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Wonder by R.J. Palacio


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Children's Book of the Month

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Published by Bodley Head, 2012

Auggie Pullman is a ten-year-old boy who has been home-schooled up to now, his family making this decision because of Auggie’s facial disfigurement. After several operations and illnesses he is still vulnerable to the stares and cruelty of his peers and the world in general.

The book opens just as Auggie is about to start his first year at “real school.”
He has mixed emotions about this massive change in his life, yearning to be part of the gang and to fit in but knowing that this might never be possible.

Totally averse to the idea and scared stiff at first, Auggie is won over by his Dad who never fails to make him laugh. On the day he goes to meet the principal of Beecher Prep he doesn’t realise that he will be taken on a guided tour of the school by three of his soon to be classmates. That’s scary enough but not as daunting as lunch in the school cafeteria.

But bit by bit with the help of one of the best teachers in the world and the support of some amazing and loyal friends, Auggie not only is accepted but becomes everyone’s friend.

The reader will identify with his unwillingness to talk when he doesn’t feel like it and his mixed emotions common to boys who are moving into their teenage years. Never self-pitying Auggie is above all else and despite his disabilities, your average pre-teen boy authentically presented to us by Palacio.

Though Auggie is bullied at school at first, his humour, honesty and bravery prevent the book from becoming a depressing read. His admirable personality traits are what win in the end ensuring that he is respected and accepted as a friend.

The story is told through a variety of voices, Auggie’s, his sister Via’s, and two of his friends, Jack and Summer, making the story more realistic and allowing the reader to examine the effect Auggie’s condition has on other people.

You will finish this book in one sitting and feel compelled to talk about it and pass it on to others. Suited to all ages it will be equally enjoyed by older children, teenagers and adults alike.

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