August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a severe facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school.
Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, Auggie wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past his extraordinary face. Wonder begins from Auggie's point of view, but soon switches to include the perspectives of his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These voices converge to portray a community as it struggles with differences, and challenges readers, both young and old, to wonder about the true nature of empathy, compassion, acceptance, friendship, and—ultimately—kindness. Auggie is a hero for the ages, one who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
Wonder has been a New York Times bestseller for over 5 years in a row (with over 140 weeks as #1). It's received numerous national and international awards, including being one of Time magazines 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time (January, 2015), and USA Today's Top 100 bestsellers. The movie Wonder is scheduled to be released on November 17th, 2017.
about this author:
R. J. Palacio A first generation American (her parents were Colombian immigrants), Palacio was born on July 13, 1963 in New York City. Her birth name is Raquel Jaramillo (Palacio was her mother's maiden name). Palacio attended The High School of Art & Design in Manhattan, and then majored in illustration at the Parsons School of Design. She spent her junior year at The American University in Paris, where she traveled extensively before returning to NYC with an eye toward making her career in illustration. Her early works appeared in The Village Voice and The New York Times Book Review, which eventually segued into her storied career as the art director of several major book publishing companies. She designed thousands of book covers for countless writers in every genre of fiction and non-fiction, including Paul Auster, Thomas Pynchon, Salman Rushdie, Louise Ehrdrich, Sue Grafton, and John Fowles (among many others).
In addition to designing book covers, Palacio illustrated several of her own children’s books that were published under her birth name, including Peter Pan: The Original Tale of Neverland; Ride Baby Ride; Look Baby Look; The Night Before Christmas; The Handiest Things in the world; and Last Summer. Palacio also invented a baby toy called The Bobo Glove, a portable, wearable, washable activity toy for infants.
Since its publication on February 14th, 2012, Wonder has become a favorite of teachers and educators all over the country. It has been published in 45 countries, and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. In addition to Wonder, Palacio has published 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts (August, 2014), and Auggie & Me, ( October 2015), which includes print editions of the original e-book novelas: The Julian Chapter, Pluto, and Shingaling. Palacio's newest work, a picture book called We're All Wonders, which she both wrote and illustrated, introduces Auggie—and the themes of kindness and empathy and tolerance—to younger children. We're All Wonders comes out March, 2017.
A movie based on Wonder, starring Jacob Tremblay as Auggie Pullman, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, comes out November 17th, 2017.
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Thanks for sending this book! I had only very recently added it to my wishlist. It looks interesting, I have already lent it to a friend who was interested in it, as I am still only halfway through Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson which I am enjoying a lot, too.
In the meantime, I found this review on The Christian Post:
When author R.J. Palacio penned Wonder, a book about a little boy with a craniofacial difference, back in 2012, she had no idea it would spark a worldwide movement of kindness.
"I never could have predicted the kind of reaction the book received," Palacio told The Christian Post in an exclusive interview. "Shortly after the publication of the book, teachers and librarians and parents started talking about standing up to bullies and using kindness as an aspirational way to motivate kids to want to be nicer to one another."
"I just wrote a humble little book reminding kids and maybe parents about the fact that their actions are noted, their actions are important," she added. "If you can walk in someone else's shoes for a little while you'll realize you have a lot more in common with people than you realize."
Wonder follows Auggie Pullman, a little boy born with facial features that set him apart from his peers, who enters fifth grade, attending elementary school for the first time. The book 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.
In addition to inspiring the "Choose Kind" movement, Wonder became a New York Times best-seller, selling over 8 million copies worldwide. It's also required reading in many middle schools across the United States. Last year, the book was adapted into a hit movie starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson.
For Palacio, seeing her book hit the big screen was "surreal."
"It was so wonderful in the care they took to translate the book to movie, not just in terms of transcribing for writing a screenplay, but just in terms of the spirit of the book," she said. "I think everyone took such care to create the film in such a beautiful and funny and lighthearted way."
