Wonder

Wonder

4.7 1866
by R. J. Palacio
     
 

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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 justSee more details below

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Overview

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Due to a rare genetic disorder, Auggie Pullman's head is malformed, his facial features are misshapen, and he has scars from corrective surgery. After much discussion and waffling, he and his parents decide it's time for him to go to a regular school for the fifth grade instead of being homeschooled. All his life Auggie has seen the shocked expressions and heard the whispers his appearance generates, and he has his coping strategies. He knows that except for how he looks, he's a normal kid. What he experiences is typical middle school—the good and the bad. Meanwhile, his beautiful sister is starting high school and having her own problems. She's finding that friendships change and, though it makes her feel guilty, she likes not being labeled as Auggie's sister. Multiple people tell this story, including Auggie, two of his new school friends, his sister, and his sister's former best friend. 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.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
Mary Quattlebaum
First-time novelist R. J. Palacio deftly avoids the sentimentality that can so bedevil children's books by developing Auggie as a funny, hurting, totally authentic kid…Endearing, enduring Auggie and his family and friends will find a place in the hearts of readers and prompt reflection on how we treat others.
—The Washington Post
Maria Russo
…rich and memorable…Stories about unusual children who long to fit in can be particularly wrenching…But Palacio gives Auggie a counterweight to his problems: He has the kind of warm and loving family many "normal" children lack. Among their —and the book's—many strengths, the Pullmans share the…earthy sense of humor that all kids love…But it's Auggie and the rest of the children who are the real heart of Wonder, and Palacio captures the voices of girls and boys, fifth graders and teenagers, with equal skill…
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Auggie Pullman was born with severe facial deformities-no outer ears, eyes in the wrong place, his skin "melted"-and he's learned to steel himself against the horrified reactions he produces in strangers. Now, after years of homeschooling, his parents have enrolled him in fifth grade. In short chapters told from various first-person perspectives, debut author Palacio sketches his challenging but triumphant year. Though he has some expectedly horrible experiences at school, Auggie has lucked out with the adults in his life-his parents love him unconditionally, and his principal and teachers value kindness over all other qualities. While one bully manages, temporarily, to turn most of Auggie's classmates against him (Auggie likens this to becoming the human equivalent of "the Cheese Touch," a clever Diary of a Wimpy Kid reference), good wins out. 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. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
#1 New York Times bestseller

A School Library Journal Best of Children's Books 2012

A Publishers Weekly Best of Children's Books 2012

A Kirkus Reviews Best of Children's Books 2012

A Booklist Best of Children's Books 2012

"Wonder is essentially ... a wonder. It's well-written, engaging, and so much fun to read that the pages almost turn themselves. More than that, Wonder touches the heart in the most life-affirming, unexpected ways, delivering in August Pullman a character whom readers will remember forever. Do yourself a favor and read this book – your life will be better for it." - Nicholas Sparks, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Slate.com, October 10, 2012:
"Wonder is the best kids' book of the year."

Entertainment Weekly, February 17, 2012, The Top 10 Things We Love This Week:
"In a wonder of a debut, Palacio has written a crackling page-turner filled with characters you can't help but root for."

The New York Times, April 8, 2012:
"Rich and memorable...It's Auggie and the rest of the children who are the real heart of 'Wonder,' and Palacio captures the voices of girls and boys, fifth graders and teenagers, with equal skill."

The Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2012:
"What makes R.J. Palacio's debut novel so remarkable, and so lovely, is the uncommon generosity with which she tells Auggie's story…The result is a beautiful, funny and sometimes sob-making story of quiet transformation.”

The Huffington Post,
March 1, 2012:
"It's in the bigger themes that Palacio's writing shines. This book is a glorious exploration of the nature of friendship, tenacity, fear, and most importantly, kindness."
January 2013: "I think every mother and father would be better for having read it. Auggie's parents -- who are never named in the book, and don't even get to narrate a chapter of their own -- are powerful examples not only of how to shelter and strengthen a child with heartbreaking facial anomalies, but also of how to be a loving advocate to any kid."

The London Times, The Top 100 People to Watch in 2012:
"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."

