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Monday, September 03, 2012

Wonder Deserves Praise for Graceful Prose, Touching Message

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

August Pullman's got a face that makes small children scream in fright.  Even adults can't stop themselves from reacting to it—they gasp, wince, stare or turn away in disgust.  The 10-year-old tries not to take offense.  After all, he knows what he looks like.  He does.  But he also knows that on the inside he's just an ordinary kid.  If others could look past his facial deformities and get to know him, they'd see there's more to August than just his Elephant Man exterior.

Because of all his health problems, August has never attended public school.  Until now.  He's nervous about starting 5th grade, even though the principal at Beecher Prep assures him all will be well.  Can August convince his new classmates to give him a chance?  Or will they, like everyone else, fail to see anything but his Halloween mask of a face?  

Wonder, a debut middle grade novel by R.J. Palacio, has been lauded all over the book blogosphere for its graceful prose and touching message.  It deserves the praise.  It absolutely does.  Wonder is an important book, one that teaches kindness and empathy without feeling too heavy-handed.  Heartwarming and hopeful, it's the kind of book that needs to be read by every child.  The story didn't blow me away like it did other reviewers, but it definitely spoke to me.  As it will, no doubt, to you.    

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a little of The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers; Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult; Butter by Erin Jade Lange; and The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux)

Grade:  B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for depictions of underage smoking and subject matter that is more suitable for older middle graders

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find 


  1. I think I might be alone in this, but I didn't really love Wonder. I didn't hate it either. It was just kind of a "meh" book with a cheesy way of presenting a good message. I thought the resolution came together too perfectly and (possibly I'm a cynic) but totally unbelievably. Like the principle crying at 5th grade graduation was way too over the top for me. Also, why were the 5th graders, who just started their first year of middle school, graduating anyway?

    I can understand why others like it; I just don't see why everyone LOVES it. Does that make sense?

    1. You're not alone! This is pretty much exactly how I felt, although the cheese didn't bother me as much as it did you. But, it's definitely a predictable, feel-good kind of book and one that I just didn't find as stunning as everyone else did. It was a little more than "meh" for me -- I liked it, I just didn't LOVE it, you know?

  2. I'm one of those people who LOVED it. Favorite book so far this year. Finally a book I can recommend to everyone. I've read so many YA that are totally inappropriate for the YA I know. Hoping I can find more books like this.

  3. I want to try this one but I'm afraid it will make me mad and make me cry. I just don't know if I can handle it.

  4. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't whack me over the head with its powerful message. I think I liked it more for its quieter story.


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