After a twenty year career in graphic design and art direction, Racquel Jarmillo Palacio (R.J. Palacio) decided to write a children’s book. Since its publication in 2012, Palacio’s book has inspired its 16 million+ readers to #ChooseKind and has created a mammoth movement of empathy among young people.
What is this three hundred and ten paged bildungsroman that’s shaped a generation?
Wonder is a middle grade novel that centers on a boy starting fifth grade at a brand new school—a terrifying feat for anyone. However, Auggie Pullman is further challenged by his facial differences, which make him stand out from other kids at an age where ever wants to fit in.
As Auggie navigates year one of middle school with courage and sensitivity, we grow to love him. We feel his embarrassment each time others stare and ask crude questions and we experience his parents’ relief each time he’s included and accepted.
R.J. Palacio uses the power of narrative to give us perspective into the mind and world of a wonderfully brave child. The narration is raw, and reading Auggie’s thoughts teaches us how our actions, words, and even quick glances can deeply affect others.
But the author doesn’t stop with the main character. Palacio rotates through narrators, telling a single story through multiple perspectives. We learn why one child chose to turn his back on Auggie while another invited him to sit beside her at lunch—and we have understanding and empathy for both.
Palacio’s approach to kindness and understanding is holistic: We come to know the victim, bully and bystander, and we feel for all three. Wonder challenges readers of all ages to grow in grace and kindness.
Auggie is a fictional character, but his syndrome, Treacher Collins, is real. RJ Palacio was inspired to write a story about a child with this genetic disorder after one specific encounter:
Palacio may have missed her ‘teaching moment’ at the ice cream store, but she’s since made up for it! Wonder’s powerful message has challenged millions of middle schoolers to go beyond being friendly, and step up to actually be a friend.
This New York Times Bestseller now required reading at thousands of schools across the nation and has been translated into over 40 languages. Palacio inspires us at AngeLink, because she turned a missed opportunity into a chance to reach an entire generation!