Gift Idea of the Day #1: Wonder, by RJ Palacio

I’m trying something new- since it’s the time of year where pretty much everyone is in a panic over what to buy for the children in their lives- and what the children in their lives like these days- I decided to share what we’ve enjoyed and appreciated over the last year or so, and what the boys are interested in now. So… idea number one, in the “something to read” category:
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, by RJ Palacio.

We give Wonder 5 stars, and that’s rare. We are pretty tough critics! CEO and I read Wonder last spring. He had just finished Where the Red Fern Grows and needed something uplifting. I had just finished Wonder, so I gave it to him to read on our 13 hour drive at the end of vacation week. It’s the story of Auggie, a boy with a severely disfigured face whose family decides to send him to a private school for fifth grade. He had been home-schooled until then, and has to interact with people his age- and their reactions to him- for the first time on a daily basis. The best part about Wonder, though, is that the story is told from at least 8 different viewpoints. It starts with Auggie, but then the point of view shifts to his sister, the people in his class, his sister’s boyfriend… all with at least a chapter in their first person narrative. I loved that this shows the many points of view of one situation, and that it also shows how people might be acting one way but thinking another. It is a terrific way to explain how your interpretation of someone’s behavior might be wrong, that everyone has more going on in their lives than they’re letting on. We’ve had several conversations since about things happening at school where I’ll say something like, “It’s like in Wonder. Auggie sees things one way, but then you read the next chapter and find out something else had happened to that person, causing him to do whatever hurt Auggie’s feelings, and that was never the intention.”

Auggie and Me is the sequel to Wonder. I checked it out of the library before we went camping last summer, but before I could read it CEO claimed it on the beach, read it non-stop, packed it in his bag, and returned it to the library when we got home. He says it is just as good as Wonder… maybe even a little better, because there’s a chapter from Auggie’s nemesis, Julian, whose point of view we never read in the first book.

I think CEO was at just the right age and stage- 10, almost 11, in fourth grade- for the book. That said, I loved it as much as he did, so we recommend it for ages 10 and up. It’s an uplifting story, and the lesson on perspective is masterfully done. Happy reading!

What do you think? Please tell us!

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