wonder is his story of going to school for that first year but he’s not the only one to tell the story. I heard from his sister Via, his two best friends Jack and Summer and Via’s boyfriend Justin. All together, these are six very distinctive voices telling their version of events over Auggie’s first year at school.
I have mention Via’s story. Via’s voice is so grown up and yet so innocent in many ways. Some of the things she says are so perceptive for a 14 year old – August is the Sun. Me and Mom and Dad are planets orbiting the Sun. Not only is this girl living through the changes with Auggie but she’s going through her own stuff as she returns to high school and the dynamics in her friendship groups aren’t the same – it’s not easy being a teenager at the best of time but Via is a tough girl. Listening to her tell her story and the concern for her younger brother was emotional.
Auggie’s experience of school changes over his first year but one thing that remains constant is his English teacher’s monthly precepts – Mr Browne sets the precepts at the beginning of the month and at the end of the month, the class writes an essay on what it means to them. These are thought provoking in themselves and I loved the fact that you get a full list of his precepts and those of some of the students at the end of the book. We could all learn from Mr Browne.
When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind
Wonder is an emotional and thought provoking read. It’s a book about growing up, change, loss. It’s a story about being kind and not to take people at face value. It’s so beautifully written I wanted to savour every word. It’s not a long read at 100 pages but Palacio crams masses into these pages. This may be recommended for 9 to 11 year olds but I think it appeals to all ages. #ChooseKind
Who Is R J Palacio?
R. J. Palacio lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two sons and two dogs (Bear and Beau). Her debut novel, Wonder, has been on the New York Times bestseller list since March, 2012, and has sold over 14 million copies worldwide. The book’s message of kindness has inspired the Choose Kind movement, and has been embraced by readers, young and old, around the world.