"Full of heart, full of truth, Wonder is a book about seeing the beauty that's all around us.  I dare you not to fall in love with Auggie Pullman."
- Rebecca Stead, Newbery award-winning author of When You Reach Me

"It is the deceptive simplicity and honesty of the work that make Wonder so memorable. Every single character seems real and well drawn and oh-so human...This book is beautiful." - Christopher Paul Curtis, Newbery award-winning author of Bud, Not Buddy

"A beautiful story of kindness and courage. There are many real and well-developed characters, and they each have their shining moments. Of course, Auggie shines the brightest." - Clare Vanderpool, Newbery award-winning author of Moon Over Manifest

"Wonder is a beautifully told story about heartache, love, and the value of human life. One comes away from it wanting to be a better person." - Patricia Reilly Giff, two-time Newbery honor-winning author of Lily's Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods

"Wonder is a shining jewel of a story that cannot help but encourage readers of all ages to do better, to be better, in how they treat others in life. I'm totally in love with this novel."  - Trudy Ludwig, anti-bullying advocate and author of My Secret Bully, Confessions of a Former Bully, Better Than You, and Just Kidding

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 20, 2012:
“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.”

Starred Review, Booklist, February 1, 2012:
“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.”

Starred Review, School Library Journal, February 1, 2012:
"Palacio has an exceptional knack for writing realistic conversation and describing the thoughts and emotions of the characters...A well-written, thought-provoking book."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2011:
“A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.”

Entertainment Weekly
In this bighearted debut YA novel, Auggie Pullman is a kind, insightful 10-year-old boy, born with a severe facial deformity, who endures relentless bullying and cruelty at his new middle school. But his story ultimately becomes an uplifting one as he changes the community around him.
The New York Times

Rich and memorable...It's Auggie and the rest of the children who are the real heart of 'Wonder,' and Palacio captures the voices of girls and boys, fifth graders and teenagers, with equal skill.
The Huffington Post

I think every mother and father would be better for having read it. Auggie's parents -- who are never named in the book, and don't even get to narrate a chapter of their own -- are powerful examples not only of how to shelter and strengthen a child with heartbreaking facial anomalies, but also of how to be a loving advocate to any kid.
Children's Literature - Maggie L. Schrock
August Pullman has always been homeschooled. During the summer before he is to start fifth grade, August's parents inform him they've applied for him to attend a private school. Shocked, August immediately puts up a fight. He doesn't want to attend school looking the way he does. He would want to go if he was an ordinary ten-year-old, but he's not. August was born with a facial deformity, and has undergone surgery after surgery. Despite all of this, August still has an extraordinary face—one that stops people in mid-sentence. Finally agreeing to go to school, August embarks on a roller coaster of a year through fifth grade. From having no friends at all, to being one of the most popular kids in his class, August enjoys quite a year. What makes the book most interesting is the change in points of view. Starting and ending in August's point of view, but also told from his sister's, best friends', and his sister's boyfriend, this book keeps you on the edge of your seat. Themes of love and forgiveness, true friendship, the importance of family, bullying, and accepting people are woven throughout this unique book. Hilariously written, and about an eye-opening topic, it's a good read for all ages. Reviewer: Maggie L. Schrock
Kirkus Reviews
After being homeschooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he's worried: How will he fit into middle-school life when he looks so different from everyone else? Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though "his features look like they've been melted, like the drippings on a candle" and he's used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he's an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He's smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending "a lamb to the slaughter." Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie's first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie's viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie's arrival at school doesn't test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too. A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375899881
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
02/14/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
549
Lexile:
790L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

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, for instance, one time in the playground some older kids made some noises. I don’t even know what the noises were exactly because I didn’t hear them myself, but Via heard and she just started yelling at the kids. That’s the way she is. I’m not that way.

Via doesn’t see me as ordinary. She says she does, but if I were ordinary, she wouldn’t feel like she needs to protect me as much. And Mom and Dad don’t see me as ordinary, either. They see me as extraordinary. I think the only person in the world who realizes how ordinary I am is me.

My name is August, by the way. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.



