Author: R. J. Palacio
Illustrator: R.J. Palacio
"Wonder" Doctors have come from distant cities Just to see me Stand over my bed Disbelieving what they're seeing They say I must be one of the wonders Of god's own creation And as far as they can see they can offer No explanation Newspapers ask intimate questions Want confessions They reach into my head To steal the glory of my story They say I must be one of the wonders Of god's own creation And as far as they can see they can offer No explanation O, I believe Fate smiled and destiny Laughed as she came to my cradle Know this child will be able Laughed as my body she lifted Know this child will be gifted With love, with patience and with faith She'll make her way People see me I'm a challenge to your balance I'm over your heads How I confound you and astound you To know I must be one of the wonders Of god's own creation And as far as you can see you can offer me No explanation O, I believe Fate smiled and destiny Laughed as she came to my cradle Know this child will be able Laughed as she came to my mother Know this child will not suffer Laughed as my body she lifted Know this child will be gifted With love, with patience and with faith She'll make her way
August lives with his mom, his dad, his sister, Via, and his dog Daisy. In school he befriends Summer and Jack Will. Summer introduces herself to August on the first day of school and they become close friends. The principal had paired Jack Will up with August to help him get through the first days of school. Jack Will and August have some ups and downs at the beginning of the year, but they form a great friendship, not because Jack Will feels sorry for August, but because they both really like each other as people.
The story is about the struggles that August faces this year in school. He has to face bullies from his school, other schools, and people who just do not know how to react to his appearance. It takes almost the entire school year, but the students and teachers come to know August for who he is and not for his appearance.
Wonder is told from the point-of-view of several of the main characters. I am reminded of Because of Mr. Terupt, a story written from the point-of-view of the students in a 5th grade class and their experiences and growth over the school year.We see how August's self-confidence grows over the year as he experiences the challenges of middle school, including insensitive students and parents.
We also hear from Summer and Jack Will. We see how they feel about August and how after a few weeks, they really do not notice the physical differences in August.
I found the chapters from Via, August's sister and Miranda, Via's best friend from middle school, the most interesting. Via feels like she is in a solar system revolving around August. She accepts her role in this system, but is struggling now that she is in high school and needs her parents more invovled in her life. Miranda has been close with Via most of her life, but their friendship is suffering. Miranda feels closer to Via's family than to her own, but she has isolated herself from Via in high school. Via and Miranda both love August.
The overall theme of the book is kindnes. August learns that he needs to be more trusting of others because a lot of people are really kind and sometimes their kindness is even surprising. It is the kindness of his friends that help him get through the year, but his kindness also helps others. As August goes through the school year, he forms relationships with his classmates and they all get to know each other and see each other beyond their appearances. August's family has always seen him as a wonder, but now his classmates see August as a wonder as well.
Check out the faq for this book. This book is fiction, but based on an experience that R. J. Palacio had when she took her children out for ice cream. She found herself sitting next to a child with a "craniofacial difference." R.J. Palacio was not proud of the way she reacted and that night heard the song Wonder by Natalie Merchant. Those two things inspired the writing of this book. The lyrics to the song are included and really help summarize the book. I hope that reading this type of book would help anyone think twice before reacting to someone that is different.
I like that this book was inspired by a real-life experience. I always wonder where I could get my ideas for a story, and I realize that any experience can be turned into a story, I just have to realize it. I think it's amazing that R.J. Palacio tied her experience to the song by Natalie Merchant. They work perfectly together!
(There is another "chapter" to this book coming out in May!
The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story by R. J. Palacio (May 13, 2014)
Julian was a boy in the school who really made life difficult for August. Julian's parents did not want August at the school and even photoshopped August out of the class photo. Julian is finishing off 5th grade at the school, but he is leaving the school for 6th grade.)