Children’s books constitute a unique type of literature that promotes the best human qualities and empathizes concepts, which not only children but even grown-ups should regularly be reminded of. Palacio’s Wonder is a vivid example. It is a touching, life-affirmative, and upbeat story about kindness and humanity that thrills readers, makes them participate and empathize, and then changes their personalities.
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Wonder is the children’s novel written by Raquel J. Palacio that was originally published in 2012. A year later, the book turned out to be one of the best sellers in its genre, according to The New York Times (“The New York Times Best Sellers List” par. 1).
The novel tells the story of Auggie (August Pullman), who is a ten-year-old boy with a severe facial deformity. The deformity is not identified in the book, but it goes without saying that it affects Auggie’s life significantly. At first, the boy has been home-schooled because of countless surgeries, but his parents finally decide to enroll August to a school in order to provide him with proper education and a chance to communicate with other children. There, Auggie tries to make friends and strives to be accepted like any other child.
The author of Wonder explained that she was inspired to write this book in a real-life situation. In one of her interviews, Raquel J. Palacio told how she once went to an ice cream store with her kids, and they saw a girl with facial deformity there (“How One Unkind Moment Gave Way To ‘Wonder’” par. 2). Her son began to cry in fear when he noticed the girl, which is why Palacio took her kids and went out of the store. Later, she regretted her actions and decided to turn this situation into a good lesson. That is how Wonder appeared.
I find this book very educational and think that every child should read it. It teaches us that the appearance is secondary, and the most important thing is “who we are” (Palacio 47). It shows that facial deformity (or any otherness) does not make a person less normal or ordinary inside. Auggie states, “I do ordinary things. … I feel ordinary. Inside. … The only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way” (Palacio 3). Indeed, when children get to know August better, they do not notice his abnormality anymore – they begin to see how smart, funny, and kind he is.
From my point of view, things Palacio talks about are very important to understand in school years. Firstly, the child’s world outlook begins to form at this age, so a lot of beliefs and values acquired in school years become stronger in the future and stay for life. Secondly, children are very vulnerable in schools; that is the time when everyone desperately wants to fit in and be accepted. That is why Palacio’s book can make a difference in the school environment. Since the story is written in simple words, it is easy to comprehend even for young readers, and due to its sincerity and penetration, it touches the very core.
The idea to accept those who are different from others and treat them normally is very common in children’s literature. In Charlotte’s Web by Elwyn Brooks White, when Fern’s father realizes that one of the newborn pigs is a runt, he decides to kill it. However, the little girl defends the pig and states that it is unfair to kill it “just because it’s smaller than the others” (White 4). Later, the girl and the pig become friends, which proves that the appearance does not change what is inside. Admittedly, in Charlotte’s Web, realism is intertwined with fantasy, while Wonder is all about the real world, but the idea of the acceptance of otherness is common.
The story of August Pullman is not easy to read. Sometimes it becomes extremely sad and makes you desperately want to change something as if you have the power to do that. Then it makes you wonder what you would do in a particular setting: Would you be scared of Auggie when you see him for the first time? Would you sit near him in the class or at lunchtime? Would you defend the boy if someone offends him? The book keeps readers involved; you start to evaluate and reevaluate your own self. In the end, you are a different person. The most important is that the book is optimistic and positive in the main; its sentences are full of heart and humor. Wonder proves that even the most challenging situations always bring us something good.
Another thing that should be noticed about Wonder is its language and the way it is built. Firstly, the reader gets to know the story from Auggie’s point of view. However, when the second part of the novel begins, the narrator changes to Via, Auggie’s sister. While August mainly describes his own feelings and thoughts in his narrative, Via’s section contains more reflections, and it is very insightful. It also includes fewer dialogues than August’s part. The third section of the novel is narrated by Summer, one of Auggie’s best friends, who seated near him at lunchtime while no one else wanted to do this. Like Via’s section, it also contains more reflections. Besides, it is laconic and specific. Jack’s part stands out, just like his character does.
He describes the story from the viewpoint of a person who sees different sides of the situation. Then, Justin’s part follows. His point of view is really interesting since Justin is not an ordinary boy himself. He mentions that he has tics, which resemble Tourette’s syndrome (Palacio 191).
His language also differs: for example, he does not use capital letters. Apart from the fact that every narrator has his or her own point of view on the same situation and expresses thoughts in different ways and with different words, all of them describe different parts of the story. For example, Via’s section is mainly about home life while Jack and Summer talk about school. Miranda, the last narrator, who should be mentioned, gives an insight into the past because she has known August since his childhood.
Like any other children’s book, Wonder is written with simple and comprehensible language and relatively short sentences. It also contains a lot of direct speech. That is what makes the novel easier to read. Nevertheless, even though the words the author uses are simple, thoughts, and feelings that the book brings are adult. It teaches us how essential it is for human beings to be kind, tolerant, empathic, and understanding. “When given a choice between being right or being kind, choose the kind,” the author states. (Palacio, 311). Doesn’t only this one sentence make the book worthy of reading?
How One Unkind Moment Gave Way To ‘Wonder’ 2013. Web.
Palacio, Raquel J. Wonder, New York, New York: Random House, 2012. Print.
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The New York Times Best Sellers List: Children’s Middle Grade. 2013. Web.
White, Elwyn B. Charlotte’s Web, London, England: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2015. Print.