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on March 7, 2012
As a Children's and Teen Librarian, I read a lot of kid lit, yet rarely review. I always think there are enough voices out there, but in the case of Wonder - I am making an exception. This is one phenomenal book - the characters are well drawn and the various narrators' voices are authentic and individual. I stayed up until 1 AM to finish my galley copy(quietly crying) and cannot wait to put the book into readers' hands. What a debut!!! I can hear the medals clanking already.
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on December 8, 2012
I'm a middle school English teacher who recently learned that some extra funds exist for another class set of novels. I read "Wonder" because I'm looking for a book to add to those my sixth graders will study. From the synopsis and other reviews, "Wonder" sounded like it could be particularly engaging for middle schoolers.

The story was indeed great. The author did a good job of relating events from several different characters' points of view, no easy feat. She made each character's voice believable. Initially, I was very excited about how easily the story sucked me in, and I could also imagine that the main dilemma presented in the novel - of whether or not a person with extreme facial deformities could find acceptance in middle school - would make for some excellent class discussions.

Unfortunately, though, I could never invest our school's limited funds in this novel, as it contains far too many references to fleeting fads. I get that the author was probably aiming to make the characters sound more like real kids, with talk of Ugg boots, Xbox games, iMacs, and different kids' cartoons (along with the charcters' use of transient catchphrases like, "I know, right?"), but the many mentions of brand names effectively ruined the novel's chances of becoming classic young adult fiction. In another couple of years, this book is going to seem VERY out of date. Looking down the road, I could just imagine the class time I'd have to waste, explaining what all these things were and why they were included in the book.

Also, the author made a mistake in having the main characters be fifth graders. I know the world of New York City private schools might be different, but across the rest of the U.S., middle school typically begins in sixth or even seventh grade. In my experience, fifth graders do not face the kinds of social pressures August and his friends describe. Ten-year-olds are typically nowhere near as developmentally advanced. My sixth graders are aware enough to pick up on this descrepancy. Additionally, I was not a fan of the way the 15-year-old sister's relationship with her boyfriend was portrayed. The way the characters (freshmen in high school) so casually kissed in front of the girl's family, like serious romantic relationships and assumed physical involvement are normal and desirable for younger high schoolers, did not feel right.

In summary, the story itself, along with the use of multiple narrators and their correspondingly believable voices, made the book highly engaging and entertaining. It's just too bad the author had to ruin things with so many mentions of fads and brand names. Without those, the novel could have become a classic. As it is, I'm not ordering it for my sixth graders.
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VINE VOICEon March 7, 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with severe and life-threatening craniofacial abnormalities. After a young lifetime of wall-to-wall corrective surgeries, he still stops people dead in their tracks when they first encounter his visage.

And now ten year-old Auggie Pullman, who has been kept relatively protected -- living in a New York City neighborhood where he is a known quantity, and being homeschooled by his mother -- is attending a real school for the first time. It is a private middle school to which his parents submitted an application without telling him first.

WONDER took me by surprise. I've read enough stories about the outsider in middle school, so there are some things you come to expect. But what I did not expect was for the story to really take off a quarter of the way through when the point of view suddenly switches to that of Olivia, arguably the book's pivotal character. "Via" is Auggie's high school-aged sister, and she had once upon a time been a doted-upon first child and first grandchild until Auggie was born and immediately sucked up all the oxygen in the room with his medical issues.

Then, further on, when I thought we would once again return to Auggie's perspective, we instead move on to the points of view of a series of other young characters who have become part of Auggie's story and have their own relationships with him and their own takes on and his situation.

Sure, there are lots and lots of stories with multiple perspectives. But I am really impressed by the power brought to this story through the use of the format and through the respect that the author shows for her middle school audience in probing the honest and sometimes complex and sometimes unpretty emotions inside the story's young and adult characters.

"her parents couldn't be nicer. put me at ease right away. the waiter brings over the menus and i notice his expression the moment he lays eyes on august. but i pretend not to notice. i guess we're all pretending not to notice things tonight. the waiter. my tics. the way august crushes tortilla chips on the table and spoons the crumbs into his mouth. i look at olivia and she smiles at me. she knows. she sees the waiter's face. she sees my tics. olivia is a girl who sees everything."

As I've previously pointed out, when I've written about other stories involving name-calling and intolerance, middle schoolers learning about acceptance amongst one another can oftentimes serve as THE pivotal step in their growing up with a predisposition toward accepting those individuals and groups from outside one's own community, religion, race, sexual orientation, and country. Thus, WONDER is both a great and an important story. The Schneider Family Book Award people will no doubt be giving this one a long look.
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VINE VOICEon February 25, 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Auggie Pullman, main character of Wonder by RJ Palacio has been home schooled his entire life because of a severe facial deformity. This year all that is about to change as Auggie will go to a real school for the first time- and begin fifth grade at Beecher Prep. Wonder details Auggie's first year attending school -with it's ups and downs. Palacio masterfully conveys themes of family, friendship, and bullying in her debut middle grade novel.

Wonder is divided into eight parts with are told through a different character's perspective. The first and last parts are told through Auggie's perspective which brings all of the parts together. The chapters are very short. Palacio is not one to waste words and thus the pacing of Wonder is very tight and moves along.

Yet, what truly drives Wonder by RJ Palacio are the characters. Auggie is a sweet, earnest kid who loves Star Wars. He handles reactions to his deformity very well, he is used to people reacting badly to his face. Yet, we see his vulnerable side too. He is very realistically drawn. Via, August's older sister, is another exceptional character we meet in Wonder. We see her struggle between being Auggie's protector, the girl who everyone knows as August's sister, the easy child and between forming an identity for herself at her new high school. It's quite a touching side story and speaks to the complexity of family interactions.

