Youth Book Review: What a Wonder!

Today’s Favorite Friday post is a Youth Book Review written by Abby, who is a 6th grader from our Gracepoint Minneapolis church. She writes newspaper articles under the pen name Mr. Sketch (you’ll have to ask her why).

wonder book coverWonder, by R.J Palacio. This book truly lives up to its name. Wonder is a book that you can never put down. I recently just read it again and it reminded me how well it was written and how it’s so true to real life.

The book is unique in the way that it switches from different people’s points of view. In this book a boy named August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity (known as Treacher Collins Syndrome). Auggie’s condition is like a 1 in 50,000 chance of being born with it. When he finally goes to school with other kids for 5th grade, he faces big problems. Bullies are a HUGE one. Yet, he’s kind to everyone (even bullies who threaten to hurt him) and really tries to shrug off the taunts and teases. He goes through so much and he reminds us to persevere and never give up.

There are many supporting characters in the book. Jack Will is Auggie’s new best friend. He is challenged by going from being in the popular and “cool crowd” to hanging out with Auggie, which is lower than uncool. He’s brave and I admire that about him. He chooses to be with Auggie and even punches a bully because he was teasing Auggie. Summer Dawson is a girl who sat at a table with Auggie on the first day of school and has been every day since. She would fit perfectly into the” cool crowd” and they even ask her to join them. She says no because Auggie needs a friend. She takes a stand for what’s right. Julian Albans, popular kid, in the “cool crowd” bullies August Pullman. Julian is Auggie’s biggest bully. He calls him names and make the whole grade turn against Auggie. But when it starts to get old and nobody likes him anymore, things change.

Auggie’s English teacher, Mr. Browne, has a precept for his class every month. A precept is like a motto. One of his precepts that constantly appear in the book is: “When you have the choice to be right or kind, choose kind.” And to all those kids and people who were kind to Auggie, they truly took that precept seriously.

Wonder is an awesome book. It is currently my favorite book. After reading it the first time, I started writing out the book by hand. I loved it that much! I recommend Wonder to ages 10 and up, so like 5th grade and up.  5th grade is a really good time to read it because you can kind of relate to the characters in the book! I think the lesson I learned was that a person’s face does not mean that they’re different from everybody else inwardly. You will never look at a person with disabilities the same way again. I encourage everyone to read the book.

choose kindEmily here: As a teacher, I can echo Abby Mr. Sketch’s sentiments and attest to the power of Wonder. I loved it personally, but this is exactly the kind of book I’d love. But in the last few years, I have seen every kind of kid and adult, even the “I hate reading” kind, love this book. It’s been a “gateway book” for many. I agree that it is right for about 5th grade and up. And by “up” I do mean all the way up! It is definitely a book for young and old alike. This book speaks to the power of a human story. Kids are drawn to this story without knowing what empathy means, but so many take the “Choose Kind” pledge that has swept across schools and libraries. And it has opened up discussions in classrooms about kindness, and even impacted the way kids treat one another. If you have a 5th or 6th grader, it’s likely your child’s language arts teacher will do a unit based on the book. This is a wonderful novel for conversations about what it means to be a friend, what courage is, what it means to “be yourself,” what taking a stand is, and there are so many precepts sprinkled throughout the book that you can write about or discuss.

This book has become a “franchise” of sorts, with 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts; the Wonder Journal, filled with inspiring quotes to think about and respond to; and Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories, a combined book of 3 shorter stories previously only available in e-book format. They tell stories from the perspectives of Julian (the bully), Christopher (Auggie’s oldest friend), and Charlotte (a new friend from school).

Have you read Wonder? If so, what are your thoughts? Do you agree that it is as wonderful as Abby and I think? If not, has this review prompted you to give the book a try? 🙂 

17 thoughts on “Youth Book Review: What a Wonder!

  1. I never read the book but it sure sounds like an interesting book, after reading Mr.Sketch’s review. I’m glad to hear that this book is so widely read, and teaching kids the value of kindness and standing up for what is right.

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  2. I recently purchased this book and cannot wait to read it! As a 5th grader I really disliked reading I’m sad to say. Even though 5th grade was oh about 10 years ago (maybe plus another decade…) this review really makes me excited to read this book! Do I feel an all-nighter coming up…?

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  3. Mr. Sketch – I almost feel like I read the book b/c of the way you’ve told me the stories in the book with so much excitement and like many other books you share about, I really want to read this one too! I’m thankful for the important lesson we can learn on kindness and doing the right thing no matter what anyone else is doing! Read on!

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  4. Wow…now I really want to read it. Thanks for the review Mr. Sketch! Thanks for taking the time out to recommend it to us and explain why it’s such a good book.

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  5. I love this book! Like Abby I couldn’t put it down and I have to agree with her that it is true to real life.
    Again, like Abby said the story is told through the perspective of different characters and that is something I really appreciated as it brings a lot of dimension and depth to the book.
    I think the greatest thing about this book is that it really shows you the importance of compassion and kindness.

    I love it and I recommend it for anyone!

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  6. Loved your post Mr. Sketch! I am in the middle of reading this book to my 4th grade class, and although it’s my 3rd (or 4th or 5th) time reading the book, I always find myself responding to different parts in new and sometimes unexpected ways. One of the great things about this book is that no matter how old you are, you can find yourself in one (or more) of the characters. Here’s a secret: I actually cried in front of all of my students last year reading one of the Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories to my class! And there are plenty of parts in Wonder where I have to pause, if you know what I mean. Don’t you love books that can tug at your emotions? Keep calm and read on, Mr. Sketch!

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  7. Hi Mr. Sketch, thank you for encouraging me to read this book and letting me borrow it out of your personal library! I read it in one day and then went and bought it myself. I think Mr. Sketch was spot on in describing how the book helps you learn about empathy by putting you in the shoes of different people. It definitely made me cry (although I guess I cry in a lot of books) and brought me back to my own kind of painful middle school days. So glad that this is a popular book and I echo Mr. Sketch in saying that everyone should read it. Like, everyone. 🙂

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  8. Thanks for your book review! I couldn’t agree with you more…Wonder is quite a unique and awesome book. I received it as a birthday present from another Ms. Kim several years ago and have been reading it every year as the first class read aloud ever since. I’ve seen the stories of Auggie, Jack Will, Via, Julian, and many other characters in the book really change many perspectives, attitudes, and behavior of students I teach. A really good book has the power to do that! This summer, I finally finished reading Auggie & Me and that was reallllllly good too. Would love to hear your thoughts on it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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