The start of a new school year is ripe with opportunity and provide a chance to make new friends, learn new skills, and grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally. Books such as WONDER by R. J. Palacio can play a significant role as children navigate these important changes.
Ten-year-old August Pullman was born with severe facial deformities. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse, Auggie says in the book’s opening. Safe and beloved in his home-schooled environment until now, at the start of his story Auggie’s entering fifth grade in a public school for the first time in his life.
The book is told in alternating voices, starting with Auggie’s and switching to his older sister, whose life has been affected by having such a brother; his supposed new best friend, who betrays Auggie; his parents, and even his sister’s boyfriend. The chorus of different voices shows the reader the multi-faceted version of any story involving a person with physical differences. WONDER is an uplifting story about a community coming together, in fits and starts, to grow in compassion, empathy, and understanding.