The overall message of Wonder is one that really resonates with me and I think will resonate with other readers. Palacio shows that kindness is necessary and something we should endeavor to treat others with. I think in our fast paced world treating others with dignity is something to strive towards and not forget, and Wonder beautifully reinforces this idea.
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on November 18, 2013
Hi, My name is Trinity and I am on my nana's kindle. I am in sixth grade and in english my teacher, Mrs.Boltz is making us read Wonder… At first I thought Oh great another boring school novel I will have to read... But after about ten to twenty chapters in I realized this book is amazing. Not only is it amazing but I can related to it because my uncle is mentally challegned and is in a mechanical wheelchair and everytime I go out in public with him I feel a little like Via (the sister of the boy with the facial disformitty) because everyone is staring at him and people talk about him right in front of his face like he can't hear them... and its sad because people treat him, a 34 year old man like a 4 year old child. I absouletly love this book and I can not thank the author enought because not only is she telling a story about a boy with a facial disformitty she is showing kids and adults what it feels like to be different and what it feels like to go through what he is going through and be bullied and picked on.
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on May 13, 2013
I had read a review on here, that the author should have told the entire story from the main character - August Pullman's perspective. But for me, it worked just the way it is. I wouldn't change a single thing in this well written, heartwarming story. And for my 9 year old daughter, seeing August through the eyes of several different characters was helpful.

Like with so many great books, we laughed and cried and didn't want the book to end.
In a few years, when my youngest child is 8 or 9, I will be reading it with him as well. I think every child should read it. It will help teach the "regular" looking kids what the children with anomalies and their families already know - that they are normal kids and are just hoping to be accepted for what's inside them, not judged by their appearances.
Auggie Pullman has a special place in our hearts.
This was a library book, but we'll be buying it in hardcover this weekend. It's one of those!
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VINE VOICEon March 7, 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the one book I will be recommending to my children, their friends and to their teachers as well. It's such a lovely book and easy to read as well. I first heard of this book on Entertainment Weekly as one of their Top 10 of the week. I don't always agree with their reviews or selections, but this time, they hit it on the nose.

This is an absolutely beautiful book and definitely, my sons can relate to it since they both wear hearing aids (the description of Auggie not wanting to wear hearing aids is exactly how my sons feel ... but they do it because they want to hear). I have one of my nine-year-olds reading it this week and hopefully, his twin will read it soon because it's such a wonderful book, perfect for their age level and yet, not dumbed down either. They're going through a lot of the same issues that Auggie faced in this book and it's just heart-warming to see people looking past his deformities to the real person inside.

Auggie (August) is a ten-year-old entering middle school for the first time since he had been home-schooled his entire life due to the numerous surgeries and treatments he has had since birth. He was born with birth defects that made his features look abnormal and just not in a small way either. It was obvious, in your face kind of way and while Auggie grew up surrounded by his parents' love, he never really had a lot of friends. He entered middle school and that first year was filled with surprises, not all bad and not all great. It's a perfect coming-of-age story set in what I consider to be the most horrendous years of schooling ...

There are several voices in this book as well and I loved reading the different perspectives from people in Auggie's life, coming from Summer and Jack, his friends, and his sister and her friends. It's a neat way to get different viewpoints from different people who knew Auggie all of his life or just met him and saw past the ugly exterior to find the kind soul that lurks beneath his face.

As an adult, I might have expected a more meatier story-line because that is what I am used to reading but this is perfect for kids who are interested in broadening their reading horizons and this will get them to hopefully start talking, especially about bullies and making friends in the murky years of tween years. It is a perfect book for parents to share with their kids and that is what I am trying to do with my own.

It is definitely one of my favorite reads of this year!

3/7/12
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on March 5, 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
WONDER by R. J. Palacio is a fantastic book that is easy to read and children of upper elementary and middle school age would greatly benefit from it, as well as like it. WONDER is the story of August Pullman, Auggie, who was born with a severe facial deformity, He is one of those kids who makes his physical abnormality invisible once you get to know him because of how great a kid he is. I am sure we all know people who are like this in certain ways. Auggie is an amazing child who is not only a nice person you like right away but has so much else going for him including being quite intelligent. He is a grand example of how people are often times more beautiful on the inside and because of that, it shines through to the outside. Auggie is accustomed to being stared at and knows that people will look and point but takes it all in stride as he also has a wonderful attitude and personality.

Having been home schooled for years, it is decided it is time for Auggie to attend school and so is enrolled for fifth grade and although he's frightened, says he will at least try it. It is no surprise that Auggie learns many valuable lessons as he learns that not everyone is as nice as he is. He also, however, changes some of the others' attitudes and the highs and lows of the story will keep you turning pages and reaching for a Kleenex from time to time. Palacio writes so well that readers can relate to all the characters and events because of the different points of view that are used to give the story such well developed realism. As a middle school teacher for many years, I can see this story played out in so many ways and would highly recommend it to that age group, as well as adults who want an easy and thought provoking story.
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on June 29, 2013
This was a great book. It's a fast read, but really allows you to connect with the characters. I was cheering at the end.
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on November 3, 2013
RJ Palacio tells the heart-breaking story of a child with severe cranio-facial abnormalities facing school for the first time. Adults and children alike cringe at the first sight of his face, but August is brave and steadfast in his quest to be accepted by his classmates. The author tells his story from his sister's viewpoint as well as those of some classmates and his parents. Reading this book with a child can stimulate lively discussions about how people with differences are treated in our world, and how everyone should strive to look beyond ones appearance and look to the person inside.
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