It’s no Wonder this book is on the big screen

In 2014, I posted about three books that had great messages. One of these books was Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Wonder is about a ten-year-old boy named Auggie Pullman who is about to attend public school for the first time. While this would be challenging for anyone, Auggie has an even more difficult time because he was born with a facial deformity. The book follows Auggie’s side of the story as well as his classmates, his older sister, and other people around him, showing the effects of the strange looks and bullying he encounters. Everyone learns something from Auggie. While the book is written for elementary students (grades 3-6), teens and adults will enjoy it just as much as a younger audience. This winter, the book’s popularity and it’s message to “choose kind” have catapulted Auggie and his story to the big screen.

I’m bringing all this up because I recently came across another great article called “The Power of Wonder.” In the article, Julia Roberts (who plays Auggie’s mom in the film), author R.J. Palacio, and director Stephen Chbosky (who also wrote a little book you might have heard of called The Perks of Being a Wallflower), discuss Wonder, how it impacted their lives, and the messages that stood out to them the most. I enjoyed hearing Julia talk about how she read the book to her three kids – complete with voices – and the awkward situation that lead to R.J. writing the book. If you have read Wonder, I highly recommend this short but sweet article, which can be found in the December issue of Good Housekeeping magazine or online here. If you haven’t read Wonder yet, be sure to pick this one up. I think it will become one of those great classics that we share with our kids like The Giver, Number the Stars, and Matilda.    

Anyone else out there want to share some love for Wonder?


Entry #23 – Book with a Message:


Entry #23 – Book with a message:  Discuss a book that had a meaningful message behind it.

Okay, so I couldn’t pick just one book for this post.  Instead, I went with three: Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Deadline by Chris Crutcher, and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  These books couldn’t be more different from one another, but they all share important life lessons with their readers.

1.  Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a ten-year-old with a facial deformity, who is about to attend public school for the first time.  August experiences bullying—as do a few brave friends who stick by him.  You hear from Auggie’s side of the story, as well as his classmates, his teenage sister, and his sister’s boyfriend.  It’s amazing to see what they all learn from living in Auggie’s world.  You also get some great quotes about kindness thanks to an assignment from one of Auggie’s teachers.  Although Amazon lists the book for grades 3-7, I think older kids and adults will get enjoy it just as much as a younger audience.  With bullying being such a hot topic lately, this book approaches it in a beautifully simple and honest way.  Instead of demanding No Bullying or Stop Bullying, it urges Treat Everyone with Kindness, which is a message I can certainly get behind.


2.  Deadline by Chris Crutcher

Chris Crutcher is well known for his stories Athletic Shorts, Running Loose, and Chinese Handcuffs.  In Deadline, high school senior Ben Wolf finds out that he may not live to the end of his senior year.  He decides to keep his illness and prognoses a secret from everyone, and instead, decides to push himself to try new things.  He musters up the courage to ask out the gorgeous girl, he becomes a star on the football team, and he challenges his teachers.  The message here is to live each day as if it were your last.  It also challenges readers to think for themselves and not judge people by their appearances.  I recently picked up this novel at the Half-Price Bookstore, and I look forward to reading it again.  I think it’d make a great novel to use with high school juniors and seniors who are questioning what to do with their lives.


3.  Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

In this novel, a teenager named Clay Jensen receives a package unlike any other.  The box contains cassette tapes narrated by Hannah, a classmate who recently committed suicide.  As Clay listens to the tapes, he comes to understand that Hannah is explaining the thirteen reasons why she was motivated to take her own life—and that only people who were part of the reason are receiving the tapes.  Clay listens to the tapes to find out why he is partially to blame.  Through rumors, ruined reputations, and teenage egocentrism, you’ll uncover what life was like for Hannah.  Readers will realize that even if they are not participating in the rumors and bullying directly, sitting on the sidelines can be just as hurtful.  The message of this novel seems to be treating others with kindness as well.  It also promotes paying attention to people around you and stepping in when necessary.  I listened to this book on audio CD before reading the book version.  I preferred the audiobook because there were different voices for the main characters, and it was almost like listening to Hannah’s voice on cassette tape.  Asher’s story is dark and troubling.  He’s going to be an author to watch.  He has also co-authored the slightly lighter story The Future of Us, which I’d also recommend reading.


What books have important messages for you?  

Entry #13 – Quote from a book


Entry #13 – Quote from a book:  Pick a great quote from any book.

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet since the quote speaks for itself.  The quote is originally from J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, but it feels right at home in R.J. Palacio’s novel Wonder.  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all chose to be a little kinder?

Please post any favorite book quotes of your own below.