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Wonder: book review (A2)
Wonder is a book about a boy called Auggie who feels ordinary but looks very different.
Do the preparation exercise first and then read the article. If you find it too easy, try the next level. After reading, do the exercises to check your understanding.
What’s wonder about.
Wonder is the story of a ten-year-old boy who lives with his parents and sister in New York. August, or Auggie, is an ordinary boy in many ways. He rides a bike and likes playing with his Xbox. But Auggie has deformities of the face and looks very different from other children. At the start of the book, he tells us 'My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.' In the street, people look at Auggie and his appearance shocks them.
Auggie has never been to school because he has spent a lot of time in hospital. His mother teaches him at home, but now he’s ten, she thinks he should go to school. At first, Auggie doesn’t want to go. He worries that other students will look at him and say horrible things. But then he visits a school with his mum, he likes the headteacher and decides to go. Auggie’s first year at school has good times and bad times. Auggie makes some good friends but other children are horrible to him. At the end of the year, Auggie goes on a school trip and a frightening event there changes things completely.
Is it a good book?
Wonder is an excellent book. It tells an inspiring story that makes you feel many different emotions. Once I started reading it, I didn’t want to stop. It is easy to like Auggie. He has a good sense of humour, so the book has a good mix of funny and sad moments. But the book isn’t just about Auggie. We learn what life is like for his sister, and Jack, who is Auggie’s friend. Wonder is a book about a ten-year old boy, but it’s popular with people of all ages. Pre-teens, teenagers and adults all love Wonder .
Wonder is RJ Palacio’s first book. On her website, she explains that she had the idea for Wonder after seeing a girl with deformities on the street one day. Many schools are using the book to start discussions about bullying, friendship and being different. The book is very popular and has won prizes. There will be a film of Wonder , and many people, including me, are looking forward to seeing what RJ Palacio writes next.
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315 pages, Hardcover
First published February 14, 2012
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"When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." – Dr. Wayne Dyer
"If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary—the world really would be a better place."
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Wonder by R.J. Palacio – review
‘I think almost everyone will relate to this influential story’
Wonder is a brutally powerful story of a 10-year-old boy named August Pullman, who has a facial anomaly. He is an ordinary kid who plays Xbox, is obsessed with Star Wars, but despite the 27 operations done for his face he will never look normal.
August had been homeschooled since he was small and he is remarkably smart for children of his age. This story commences with August going to a school called Beecher Prep for beginning his fifth grade. The story brings out all the ups and downs he faces from his first day of school until his graduation. This book is very realistic since it depicts how August gets bullied and is socially isolated for being different, therefore I think almost everyone will relate to this influential story. This book efficiently puts light onto the theme of intolerance by society towards someone who is different. Hence, it is the kind of story that I feel is indispensable for everyone to read.
This book doesn’t use highfalutin vocabulary to be impressive but rather the way it depicts society is what makes it so heart-moving and imposing. It is the kind of book that can bring tears to your eyes within just the first few pages, or have you laughing and believing that despite all the brutality in the world there’s always reason to smile. It is the kind of book that will change the way you look at the world and make you realise that everyone is fighting their own demons and no one ought to make their lives more difficult by being unkind. It also has an underlying moral that people should not let their initial judgments affect their attitude towards a person.
One more intriguing aspect of this book is that it is told by various perspectives; the first few chapters are told by Auggie’s point of view, then some chapters by Via (Olivia Pullman, August’s elder sister). Then there are other incidents that transpire which are told by various characters’ perspectives, giving the readers a glimpse of each of the character’s struggles and views.
The edition of this book that I read also included the Julian chapter which is a bonus chapter and was primarily published separately, so do read that too because it is like a perfect epilogue for the book and the readers can also understand Julian’s side of the story (Julian is one of the bullies who gives August a really hard time).
It is a realistic and influential coming of age novel which will make you think about issues in society without even realising it.
I would absolutely give this book a 5/5 and recommend it to readers of all ages. I have to say this is R.J. Palacio’s first novel and it is sheer brilliance.
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'Wonder' Book Review
R.J. Palacio's Novel of Bullying and Acceptance
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"Wonder," R.J. Palacio's debut novel, was written for children 8 to 12 years old, but its message defies genres . Published in 2012, its anti-bullying, pro-acceptance message will resonate with teenagers and even adults as well.
