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Wonder (Wonder, #1)
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Fiction Club Archive > May 2014 Fiction Choice - Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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Jasmine | 160 comments May's Fiction Club choice is the acclaimed book by R.J. Palacio, Wonder. We are excited to discuss this as it has been widely discussed in the genre over the past year+ and is now required reading in many school programs. We look forward to hearing what you think!

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Yay! I hope you all enjoy this book. Maybe I'll even re-read it. :)

Tricia Douglas (teachgiftedkids) | 312 comments I read this wonderful book a couple of months ago for one of my book clubs. It is a 'must-read' for both adults and children. Here is the review I posted:

By the time we're adults we've read several books where the underdog works hard and makes it to the top - everyone finding out that this character is a wonderful person. But when you read a book written for children, at a young person's level, you learn so much more and are refreshed and comforted by this type of plot all over again. Palacio has written a superb novel for children (and adults) teaching us all how fragile life can be and how important it is to learn to love and be kind to everyone. This story is told from the perspective of several young fifth grade children and a couple of older students. The adult teachers interact, but minimally. We see the growth of Auggie and his friends over the length of a school year. Even though Auggie knows school will be difficult because of his facial abnormalities, he loves school and perseveres with the teasing, cliques, and bullying. The ending is predictable, but still one that is strong and emotional. I'm glad I finally found time to read this great book; it has been calling out to me for a long time!

message 4: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Apr 29, 2014 01:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2275 comments Mod
I read this book about a year ago. I didn't write a very long review, but I really loved the book:

A real tear-jerker of a book; wonderfully empathetic and sympathetic characters; a plot that is carried forward by the different points of views of several of the characters; a beautiful affirmation of the human spirit.

I remember reading some reviews by others that dissed the upbeat ending, but I thought that was one of the best parts of the book.

message 5: by Cheryl, Newbery Club host (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 6179 comments Mod
Did enjoy this, but thought Summer or Jack should have won the award. They were the ones who were truly brave, doing something that was beyond normal for them. Auggie always wanted to be as normal as possible, and singling hìm out for doing what, for him, was only what he had to do, wasn't right. Imo. But to Auggie's credit, he did inform us that fifth grade is tough for everyone.

I would have liked a chapter from Julian's pov, though of course it's tough for writers to empathize with bullies. And I would have liked the kids' voices to sound more like kids, not so wise and insightful, though of course that's tough to write, too.

I'd welcome a sequel.

Michelle (mmolevin) | 5 comments I am so thrilled to hear that this book is required reading in many schools. I think it should be everywhere. This is an amazing book in helping the reader learn about how it feels to live in different people's skin. R.J. Palacio did a remarkable job showing the shades of grey in which all people, and their actions, reside. We understand, a bit, where Julian is coming from - Jack, Summer and Auggie's sister too. Impressively, this tale is told without being sappy or overly sad.

In my mind, this book is an incredible accomplishment.
I hope all children have to read it and think about what it feels like to be "other"

Tabatha | 1 comments I agree with Cheryl that both Jack and Summer are against the norm and the grain, and even a bit unrealistic, to give up any other friendships for August. Jack transforms from a passive follower to being able to stick up for August, and it would be good to see more of that actively take place.
Julian is a one-note character, who never gets a voice, and is conveniently eliminated, which is part of the book being contrived.
I feel that the book is insulting to the intelligence because all the voices of all the characters sound the same, adult or child. The adults seem there just to teach precepts and are pretty much flat caricatures. I think that the language is poor, and my daughter started saying "sucks" isn't a bad word, because it appears in this book. The slang and the grammar are deplorable, in the name of being hip and relatable to young people. "I know, right?"
Parts of the book are moving, because it is essentially a feel good book. I think that the sister is realistic in that she resents being neglected and everything being about her brother.
Is the premise realistic, is it too much to ask for a child with such a 1 in 4 million form of mandubulofacial dystosis to be mainstreamed in school?

message 8: by Cheryl, Newbery Club host (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 6179 comments Mod
Wow, what divergent reactions! Here's my take:

"Issues" books are problematic. The ground-breaking ones usually aren't all that wonderful. But they're important, of course. At this point, Wonder might well be the best book on this theme available to young readers. It's not like we have a lot of choices, like we do for books about kids with autism, or who have cancer (or other fatal conditions).

