Review – Wonder

6 May

Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  Knopf, 2012

  • ISBN-13: 978-0375869020
  • Family drama; coming-of-age fiction; YA fiction

The plot:

August Pullman is not an average kid.  He’s ten years old and he was born with a severe facial deformity.  August’s family has always been very protective over him, but that didn’t prevent him from seeing the horrified looks people gave him when they caught sight of his face.  August has always been home-schooled, but now that he’s the right age to enter the fifth grade, his parents encourage him to go to Beecher Prep Middle School.  Everyone knows that the fifth grade is a tough year for anyone, but especially for August who must learn how to fit in, when he has always stuck out.

Book Snitch comments:

This is a novel which will appeal to readers of all ages.  The novel starts with August telling the story, and he wins you over immediately with his perceptive honesty and often witty narration.  Told from several different viewpoints, Palacio takes you on a memorable coming-of-age journey with August.  This is August’s story but there is are many moments that will resound with  the reader.  You’ll find yourself smiling, laughing, frowning, and tearing up as you share in August’s experiences.  Palacio creates a unique protagonist in a common situation, making Wonder an important and truly enjoyable read.

Who should read this?

Wonder is the perfect novel for readers aged nine and upwards.

Note for educators:

Wonder contains many school-related themes including: citizenship; health; bullying; family and education.  The language is suitable for a variety of reading levels, making Wonder an excellent class reader as part of a unit relating to one of the mentioned themes.  It could also be used as a way to promote awareness of equal opportunities and inclusion amongst your student body.

5 stars

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2 Responses to “Review – Wonder”

  1. Julie May 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Love your new blog – great name. I’m going to be teaching a section of Grade 8 English next year and I’m thinking of doing Wonder for summer reading. It maybe a little young for grade 8 but it has a lot of great citizenship ideas as we want the grade 8s to be setting the tone/culture of the MS next year.
    Any thoughts on this or other suggestions for summer reading?

    • chloe7ed May 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for your comment, and for visiting Book Snitch! I think that your grade eight students would really enjoy reading Wonder; the narration is very accessible. August is very likeable and honest character which really makes the unfair way he is treated by others stand out to the reader. The beauty of Palacio using other first person narrators (such as August’s sister and his school mates) is that the reader gets to see the issue from different perspectives, which I think is important when teaching citizenship and empathy. Ultimately discrimination and bullying usually stems from a culture of fear, and Palacio shows this in the novel.

      One way you might want to approach the reading of the novel, is to have your students keep a journal as they read. I would advise asking them to write one journal entry for each of the eight parts (the narrator alternates in each part, with August narrating parts one, six and eight). You could ask them to keep a physical journal. Or you could use a blog (I would recommend Edublogs) and ask your students to comment on posts which you write for each of the eight parts. You can set up your Edublog so that you approve the comments your students submit. This in itself is another way to approach citizenship – appropriate commenting and interaction using a blog. You can see an example post and student comments from my Edublog which I used with my grade eight students this year based on The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas. You will see in this example I only allowed students to comment on my post which asked them to respond with their observations about one of the characters. From my experience, students repond well to seeing comments from their peers and it encourages communication and discussion.

      You might want to guide their journals/comments with guiding questions based on aspects of the novel that relate to the Citizenship unit you have planned. For example: ‘how it feels to be excluded’; ‘how do schools try to make everyone feel included?’; ‘what affects the way that other see you?’; ‘how does peer pressure affect our decisions?’ etc.

      I hope these ideas are useful, and I would love to hear how your students respond to Wonder!

      Chloe (Book Snitch)

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