Wonder is a children's novel by Raquel Jaramillo, under the pen name of R. J. Palacio,[3] published on February 14, 2012.

Palacio wrote Wonder after an incident where she and her three-year-old son were waiting in line to buy ice cream. Her son noticed a girl with a severe facial deformity and started to cry. Fearing he would react badly, Palacio attempted to remove her son from the situation so as not to upset the girl or her family but ended up worsening the situation. Natalie Merchant's song "Wonder" made her realize that the incident could teach her son a valuable lesson. Palacio was inspired by Merchant's lyrics and she began writing. She named the book directly after the song, and used the song's chorus as the prologue of the first chapter.[4] The book has a released spin-off, 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts.[5] In August 2015, the book Auggie and Me was published.[6] A film adaptation was released in 2017.


August Pullman is a homeschooled fifth-grader living in North River Heights in Upper Manhattan with his parents. He has a medical condition, often equated with Treacher Collins syndrome, that has caused him to have many surgeries. Due to this, August has been homeschooled by his mother; however, wanting him to experience a larger world, his parents enroll him into Beecher Middle School for the start of fifth grade. August has a sister, Via, who is older than him and cares for him, even though she believes that he is in control of her life.

On his first day of school, August tries not to raise awareness of himself. Despite his efforts, the other kids still look at him, and a student, whom Mr. Tushman selected to be friends with August, named Julian immediately antagonizes him for his appearance, comparing him to Darth Sidious and asking him whether he was in a fire. However, August's hopes for the school year are raised slightly when he kindles a friendship with classmates Jack and Summer, both of whom defend him from Julian's taunts.

The situation comes to a head on Halloween when August, disguised in a costume, overhears Jack joining in with the bullying. August feels betrayed and fakes illness in order to return home. As August isolates himself from his classmates and parents, Via's frustration grows, added on by years of feeling ignored by her family.

Returning to school, August tries to ignore Jack and talks about the incident with Summer. She gives Jack a clue and he realizes that August overheard his comments. He punches Julian in the face for calling August a 'freak' and is quickly suspended from school for a short while. Over the Christmas break, Jack attempts to make it up to August.

As the school year progresses, the bullying August faces become more serious. Julian manipulates his friends into turning against August and Jack and begins leaving mean notes in their lockers. In addition, Julian's mother voices her concerns over August's attendance at the school, commenting that his appearance may be too much of a burden for the students to handle.

Via confides in her mother that she doesn't want August to attend her school play, as she was finding comfort in nobody at her new school knowing about him. August overhears Via discussing this with their mother, and he storms out of the room. When Via eventually comes to find him, it is the sad news that their elderly dog, Daisy, has passed away. August, overcome with emotion, grieves.

When the main actress in Via's school play pretends to be sick, Via takes on the role of the female lead. Her family celebrates by taking her out for dinner.

At the end of the school year, the students are invited on a three-day school trip to a nature reserve. August is initially concerned about going. However upon hearing that Julian will not be attending, August decides to join his friends on the trip. August has fun until the last night, when he and Jack go to the woods and are attacked by seventh graders who start to beat them, only to be saved by Julian's friends.

With the summer vacation fast approaching, August is informed that Julian will not be returning to Beecher Prep for the next grade. The Pullman family get a new puppy, whom they call 'Bear'. At the graduation ceremony, August is awarded the 'Henry Ward Beecher Medal' for being 'notable or exemplary in certain areas throughout the school year'. Incredibly proud of her son, August's mother comments that he is a 'wonder'.

Main characters
  • August "Auggie" Pullman: The main character. His face is deformed due to a type of "bulofacial dysotosis",[7]:104 along with other facial malformations. He faces many difficulties when he goes into his first year of middle school after being schooled by his parents for many years. In the end, he is able to make new friends and accept himself for who he is.
  • Olivia "Via" Pullman: August's older sister. She talks about Auggie and the hardships of being a sister of someone who is deformed in Part 2. She truly cares for Auggie and will always defend him. Often, Via feels jealous of the attention Auggie receives because of his deformity. She often scolds herself and feels guilty for feeling this way.
  • Summer Dawson: One of Auggie's first and best friends. She sits next to him at lunch on the first day of school when no one else would. She doesn't care what the other students think of Auggie and is always very kind to him.
  • Isabel and Nate Pullman: Auggie and Via's parents. They care deeply about Auggie and Via, but due to Auggie's problems, Via is often unintentionally left out. Isabel and Nate work with Auggie to make sure going to private school instead of being homeschooled is ultimately his decision.
  • Jack Will: A tough city boy and August's best friend. Mr. Tushman asked Jack, Charlotte, and Julian to give August a tour of Beecher Prep. At first, Jack did not want to be friends with Auggie because of his facial deformity. He thought it would prevent him from being friends with the "popular kids." He first pretended to be friends with Auggie and was devastated when August found out, but they become friends again. Later, he comes to genuinely appreciate August for who he is.
  • Julian Albans: He dislikes Auggie and convinces the other students that if they touch him, they will develop "The Plague." He bullied Auggie and told most of the grade to isolate him, and Jack Will for becoming friends with Auggie. At the end of the story, Julian's parents take him out of Beecher, as they say, they don't feel Beecher Prep is an "inclusion school" and they think Auggie shouldn't have been admitted.[7]:162
  • Justin: Via's boyfriend. He is somewhat shocked by Auggie's appearance but is very kind to him. He has a main part in "Our Town" with Via at their high school. In his part in the book, he doesn't use proper punctuation because he thinks it takes too long to write. He also mentions that he has "tics," especially when he is nervous and describes them as "hard blinks" and "the occasional head pull."[7]:190 This leads the reader to believe that he has a form of Tourette's syndrome. Justin also gets to meet Via's parents.
  • Charlotte Cody: She is a smart 5th grader and one of August's friends. Despite being nice by waving to Auggie and telling Jack about the "boy war" she never truly is friends with August as she never sits with Auggie or truly sides with Jack.
  • Edward "Eddie" Johnson: He is a 7th grader who bullies August when he goes to a sleepaway camp.
  • Mr. Tom Browne: Auggie's first teacher in 5th grade at Beecher Prep school. As he makes precepts for the class to ponder, Auggie is marvelled at these precepts. Mr. Browne wants to give Auggie a good year at Beecher.
  • Bear: August and Via's second dog that they got after the camping trip that Auggie went on, as a replacement for Daisy.
  • Darth Daisy "Daisy": Via and August's first dog, who goes by "Daisy." She was an old dog, and at the end of the book dies. August's family then decides to get a new dog named Bear.
  • Miranda Navas: Via's friend. Via, Miranda, and Ella were friends. Miranda had recently cut her hair into a bob and dyed it pink, and dressed in a manner that she would have never dressed before. Via is shocked by Miranda's new look, and the two former friends slowly drift apart. Miranda took care of August and thought of him as her own "little brother;" when she went to summer camp immediately previous to the events in the book, Miranda lied and told everyone August was her brother. She was the one who gave him his astronaut helmet he would wear to conceal his face, and they would also sing "Space Oddity" by David Bowie together, and she would call him "Major Tom" after the astronaut in the song.
  • Mr. Lawrence Tushman: The director of Beecher Prep. He is extremely welcoming and positive towards Auggie throughout the course of the school year. He tries his hardest to make him feel welcome at school. He delivers an important speech at graduation where he says "if every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world would be a better place."[7]:301