Why I Didn’t Go to School

Next week I start fifth grade. Since I’ve never been to a real school before, I am pretty much totally and completely petrified. People think I haven’t gone to school because of the way I look, but it’s not that. It’s because of all the surgeries I’ve had. Twenty-seven since I was born. The bigger ones happened before I was even four years old, so I don’t remember those. But I’ve had two or three surgeries every year since then (some big, some small), and because I’m little for my age, and I have some other medical mysteries that doctors never really figured out, I used to get sick a lot. That’s why my parents decided it was better if I didn’t go to school. I’m much stronger now, though. The last surgery I had was eight months ago, and I probably won’t have to have any more for another couple of years.

Mom homeschools me. She used to be a children’s-book illustrator. She draws really great fairies and mermaids. Her boy stuff isn’t so hot, though. She once tried to draw me a Darth Vader, but it ended up looking like some weird mushroom-shaped robot. I haven’t seen her draw anything in a long time. I think she’s too busy taking care of me and Via.

I can’t say I always wanted to go to school because that wouldn’t be exactly true. What I wanted was to go to school, but only if I could be like every other kid going to school. Have lots of friends and hang out after school and stuff like that.

I have a few really good friends now. Christopher is my best friend, followed by Zachary and Alex. We’ve known each other since we were babies. And since they’ve always known me the way I am, they’re used to me. When we were little, we used to have playdates all the time, but then Christopher moved to Bridgeport in Connecticut. That’s more than an hour away from where I live in North River Heights, which is at the top tip of Manhattan. And Zachary and Alex started going to school. It’s funny: even though Christopher’s the one who moved far away, I still see him more than I see Zachary and Alex. They have all these new friends now. If we bump into each other on the street, they’re still nice to me, though. They always say hello.

I have other friends, too, but not as good as Christopher and Zack and Alex were. For instance, Zack and Alex always invited me to their birthday parties when we were little, but Joel and Eamonn and Gabe never did. Emma invited me once, but I haven’t seen her in a long time. And, of course, I always go to Christopher’s birthday. Maybe I’m making too big a deal about birthday parties.



How I Came to Life

I like when Mom tells this story because it makes me laugh so much. It’s not funny in the way a joke is funny, but when Mom tells it, Via and I just start cracking up.

So when I was in my mom’s stomach, no one had any idea I would come out looking the way I look. Mom had had Via four years before, and that had been such a “walk in the park” (Mom’s expression) that there was no reason to run any special tests. About two months before I was born, the doctors realized there was something wrong with my face, but they didn’t think it was going to be bad. They told Mom and Dad I had a cleft palate and some other stuff going on. They called it “small anomalies.”

There were two nurses in the delivery room the night I was born. One was very nice and sweet. The other one, Mom said, did not seem at all nice or sweet. She had very big arms and (here comes the funny part), she kept farting. Like, she’d bring Mom some ice chips, and then fart. She’d check Mom’s blood pressure, and fart. Mom says it was unbelievable because the nurse never even said excuse me! Meanwhile, Mom’s regular doctor wasn’t on duty that night, so Mom got stuck with this cranky kid doctor she and Dad nicknamed Doogie after some old TV show or something (they didn’t actually call him that to his face). But Mom says that even though everyone in the room was kind of grumpy, Dad kept making her laugh all night long.

When I came out of Mom’s stomach, she said the whole room got very quiet. Mom didn’t even get a chance to look at me because the nice nurse immediately rushed me out of the room. Dad was in such a hurry to follow her that he dropped the video camera, which broke into a million pieces. And then Mom got very upset and tried to get out of bed to see where they were going, but the farting nurse put her very big arms on Mom to keep her down in the bed. They were practically fighting, because Mom was hysterical and the farting nurse was yelling at her to stay calm, and then they both started screaming for the doctor. But guess what? He had fainted! Right on the floor! So when the farting nurse saw that he had fainted, she started pushing him with her foot to get him to wake up, yelling at him the whole time: “What kind of doctor are you? What kind of doctor are you? Get up! Get up!” And then all of a sudden she let out the biggest, loudest, smelliest fart in the history of farts. Mom thinks it was actually the fart that finally woke the doctor up. Anyway, when Mom tells this story, she acts out all the parts--including the farting noises--and it is so, so, so, so funny!

