Thursday, July 5, 2012
Wonder by R.J. Palacio is that kind of book. Meet Auggie short for August - a sheltered boy who has been homeschooled by his mother because of the many medical procedures he has had to have due to a rare genetic condition that caused Auggie to be born with a severely misshapened face. Even after all these surgeries to help Auggie lead a a normal life; his mouth doesn't completely close when he eats causing food to fall out, his eyes droop down upon his cheeks as if he has been in a fire, and his ears are fused down close to his head so that he has difficulty hearing. Auggie's parents make the tough decision to have him start fifth grade at a small prepatory school. Auggie is filled with anxiety and dreads the reactions he will get from the other students. When his mother has the Principal arrange a tour of the school led by other students who will be Auggie's classmates, he actually starts looking forward to the experience. When school starts, Auggie goes through what many children who look different from others go through - the blatant stares, the teasing and taunting, and the isolation. He must find the strength to be better than the friends who let him down and learn to lean on the ones who know how to make things right. The story is told from different points of view which I absolutely loved. The author stated the following in an interview with Random House's Random Acts of Reading Blog: "I hope that readers will come away with the idea that they are noticed: their actions are noted. Maybe not immediately or directly or even in a way that seems obvious, but if they’re mean, someone suffers. If they’re kind, someone benefits. And the choice is theirs: whether to be noticed for being kind or for being mean. They get to choose who they want to be in this world. And it’s not their friends and not their parents who make those choices: it’s them." This is a must read for every educator - the author's webpage has discussion questions as well as ideas for precepts which are presented by Auggie's English teacher as a way for the students to reflect on life and their own contributions.