Monday, March 12, 2012

I'm back for a new Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! WONDER by R. J. Palacio

Yes, I'm back from Revision Beach!  I really missed reading all your blogs and participating in the MG love.  Revisions are going well, but not as well as I'd hoped (so I may take some more time off soon).  I've just about finished Draft 3 of my own MG novel.  After another six or ten revisions, I may even be ready to start querying! :)  I started a query letter, so that's progress.  And I'm working my way through the agent interviews over at Literary Rambles.

But enough about me.  Let's talk about a Middle Grade novel I'm swooning over.

"When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind."  Dr. Wayne Dyer

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio  (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780375869020, February 14, 2012, for ages 8 to 12)

Source:  advanced reading copy from my amazing sales rep, Nicole Dufort

Synopsis (from Indiebound):  I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

Why I liked it:  Astonishingly realistic characters populate an inspiring story with short chapters. That format and the clear, straightforward writing help to make a difficult subject easy to handle.  Auggie doesn't really have special needs.  He's just "different."  You never know that much about his face, other than that his eyes are too far down and he doesn't exactly have ears.  People are shocked when they first see him.  The mean kids compare him to Gollum or ET or an orc.  But Auggie's used to it. 

Be prepared to feel emotionally invested in this story of a boy coping with an unusual challenge. The first part is narrated by Auggie, but then the middle of the book is narrated by others, including his older sister, his best friend, and others involved in his life. I love how all these different voices combine to tell Auggie's story from different viewpoints.  It really helps you get to know him better and understand what it must have been like for him to have this face.  Long before I reached the end, I felt Auggie had become a real person.

This book is going to win multiple awards.  And they'll be well deserved.  I'll go on record right now as predicting this will definitely win the Schneider Family Award.  But I hope it also garners at least a Newbery honor next January.

Read a marvelous interview with the author from The Observer that explains the origin of the book.

And visit the author at her website.

What books about kids who are "different" have you read and loved?

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. Other regulars include (but are not limited to):

Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Myrna Foster at The Night Writer
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles
Brooke Favero at Somewhere in the Middle
Deb Marshall at Just Deb
Barbara Watson at her blog
Anita Laydon Miller at her middle grade blog
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin at Middle Grade Mafioso
Pam Torres at So I'm Fifty
Ms. Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads
Danika Dinsmore at The Accidental Novelist
Jennifer Rumberger at her blog
Akossiwa at Nye Louwon--My Spirit
Gabrielle Prendergast at angelhorn
Sheri Larsen at her blog
Gina Carey at her blog

(Edited to include the blogroll! Because I've been away so long I forgot, heh heh.)


  1. This sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing about it.

    And you'll get through the revisions. Sounds like you are making progress and moving closer to querying.


    As you can see. I've missed you. But I hope revision Beach had lots of cabanas and/or beach umbrellas, and beach boys to bring you cold drinks. Good luck as it continues.

    I've heard tons of good things about WONDER! Thanks for featuring it.

  3. Thanks, Natalie! I know I'll get there. It's just taking me forever.

    Wow, thanks, Michael! Revision Beach was great. Yeah, beach umbrellas and cold drinks. Don't know about the beach boys. Hubby might have been jealous! But maybe if I'd put myself in a virtual cave instead, I'd have finished by now!

    WONDER is, well, wonderful!

  4. I have t his one on my Kindle and I really need to read it. This is the best review I've seen, Joanne. Thank you. :-)

  5. i have this on my tbr list, too! it sounds so wonderful, and beautiful.

    favorite stories with kids who are different? "the fault in our stars" just came to mind - the main character has cancer, and her struggles and experiences gave me a whole new perspective... i definitely recommend.

    1. Thanks, Gina!

      I have read The Fault in Our Stars, and loved it! I featured it a month ago on one of my infrequent YA posts.

  6. I've heard fabulous things about his one and can't wait to read it!

    Glad you're back, Joanne, I've missed you. :-)

  7. Wow, this sounds so good. I can't wait to read it. What an interesting story of how it came about too.

    1. Hi Gabrielle! Glad you clicked through to the interview. It's a fascinating story (makes me wonder how MY kids would have reacted) and it found its way into the novel in a small but powerful scene.

  8. Wonder was everything I expected and so. much. more. So glad you loved it, too!

    1. C.S., welcome to my blog! Yes, I found this book incredibly moving. I'm not surprised we both chose it this week.

  9. This sounds like an amazing story! I can't wait to read it!

    1. Hope you can find the time, Andrea. It's definitely worth reading.

  10. Yay! Happy to see you back. I hope the writing went well.
    This book, just by the description and your review, sounds so powerful. It's one of those books I know I would love to read but I'm afraid of how much I would be emotionally affected.
    Either way I think I should read it. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Thanks, Akoss!

      Don't be afraid. Just read it. And keep the tissues handy.

  11. So glad you're back!

    This sounds like an amazing book! I hadn't heard of it, so thanks for sharing. I'll add it to my list.

    1. Hi Jennifer! Thanks. Nice of you to stop by while you're on your own blogging break. I'm honored.

  12. Welcome back Ms. Fritz! I am glad your are back! :) I have heard good things about this book. It sounds like one I should read!Thanks :)

    1. Thanks, Erik! It's nice to be back. You should add this book to your TBR list. It's great.


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