Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wonder by RJ Palacio

When I sat down to review this book I opened at a random page and read “sometimes you don’t have to mean to hurt someone to hurt someone.” This is the kind of hurt that August has lived with for his whole life of ten years.

I first heard about Wonder at the end of last year when a panel of reviewers were discussing Christmas books on a radio program. Kate Colley of Bloomin books said to look out for Wonder in 2012 so I wrote down the name and waited. Now it seems this book is everywhere. It was even reviewed in my local newspaper. So a couple of weeks ago I bought a copy of Wonder and that same day I sat down and read it. I read the whole book in just one sitting. Yes it is that ‘good’. Good is not the right word. This is such an important and moving book. It deals with a difficult subject using humor and just the right amount of emotion. It also a book that uses a story device I really enjoy where each chapter or section tells us about the same events from different viewpoints. Oddly though, it has taken me quite a few weeks to include this book in my blog. I think this might be because I am unsure about the audience. Certainly adults will be moved but I am not entirely sure how upper primary students will react. The cover, it must be said, is eye catching.

August himself does not tell you about his face as he makes the enormous move from homeschooling to Middle School so I am not going to reveal these details nor am I going to try to retell the plot. I can only say if you want to know more you should read this very thoughtful and detailed review which also includes a video of the author reading one chapter. You might also read an interview with the author. One thing that should happen as a result of reading this book is that we all might try to make the world a kinder place.

Mature readers in Upper Primary classes who have enjoyed the books of Andrew Clements or EL Kongisburg (The View from Saturday) should look for Wonder by RJ Palacio. This book also reminded me of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and Sally Marshall is not an alien by Amanda McKay. If you read Wonder and are moved by it then read Secret Friends by Elizabeth Laird but be warned for this one you will need a box of tissues.

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