Friday, January 18, 2013

ReadItDaddy 'Daddy' Review - Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Corgi Children's Books)



Now and again I sneak off and read books that are most definitely 'Daddy' books and not 'Charlotte' books - though as soon as she can read I'll be letting her take a look at "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio. 

It's the story of a young boy, August Pullman, who just wants to blend in though he was born to stand out. You see, August has a Craniofacial Deformity. As he says himself...

"My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse."

For a child starting school for the first time, it's scary enough. When you look like August does, it's a terrifying prospect and though he shows a great deal of maturity and begins to make friends at Beechdale, things aren't always as they seem. 

"Wonder" is beautifully written, tackling the story from several character's perspectives (for instance, showing his sister's view of how August's deformity affects the family's life, and how his real friends see him and are affected by him too). 

I love the great 'geeky' references in this as we find that August is pretty amazing and just like other boys he's obsessed with Star Wars, difficult with girls, smart and funny with a great deal of intelligence and maturity. 

"Wonder" reminded me of the dark side of school, when bullies attempt to win popularity by running down the underdogs or picking on kids who can't get authority to understand what's going on and can't get help. August overcomes each obstacle (with a little help from some brilliant friends along the way) and his story bears a message that all of us can learn - don't take anyone at face value, unless you get to know them you truly cannot 'know' them. 

It's a rollercoaster ride at times, but "Wonder" is a fine example of how writers can tweak our emotions and empathy as we get to know their characters and situations and almost feel part of August's extended family as we see his life from top to bottom. 

A thoroughly good read and heartily recommended. As I said at the top of the review, this is something I'd love to let Charlotte read when she's old enough and I seriously hope that schools recommend this book to children, we can all learn something from it. 

Daddy's favourite bit: The 'Lobot' ears (August's hearing aids) and the fantastic end-quotes from the school yearbook. 

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