Wonder ISBN: 9780370332284
Palacio, R. J.
Published by Bodley Head, 2012
August (Auggie) feels like an ordinary kid inside, but his face tells those on the outside a different story. He was born with a cleft palate, but his eyes are also too far down in his face, he has no proper ears and wears hearing aids, there are scars on his face due to surgery, and he doesn't have cheek bones. His sister Via says 'his features look like they have been melted.' He also has other health problems, and over the years has had to submit to many different surgical procedures. His parents have been over-protective, understandably, as everyone who sees him is shocked and horrified, and so he has been home schooled. This year is going to be different. He is starting fifth grade at the local prep school (this is New York City), and he isn't at all sure this is a good idea. Told in the first person by Auggie himself (and sometimes by others: his sister, his friends Jack and Summer, etc.), this long and very believable novel tells us much about Auggie himself, what he thinks about people's reaction to his face, his fears about school, his loving parents and sister, his dog Daisy, and about life in general. School is very hard at first. The kids are not welcoming, except for Jack who sits by him in class and Summer who sits with him at lunch. When he discovers by accident that Jack has been asked by the headmaster to be friendly to him, he believes that is the only reason Jack has been nice. There is a rupture in the friendship, a very plausible one, that saddens both boys, but apologies follow. There is a lot of bullying and a really unpleasant episode at camp. Auggie grows up enormously over the year, as do his classmates, and at the fifth grade graduation ceremony (this is New York after all!) Auggie wins the all- school medal for 'the student whose quiet strength has carried up the most hearts'. Barring the somewhat sentimental ending, this is a super story. Auggie is tremendously lovable, as are his family, and when his classmates come to know him, they learn he is just an ordinary boy underneath the 'mushed up' face. Highly readable and most enjoyable as a story, it also says a great deal about how we all should treat disability.
Age: 10+