Critical reception

The book received positive reviews from critics.[8][9]

The parent resource Common Sense Media gave Wonder four out of five stars, calling it a "Moving, uplifting tale about a disfigured boy with inner beauty".[10]

Entertainment Weekly said: “In a wonder of a debut, Palacio has written a crackling page-turner filled with characters you can’t help but root for." New York Times called it, “Rich and memorable…It’s Auggie and the rest of the children who are the real heart of ‘Wonder,’ and Palacio captures the voices of girls and boys, fifth graders, and teenagers, with equal skill.”.


"Wonder" was on The New York Times Best Seller list[11] and was also on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list.[12] The book was the winner of the 2014 Maine Student Book Award, Vermont's Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award, the 2015 Mark Twain Award,[13] Hawaii's 2015 Nene Award,[14] and the Junior Young Reader's Choice Award for 2015.[15] In Illinois, it won both the Bluestem and Caudill Awards in 2014.[16]

Film adaptation

A film adaptation directed by Stephen Chbosky and written by Steve Conrad starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as Isabel and Nate Pullman respectively, and Jacob Tremblay as August Pullman was released on November 17, 2017 by Lionsgate.

Related books

Auggie and Me

Auggie and Me is not a sequel but a companion book to Wonder (although "The Julian Chapter" serves as one). It contains three stories, each telling the events of Wonder from different perspectives. The first story, called "The Julian Chapter", is from the point of view of school bully Julian where he explains why he mistreats Auggie and if he will change. The second—called Pluto—focuses on August Pullman's life before Beecher Prep and is set in the point of view of Christopher, Auggie's oldest friend. The third is called Shingaling and is from the point of view of Auggie's classmate, Charlotte who in Wonder is nice but not kind enough to Auggie and focuses on things that were going on between some of the girls in Auggie's year like Ximena Chin, Summer Dawson, and Maya Markowitz.

365 Days of Wonder

In Wonder, Mr. Browne made a precept for every month. 365 Days of Wonder states 365 different precepts collected by Mr. Browne. It also has thoughts and opinions by Mr. Browne after every 'month' in the book.

  1. ^ Palacio, Raquel J. "Formats and Editions of Wonder". Worldcat.org. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  2. ^ "Wonder (Book, 2012)". WorldCat.org. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  3. ^ "'Wonder' What It's Like To Have Kids Stare At You?". New York Times. March 22, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2016. 
  4. ^ "A 'Wonder'-filled day: Best-selling author surprises Ann Arbor elementary student". MLive.com. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  5. ^ Alter, Alexandra (Feb 13, 2014). "R.J. Palacio's 'Wonder' Spins Off Two Follow-Up Books". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 8, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Auggie & Me". 
  7. ^ a b c d Palacio, R.J. (2012). Wonder (1st ed.). [s.l.]: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0375869026. 
  8. ^ The Dormouse (February 2, 2014). "Wonder by R. J. Palacio - review". The Guardian
  9. ^ Chilton, Martin (February 24, 2012). "Wonder by R.J Palacio: review". The Telegraph
  10. ^ Barbara Schultz. "Wonder Book Review". "Common Sense Media". 
  11. ^ Taylor, Ihsan. "Best Sellers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  12. ^ "Texas Bluebonnet Award Annotated 2013-2014 Master List" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Children's Book Award Winners Announced at Maine Reading Conference". Maine.gov. 2014-04-10. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  14. ^ "'Wonder' Selected as 2015 Nene Award Winner". Mauinow.com. 2015-04-10. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  15. ^ "YRCA 2015". Pnla.org. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  16. ^ "Champagne Library Illinois Award Winners". 
External links
  • RJ Palacio's website
  • Review in The Guardian
Preceded by The Unwanteds Mark Twain Award 2015 Succeeded by Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Preceded by Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever Junior Young Reader's Choice Award 2015 Succeeded by N/a

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