Some books are action-packed, compelling the reader to turn the page to find out what happens next. Other books are compelling because they invite readers to engage with characters who are real, who come alive off the page, and who pull the reader into their story. "Wonder" is the latter kind of book. In fact, very little "action" happens within its pages, and yet readers will find themselves deeply affected by the story.
August Pullman (Auggie to his friends) is not an ordinary 10-year-old boy. He feels like one and has the interests of one, but his face is not ordinary at all. In fact, it's the type of face that scares kids and makes people stare. Auggie is pretty good natured about it all. This is the way he is, after all, and while he doesn’t like that people stare, there’s not much he can do about it.
Because his face has required many reconstructive surgeries, Auggie has been homeschooled . But there are no more surgeries to be done for a while, and now August’s parents think it’s time that he goes to mainstream school, beginning with fifth grade in the fall. The idea of this terrifies Auggie; he knows how people react to seeing him, and he wonders if he will be able to fit in at school at all.
He bravely gives it a go, but finds that it’s much like he expected. Many of the children laugh at him behind his back, and someone has started a game called the Plague, in which people “catch” a “disease” if they touch Auggie. One boy, Julian, leads the bullying attacks. He’s the sort of kid whom adults find charming, but in reality, he is quite mean to anyone not in his circle of friends.
Auggie does make two close friends: Summer, a girl who actually likes Auggie for who he is, and Jack. Jack started out as Auggie’s “assigned” friend, and when Auggie finds this out, he and Jack have a falling out. However, they patch things up at Christmas, after Jack gets suspended for hitting Julian for badmouthing Auggie.
This leads to a “war," with the popular boys against Auggie and Jack. While nothing more than mean words, in the form of notes in the lockers, fly between the two camps, the tension between them lasts until the spring. Then there's a confrontation between a group of older boys from a different school and Auggie and Jack at a sleep-away camp. They are hopelessly outnumbered until a group of boys who were formerly against Auggie and Jack help defend them from the bullies.
In the end, Auggie has a successful year at school, and even makes the Honor Roll. In addition, the school gives him an award for courage, which he doesn't understand, musing, “If they want to give me a medal for being me, I’ll take it.” (p. 306) He sees himself as ordinary, and in the face of everything else, he really is just that: an ordinary kid.
It‘s the straightforward, non-sentimental manner in which Palacio approaches her topic that makes this such an excellent book. Auggie might have an extraordinary face, but he's a regular kid, and that makes him relatable, in spite of his challenges. Palacio also shifts her point of view, telling the story through the eyes of characters other than Auggie. This allows the reader to get to know characters like Auggie's sister, Via, who talks about the way her brother takes over the family’s life. However, some of the other viewpoints—especially of Via’s friends—feel somewhat unnecessary and bog down the middle of the book.
The power of the book likes in how Palacio creates such a normal, relatable character from a boy living with such an extraordinary physical affliction. Even though "Wonder" is recommended for children ages 8 through 12, the book's themes of identity, bullying, and acceptance make it interesting reading for a wide audience as well.
About R.J. Palacio
An art director by profession, R. J. Palacio first thought of the idea for "Wonder" when she and her children were on vacation. While there, they saw a young girl who had a condition similar to Auggie’s. Her children reacted badly, which got Palacio thinking about the girl and what she goes through on a daily basis. Palacio also thought about how she could have better taught her children to respond to situations like this.
The book inspired Random House to start an anti-bullying campaign, called Choose Kind , with a site where people can share their experiences and sign a pledge to stamp out bullying. There you can also download an excellent Educator Guide for Wonder to use at home, or with a community grouop.
"Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories ," also by R. J. Palacio, is a 320-page collection of three stories, each told from the point of view of one of three characters from "Wonder": the bully Julian, Auggie’s oldest friend, Christopher, and his new friend, Charlotte. The stories take place prior to Auggie’s attending school and during his first year there.
This book is neither a prequel nor a sequel to "Wonder"—in fact, Palacio has made it clear that she does not plan to ever write either. Instead, this book is meant as a companion for those who have already read "Wonder" and want to extend the experience by learning more about Auggie's impact on the people around him.
