Palacio, R.J. "Wonder" - 2012
A story about a unique child, a child with a rare genetic disorder that makes him look like a monster to other children. However, we mainly learn to see him as he is on the inside. And that's the beauty of this book, if we didn't know it already, never judge anyone for their looks. Everyone has the same feelings, the same wishes, dreams, desires, problems. Only, if we stop at the outside of a person, we never get to meet the real one.
August is in fifth grade and is going to school for the first time in his life, his mother has been home-schooling him so far. "It’s okay, I know I’m weird-looking, take a look, I don’t bite."
So, this is the reality he has face every day, all the children stare at him, nobody wants to sit near him or even touch him.
He has some great teachers. Mr. Brown, the English teacher, gives them a precept for every month. The first one: "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." The whole story talks about anti-bullying, really. No child should be bullied, especially not if they suffer so much already. And yet, it is usually the helpless ones, those that need our support, that get bullied.
What a really liked about the book, as well, that everyone gets to say something, his sister, his friends, his "enemies". We see August from all sides, we get to know him as well as you can get to know anybody.
This story makes you sad and happy at the same time. Sad to see how much August has to struggle, how his life is so much harder than that of any other fifth grader. For example, he needs hearing aids that can't be fixed like they normally fit them because his ears are very different, they can't hold anything.
And one important lesson to learn, as August's mother puts it: "There are always going to be jerks in the world, Auggie."
I think this is a book every fifth grader should read, learning enough to get them through the important times at school where they will make friends for life and where they set their first important steps into the world.
The author has a website where she explains how she had the idea to write this book. Check it out here.
From the back cover:
"'My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.'"