Book Review: Wonder by R J Palacio

‘You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.’ So reads the strap-line on the cover of R J Palacio’s first children’s novel, Wonder. That strap-line is as true of the book as it is the central character. ‘Wonder’ was born to stand out, as is reflected by the plaudits and prizes it has gleaned since its publication in 2012, the most recent being Waterstones 8-12 category last week. head case designs iphone 8   wond                 Cover design and illustrations by Tad Carpenter   Why is this title getting so much attention? Because Wonder is a brave book and all the best books are brave. Palacio has given her hero, ten-year old August Pullman, an enormous burden to deal with. Not poverty or abusive parents or dark secrets but facial disfigurement, the principal one being Treacher Collins Syndrome. Children with this syndrome look similar to the image below:   wonder                   A child with Treacher Collins Syndrome, although his condition isn’t as extreme as August’s (image from web). August’s sister, Olivia (Via) describes her brother’s appearance: ‘ His eyes are about an inch below where they should be on his face, almost to halfway down his cheeks. iphone 6 case mandala iphone 6s case mandala They slant downwards at an extreme angle, almost like diagonal slits that someone has cut into his face and the left one is noticeable lower than his right one…’ She continues at length, listing a whole catalogue of features enough to make any parent anxious if their child had even one of the conditions, never mind all of them: no ears, cheekbones, eyebrows or eyelashes. Waxy skin that appears burned. A pinched head, ‘like someone used giant pliers and crushed the middle part of his face.’ Despite dozens of operations, August’s features will never be ‘normal’. As you can imagine in our society where ‘good’ looks are lauded, August’s life is never going to be easy. His caring (almost saintly at times, I felt) parents have tried to protect him from the stares and comments but now that he’s reached fifth grade, they feel it’s time he gave school a shot. He can, they assure him, pull out any time. Wonder is about August’s first year, from the awkward initial meeting with the principal and the three classmates; Jack, Charlotte and Julian, specially selected to be his ‘buddies’ – to the end of year ‘graduation.’ So much happens to August in that year – some of it funny, some sad, some of it so insensitive you feel your blood boil ( like the boy’s mum who had August airbrushed out of the class photo because he ‘spoiled’ it) but ultimately the story is uplifting. grid iphone 7 case If ever there was a class reader for Y5 – Y8 to get kids reading about and discussing body image, this one is it. It’s also an ideal one to follow on from the London 2012 Paralympics, which did so much to change people’s attitudes towards disability. Best of all, it’s a good story – it’s fast-paced, has an interesting mix of characters and keeps you absorbed until the last page. Everyone is rooting for August to succeed and take his rightful place within society, not hidden from it. apple case iphone 6 pink Highly recommended.

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