I may not be making myself clear. Think of the books by Danziger, Blume, et al - the first ones that acknowledged divorce, questions about sexuality, etc. Those were ground-breaking... and now there are better ones on those themes.

Think, too, of Annie on My Mind. It's not perfect, but is there a better choice yet? If so, please let me know.

Jennifer Sullivan (adventuresinstorytime) It's been a few months since I read this, so the details aren't fresh on my mind anymore, but I really liked this book. At first I had a little trouble with the constantly changing viewpoints, but once I got used to it I liked being able to see things from the various characters perspectives and know what they were thinking. I liked that it was not overly sappy, dramatic, or depressing, but that Auggie was just realistic and matter-of-fact about his facial deformity and the difficulties other people had in interacting with him because of it.

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Yoosong (rabbitsong2001) Oh I love this book. Even if I only read this in Korean,this is one of my favorite books.
I will read this in English, too.

message 11: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 69 comments I read Wonder a while ago, but Auggie and his family and friends are still with me. I love the way each chapter was narrated by a different character. I appreciated the relationship between Auggie and Olivia. Honest and real. I particularly remember when their dog was sick. The interaction was spot on. Olivia saying something along the lines of "get over yourself Auggie, see what is going on right in front of you". Another scene that is still with me is when Auggie's school goes on the trip. Students from another school begin to pick on Auggie. Auggie's friends and classmates come to his defense. We had a similar incident near my town. A student with special needs was being picked on by students from another town. Students came to his defense.
RJ Polacco wrote a beautiful novel that is a must read in my mind, not only for students but parents as well.

Jasmine | 160 comments I finished this up this weekend and I absolutely loved it. I agree with a few of the commentaries in that it is not just a children's book, it is for all. Not just because we are exposed to people that are different some not as dramatically as Auggie but that we are all different. In Auggie's voice, I heard all the 5th graders I know (there are several), the part that truly hit home were the text messaging between Jack and Auggie. I felt the voices of the children really reflected on how kids (and adults) think. I keep waiting for the section to be by voiced by Nate & Isabel (Auggie's parents) or Mr. Tushman and when I realized there wasn't one coming, I understood the author's purpose more and appreciated it.
I especially loved one of the end scenes in the car when Auggie's dad reveals that he threw out the helmet because he loves Auggie's face and he couldn't bear for him to hide it. I know the ending was a bit predictable or too happily ever after, however it was such a feel good and I agree with Auggie...every one deserves a standing ovation - even just once.

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Aimee | 54 comments I liked this book and have purchased it in hard cover as a birthday present for various middle school birthday parties.

One commenter felt that the adult characters were flat. I didn't find them flat so much as non-intrusive, and I found it refreshing that the adults seemed genuinely caring.

I did enjoy the ending. Auggie's standing ovation was, I thought, touching. It also seemed to me to be something that everyone in the audience shared in that many people had grown over the course of the school year.

I think kindness is powerful, so I loved the theme of this book. A great read!

Helen A beautiful book. As a mum, I did tear up at Auggie's discussion with his Mum after a rough day at school - "Why do I have to be so ugly?" I could absolutely empathise with her sense of wanting to protect her son from the ugliness of people's prejudice. And his Dad's confession about the helmet - just wonderful. As mentioned, not too sure about the award & why Jack or Summer was not the recipient, but this did not deflect from a stunning novel for kids & adults alike. Cannot convey how much I loved this book.

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Aimee | 54 comments Yes, Helen. I agree that Auggie's dad's confession about the helmet was wonderful.

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Manybooks | 7028 comments Mod
The waiting list for this book at the library is huge; I've been waiting for it seems like forever.

Jasmine | 160 comments Gundula wrote: "The waiting list for this book at the library is huge; I've been waiting for it seems like forever."