In the U.S., approximately 600,000 individuals have been diagnosed with a craniofacial condition, ranging from a cleft palate to a myriad of syndrome disorders.
Palacio said that over the years, she's received thousands of emails and letters from children who have facial differences, and parents of those kids describing how the book has impacted them. The stories that move her the most, she said, are those from the "real-life Auggie Pullmans."
"I had one dad tell me that before Wonder came out, just taking his son who had a very severe craniofacial difference to the playground was a big deal," she recalled. "They had to mentally prepare themselves every single time. One day, when his son went to the playground, kids came up to him and said, 'Hey! Are you like Auggie Pullman?' Now, it's completely different. It totally changed his son's personality. Those are the kind of stories that are extremely inspiring to me."
While Auggie is the focal point of Wonder, the book also delves into how the lives of his parents and sibling are affected by living with someone who has special needs.
"Siblings and parents have their own struggles, and I think that gets overlooked a lot," Palacio said. "Because the book shifts in different perspectives, it allows readers to feel what it's like to be someone on the receiving end of hostility and stares simply by virtue of being different. It also allows readers to walk in the shoes of the people surrounding Auggie, to experience what it's like to have someone start in school is who is the subject or object of so many stares."
Photo: LionsgateJulie Roberts and Owen Wilson play Auggie's parents in "Wonder"
Palacio, who has two sons of her own, hopes Wonder both inspires children to be kinder to one another and encourages parents to examine their own thoughts and attitudes toward those with differences.
"Before we talk to our children, we have to be aware of how we are," she said. "We need to embrace diversity and accept differences in our community. You might not be living next door to someone with a craniofacial difference, but you might be living next door to someone of a different race or religion who may feel isolated. As parents, we need to use every opportunity to teach our children kindness and that there is beauty in differences."
"Ultimately, Wonder is a meditation on kindness," she continued. "It's a story about the impact it can have on our fellow human beings, it's about compassion and tolerance and acceptance. I think I'm trying to inspire empathy and that through storytelling, that's the best way to do that."
This book has changed hands again. Hopefully it returns to me by the time I have finished reading Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson. I'm about two-thirds of the way through.
I have been thinking about existence lately. In fact, I have been so full of admiration for existence that I have hardly been able to enjoy it properly . . . I feel sometimes as if I were a child who opens its eyes on the world once and sees amazing things it will never know any names for and then has to close its eyes again. I know this is all mere apparition compared to what awaits us, but it is only lovelier for that. There is a human beauty in it. And I can’t believe that, when we have all been changed and put on incorruptibility, we will forget our fantastic condition of mortality and impermanence, the great bright dream of procreating and perishing that meant the whole world to us. In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets. Because I don’t imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try. - Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
I read this book a few days ago on a long bus trip. It was a treat to read a whole book in one sitting. It might be the only time I've ever done that. Palacio really has a good sense of the dynamics of friendship groups (and cliques) in middle- and high school, and how destructive the crowd instinct can be, in spite of the best intentions (in most cases) of the individuals involved. Throughout the book I kept wondering how the many problems would resolve themselves, or whether they would. Suddenly and unexpectedly, everything changes for the better in a storyline that is immensely believable and yet still incredibly moving. The fact that the storyline is told by multiple narrators makes each character all the more three-dimensional. Like in much of the fiction writing that I enjoy, the real-life events lead to the big questions, and sometimes to the realisation that there's "somebody in control":
“no, no, it's not all random, if it really was all random, the universe would abandon us completely. and the universe doesn't. it takes care of its most fragile creations in ways we can't see. like with parents who adore you blindly. and a big sister who feels guilty for being human over you. and a little gravelly-voiced kid whose friends have left him over you. and even a pink-haired girl who carries your picture in her wallet. maybe it is a lottery, but the universe makes it all even out in the end. the universe takes care of all its birds.” ― R.J. Palacio, Wonder
I plan to pass this book on to a friend.