Mom says the farting nurse turned out to be a very nice woman. She stayed with Mom the whole time. Didn’t leave her side even after Dad came back and the doctors told them how sick I was. Mom remembers exactly what the nurse whispered in her ear when the doctor told her I probably wouldn’t live through the night: “Everyone born of God overcometh the world.” And the next day, after I had lived through the night, it was that nurse who held Mom’s hand when they brought her to meet me for the first time.

Mom says by then they had told her all about me. She had been preparing herself for the seeing of me. But she says that when she looked down into my tiny mushed-up face for the first time, all she could see was how pretty my eyes were.

Mom is beautiful, by the way. And Dad is handsome. Via is pretty. In case you were wondering.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
#1 New York Times bestseller

A School Library Journal Best of Children's Books 2012

A Publishers Weekly Best of Children's Books 2012

A Kirkus Reviews Best of Children's Books 2012

A Booklist Best of Children's Books 2012

"Wonder is essentially ... a wonder. It's well-written, engaging, and so much fun to read that the pages almost turn themselves. More than that, Wonder touches the heart in the most life-affirming, unexpected ways, delivering in August Pullman a character whom readers will remember forever. Do yourself a favor and read this book – your life will be better for it." - Nicholas Sparks, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Slate.com, October 10, 2012:
"Wonder is the best kids' book of the year."

Entertainment Weekly, February 17, 2012, The Top 10 Things We Love This Week:
"In a wonder of a debut, Palacio has written a crackling page-turner filled with characters you can't help but root for."

The New York Times, April 8, 2012:
"Rich and memorable...It's Auggie and the rest of the children who are the real heart of 'Wonder,' and Palacio captures the voices of girls and boys, fifth graders and teenagers, with equal skill."

The Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2012:
"What makes R.J. Palacio's debut novel so remarkable, and so lovely, is the uncommon generosity with which she tells Auggie's story…The result is a beautiful, funny and sometimes sob-making story of quiet transformation.”

The Huffington Post,
March 1, 2012:
"It's in the bigger themes that Palacio's writing shines. This book is a glorious exploration of the nature of friendship, tenacity, fear, and most importantly, kindness."
January 2013: "I think every mother and father would be better for having read it. Auggie's parents — who are never named in the book, and don't even get to narrate a chapter of their own — are powerful examples not only of how to shelter and strengthen a child with heartbreaking facial anomalies, but also of how to be a loving advocate to any kid."

The London Times, The Top 100 People to Watch in 2012:
"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."

"Full of heart, full of truth, Wonder is a book about seeing the beauty that's all around us.  I dare you not to fall in love with Auggie Pullman."
- Rebecca Stead, Newbery award-winning author of When You Reach Me

"It is the deceptive simplicity and honesty of the work that make Wonder so memorable. Every single character seems real and well drawn and oh-so human...This book is beautiful." - Christopher Paul Curtis, Newbery award-winning author of Bud, Not Buddy

"A beautiful story of kindness and courage. There are many real and well-developed characters, and they each have their shining moments. Of course, Auggie shines the brightest." - Clare Vanderpool, Newbery award-winning author of Moon Over Manifest

"Wonder is a beautifully told story about heartache, love, and the value of human life. One comes away from it wanting to be a better person." - Patricia Reilly Giff, two-time Newbery honor-winning author of Lily's Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods

"Wonder is a shining jewel of a story that cannot help but encourage readers of all ages to do better, to be better, in how they treat others in life. I'm totally in love with this novel."  - Trudy Ludwig, anti-bullying advocate and author of My Secret Bully, Confessions of a Former Bully, Better Than You, and Just Kidding

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 20, 2012:
“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.”

Starred Review, Booklist, February 1, 2012:
“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.”

Starred Review, School Library Journal, February 1, 2012:
"Palacio has an exceptional knack for writing realistic conversation and describing the thoughts and emotions of the characters...A well-written, thought-provoking book."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2011:
“A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.”

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