Hang in there G, it's SO worth it!

message 18: by SamZ (new) - rated it 5 stars

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments We read this for my neighborhood book club a little while ago, and I wasn't looking forward to it at all. I really dislike books about kids with disabilities in the mainstream school setting: I find them preachy and too emotional to be worth it. Mind you, my degree is in Special Education and I used to teach kids in Jr High and High school with severe disabilities, so maybe it's just too much for me. Anyway, here's what I thought after I read the book:
This book was one of those that makes you want to go out and buy it as soon as you're finished with it. Buy several copies. And mail them to your family and friends. Basically, I LOVED it.
The premise, a boy with serious facial deformities starting middle school, wasn't really too interesting to me, but since my book club was reading it this month I picked it up at the library. It sat on a shelf as I put it off to read other things, but when I finally did pick it up - I stayed up until 4 am to keep reading!
Auggie is a sweet, happy kid with an amazing family - and that kind of home support shows in his courage to try new things every day. I loved the way Auggie's personality draws people to him, despite some rather obvious barriers. I think my favorite part of this book, however, is the way Auggie gains confidence in himself throughout the book. At the beginning, we are always hearing about how people look at him and how he walks with his head down to keep people from seeing him. As he gains friends and confidence, however, Auggie no longer focuses on himself and his face, and tells us more about his environment, his friends, etc. If you were to just read the last fifteen chapters or so, you probably wouldn't even pick up on the fact that there is something different about Auggie's face!
Of course this book brings to mind the fact that beauty is only skin deep and what a person is really like can't be discerned by merely looking at them. But it's also a great story about a normal kid overcoming some challenges and learning to find his place as he grows up and becomes more a part of the world around him. Also, the author's inclusion of her own story as a chapter in the section about Jack (when he goes to get ice cream with his babysitter), was a fun little Easter egg that I absolutely adored!

Karen | 2 comments I loved this book. I read it to my fifth graders and they loved this book. They would beg me to read it every day. When I was transferred to third grade, I grieved over not being able to use it as a read aloud. My colleague used it but I still feel that fifth graders "get it" so I tell every fifth grade teacher I know about it.

We had some incredible discussions almost daily. Kids shared their own experiences getting a "standing ovation" and not ever getting a standing ovation. They asked me if I had ever had one and I said no. On the last day of school before summer break, I had been out in the hall for a couple minutes taking down some of their work from the bulletin boards and suddenly it got way too quiet in the room. I walked back in to see what was going on and they were all standing and applauding. "This is for you, Mrs. D!" What a way to end the year!

I am still looking for a book that will have the kind of impact this book had in my classroom.

message 20: by Gail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gail (appleshoelace) | 25 comments I loved this book too, although the ending was overly sentimental and cheesy. I actually liked the ordinariness of it - the fact that Auggie wasn't particularly brave and didn't have to do anything extraordinary to get accepted. It was just an organic thing where he was in the class, being an ordinary kid with an extraordinary disfigurement, and the kids eventually simply got used to him. Being in the class eventually meant he was one of them - although it took a situation where there were other schools for the kids to get more of a sense of that group mentality. The whole camping scene where the kids who disliked him suddenly saw him as part of their group, because they were in a situation with other schools who weren't part of their group and were being hostile to him - I found that very believable.

I was always the 'different' kid at school (not from anything visible, but from having Aspergers - I was seen as weird) and I moved school a lot. And realistically, that was how it worked - kids disliked or avoided me at first, but eventually I was seen as one of them. Not because I'd done anything amazing, but because they got used to me and I was part of the class, and when kids are in a bigger situation with other groups, suddenly they become loyal to their group and will stick up for anyone in it.

message 21: by Cheryl, Newbery Club host (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 6179 comments Mod
In Costco today I noticed two companion books to this. We can indeed learn Julian's pov now, by reading Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories.

And I might have to buy a copy of 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts, and use each page as a 'journal' page (it's been way too long since I kept a journal.) Otoh, I could collect my favorite quotations and make my own journal.

I'm a tiny bit turned off by the idea of the author exploiting her success, seems grasping somehow... but otoh these seem like worthy books, and they also seem more appropriate to me than a straight sequel would be. I believe fans of Auggie are probably happy.

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