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Book Review: Wonder
After hearing nothing but praise for R.J. Palacio’s book, Wonder, I had to get my hands on a copy. It is now one of my favorite young adult novels that I have read. Wonder is about a young boy named Auggie who has a craniofacial condition which affects the way he looks. The story follows Auggie who, after homeschooling all his life, starts attending a private middle school. Not only is the story as a whole beautiful, but R.J. Palacio’s writing skills are incredible. The book doesn’t really have “chapters” per se but it does have different parts that are written from the perspectives of different characters. This is what really makes the book stand out. It is so nice to be able to read the different characters’ thoughts and feelings about some of the same situations. This made Wonder truly great. Another amazing aspect of Wonder was the message the book conveys. The main character Auggie struggles throughout the book because he looks different from everyone around him. The story presents topics such as bullying and living with differences. It is not only helpful for other kids who may also have a craniofacial condition to relate with Auggie, but it encourages readers to always be kind. Since the book is aimed for more middle-school aged readers it is all the more important since middle-school is rough for almost everyone. Readers young and old should read this story as a reminder to never be prejudice and always be kind. Reviewer Grade: 12
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Review: Wonder (By R.J. Palacio)
Length: 316 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
August Pullman has a condition that makes his face very different, and he knows it makes him unpleasant to look at. Numerous surgeries necessary to keep him healthy have kept him from attending a regular school. After being homeschooled for years, August joins Beecher Prep and is about to start 5th Grade. All he wants is for the other kids to treat him normally. But he knows how people react to him and his face. And he knows that that is going to make ‘normal’ very difficult. As he overcomes his trepidation and begins to enjoy school, August faces new challenges and makes new friends too. Told from multiple perspectives, Wonder is August’s story of stepping out of his comfort and safe zone, and venturing into the world.
The bottom line:
A sweet story that avoids the true realities of the world we live in and reminds you what it’s like to lose yourself in a tale of fiction where things are meant to make sense.
Wonder is written in the first person perspective of August, his sister, her boyfriend, and some of their friends. Each person’s character comes through easily enough and holds its own without seeming too much like the same person. The story moves along smoothly enough, although there do seem to be some jumps in the timeline that are a little too abrupt. Some additional details on certain events would surely have added to the book. There are also a few tangents that are begun but that don’t really go anywhere or even get mentioned again, leaving you wondering why they were there in the first place.
It is a feel-good book in which things that go wrong fall into place soon enough. However, I did feel that sometimes, these instances were a little too easy and a little too convenient. Often, behaviors that led to things getting solved aren’t explained and you just have to accept that it is the way it is. This is in stark contrast to the other angle of the book where people are shown to be hesitant in accepting anything different (as often seen in reality). That’s why the book comes across as an odd mixture of real-world view and fictional paradise.
Given this stand, I felt that Wonder is one of those books that you read to feel warm and fuzzy inside. It wasn’t completely realistic and that was a good thing. Sometimes, you want to read a book that helps you escape the reality that surrounds you every day. The negativity that the book has, at the same time, builds a strong case for the main character and gives you a reason to root for and against someone – which makes the book even more enjoyable.
The story itself is very sweet. August is quite likable, and all the other characters are easy to associate with too. All in all, Wonder is a good book and one that definitely has a lesson within its story. It is powerful enough in its prose to change minds and hopefully, will help make the world a little kinder by influencing the people who read it. And that’s why I would recommend Wonder to:
- fans of fiction, including young adults and adults
- fans of young adult books
- anyone looking for a sweet, comfortable read
- anyone looking to slip into a world that’s a little more black and white than the one around us, if just for a few hours
Have you read Wonder ? Are you going to watch the movie based on it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Author: Rishika S.
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A review of Wonder By R. J. Palacio
Wonder By R. J. Palacio Penguin Books Ltd 3 Sept 2018, Hardcover, 704 pg, ISBN-13: 978-0241368381
There is a saying that there are two sides to every story. Wonder by R. J. Palacio shows that there are actually many sides to a story. Wonder tells a story from the perspective of six different characters. I would highly recommend this book for people aged nine and above.
The main character in Wonder is August Pullman: Auggie. He is a funny and sensitive ten-year-old boy from New York who was born with a facial deformity. The story follows his first year at school, after having been home schooled. Auggie wants to feel normal but this is hard when people stare at him and avoid him. Jack Will is one of the first friends that Auggie makes at Beecher Prep. Jack and Auggie become friends when Auggie lets Jack copy his work in class. The boys make each other laugh a lot, which forms the basis for a fun friendship.
