Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wonder by RJ Palacio

Premise: August feels like an ordinary kid. The trouble is that no one else sees him as ordinary. That's because Auggie has a severe facial anomaly. Wonder chronicles Auggie's fifth grade year, his first in a school. How will others treat him? Will he be bullied? How can his peers learn to see past his appearance?
Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Realistic fiction
Series or Stand-Alone: Stand-alone
Content appropriate for: Grades 4-8
4 stars

3 adjectives to describe this book: memorable, engaging, complex

I had read so many positive reviews of Wonder from teachers I respect, that I knew that I had to read this book. Frankly, though, I didn't expect to love it as much as they did. Heartwarming realistic fiction just isn't my thing these days. I was wrong.

Nothing could have prepared me for the simple and powerful story in these pages. As a fifth grade teacher, reading about fifth graders, from the first-person perspective of fifth graders, I am simply amazed by how RJ Palacio knows children.

Initially I rated Wonder 5 stars, but on further reflection I reduced it to 4. The ending of Wonder is just a bit too Mighty Ducks for me - "And everyone lived happily ever after." That's nice and feels good, but it's just not very real.

I really want to share this book with my class. I love how it illustrates the complexities surrounding motivations and impacts of our actions. I also found her portrayal of social dynamics at this age to be both accurate and instructive. I only hesitate to read this aloud because of a few references to boobs and kissing.

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