Julian Albans is Auggie’s bully at Beecher Prep and makes Auggie’s life a misery. He is an only child who is spoilt by his family. Popularity is important to Julian, which is why he makes fun of Auggie. He is described as “the kind of kid who’s one way in front of grown-ups and another way in front of kids.” Olivia Pullman or Via, is Auggie’s older sister and is a freshman at Faulkner High School. She is overly protective of her brother but often feels like she is not important to her family due to the constant care that her brother needs. She feels like she is always seen as Auggie’s sister and not as Via Pullman.
The moral of the story is not to judge a book by its cover. Because people would judge Auggie by his looks and not his personality, they failed to make friends with a nice person.
Wonder will remind readers to be nicer to people, even if they don’t look the same. It also implies that if at first you’re not popular, in the end you will be accepted for your true colours and be more than you thought you would ever grow to be. Wonder gave me mixed emotions – I felt happy and sad, and a range of emotions in between. Wonder is also a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. Are you ready to meet Auggie Pullman?
About the reviewer: Cleo was Commended in the 2019 Hunter Writers’ Centre/Compulsive Reader Review competition. She is in Grade 6 and her favourite subjects are novel study, reading groups and writing. Cleo has participated in the Premier’s Reading Challenge since she started school. Cleo plays as the Goal Shooter and Goal Attack in her local netball team, which she loves. Cleo’s dream is to have a dog and her goals for the future are to complete high school with great grades and to start her own business.
Facing Up to It
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By Maria Russo
- April 6, 2012
Born with several genetic abnormalities, 10-year-old August Pullman, called Auggie, dreams of being “ordinary.” Inside, he knows he’s like every other kid, but even after 27 surgeries, the central character of “Wonder” bears facial disfigurations so pronounced that people who see him for the first time do “that look-away thing” — if they manage to hide their shock and horror.
“Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse,” he says of his face as the book begins. He’s used to the stares and mean comments, but he’s still terrified to learn that his parents have gotten him into middle school at Beecher Prep and want him to go there rather than be home-schooled. But they persuade him to give it a try — and by the time this rich and memorable first novel by R. J. Palacio is over, it’s not just Auggie but everyone around him who has changed.
Stories about unusual children who long to fit in can be particularly wrenching. At their core lurks a kind of loneliness that stirs primal fears of abandonment and isolation. 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, um, earthy sense of humor that all kids love. Over the years his parents, Nate and Isabel, have turned the disturbing story of Auggie’s birth into high comedy involving a flatulent nurse who fainted at the sight of him, and they persuade him to go to Beecher by riffing hilariously on the name of the school’s director, Mr. Tushman. It also helps that the Pullmans’ world — they live in a town house in “the hippie-stroller capital of upper Upper Manhattan” — is the privileged, educated upper-middle class, that hotbed of parents who hover and micromanage the lives of their perfectly fine children. It’s somehow weirdly satisfying to see what happens when something actually alarming enters this zone of needless anxiety. Palacio carves a wise and refreshing path, suggesting that while even a kid like August has to be set free to experience the struggles of life, the right type of closeness between parents and children is a transformative force for good.
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, switching narrators every few chapters to include Auggie’s friends and his teenage sister, Via, who wrestles with her resentment, guilt and concern. “We circle around him like he’s still the baby he used to be,” she observes ruefully. And we see the vicious politics of fifth-grade popularity played out as the class bully targets Auggie and starts a campaign to shun him, culminating in an overnight school trip that turns scary and shuffles the social deck in ways no one could have imagined.
While I sobbed several times during “Wonder,” my 9-year-old daughter — who loved the book and has been pressing it on her friends — remained dry-eyed. She didn’t understand why I thought Auggie’s situation might upset her. “I like kids who are different,” she said. I realized that what makes her cry are stories in which children suffer because they have missing or neglectful parents and no one to take care of them. Perhaps Palacio’s most remarkable trick is leaving us with the impression that Auggie’s problems are surmountable in all the ways that count — that he is, in fact, in an enviable position.
By R. J. Palacio
315 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $15.99. (Middle grade; ages 8 to 12)
Maria Russo is a frequent contributor to the Book Review.
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