Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kid Konnection: Wonder & Giveaway

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to feature one of my favorite books of 2012!

Summary: I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a
New York Times bestseller, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. -- Knopf

I should probably begin this review by telling you that there is absolutely no way that I can do justice to the middle-grade novel WONDER by R.J. Palacio. I had heard some wonderful things about this book from some fellow bloggers (namely Kathy and Sandy) and my go-to-source for books Entertainment Weekly even selected it for their Must-List, so I kind of figured that I would enjoy it. What I wasn't expecting was just how much I loved this book.. and how much it moved me. WONDER is, without a doubt, one of the best books I've read this year. And it just might go down as one of my favorite middle grade reads ever!

WONDER tells the story of Auggie, a 10 year old boy who is making the transition from being home-schooled to attending a middle school. Beginning a new school can be difficult enough, but when you add that Auggie has a severe facial deformity, his experiences are even more difficult. Auggie is convinced that he's just like everyone else, but as we all know, middle school kids can be cruel... sometimes very cruel. In this heartwarming story, Auggie learns the true meaning of friendship as well as his own inner strength.

WONDER is mainly Auggie's story and the book begins and ends with sections in his voice, but the reader also gets to hear other characters' stories. In addition to Auggie's chapters, there were also sections narrated by Auggie's sister Via, a few of his friends, and even Via's boyfriend. Of course, I adored Auggie and loved learning his perspective on himself and the events in his life; however, I also really appreciated seeing how the other characters were affected by their relationship with Auggie. These sections gave the book an added depth and provided me with some wonderful insight into the true meaning of friendship.

WONDER absolutely blew me away and it is exactly the type of middle grade book that I love. It has great characters (especially Auggie), but it is also an entertaining story and there is definitely some humor. All of these things make it a book that will appeal to kids; however, as a mom, I loved that WONDER is chock-full of valuable life lessons. I believe that while most kids aren't dealing with the severity of Auggie's issues, they will still be able to relate to many of the events that take place in the story. Auggie isn't always treated very well by his classmates (that's kind of an understatement), and I think most kids will relate (either directly or indirectly) to the bullying that occurs in this story. Furthermore, I'm betting that children will also be able to relate to many of the peer pressure issues that Auggie's friends faced.

Needless to say, WONDER would make a wonderful discussion book -- either for book groups or in the classroom. The author has a fantastic link on her website for teachers that includes some thought-provoking questions, but I think mother/daughter book clubs could use these resources as well. Some of the life lessons that children will learn (and want to discuss) from this story include inner strength, friendship, loyalty, family love, devotion, and staying true to one's self.

WONDER is an incredibly touching book that had me crying more times than I can count (even during my son's karate class); however, it is also very uplifting and has some wonderful messages about the inner beauty of individuals. I believe this novel has the power to be life-changing for readers of all ages; and I can't recommend it enough! I loved WONDER and want to put it in the hands of every child (and adult) I meet!

I received a copy of WONDER from a friend.

Giveaway alert: Thanks to the fine folks at Random House, I have an amazing contest! I am giving away a signed copy of WONDER to share with one very lucky Booking Mama reader! To enter, just fill out the form below before May 31st at 11:59 p.m. ET. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!
If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Sandy Nawrot said...

I agree Julie, this book lightened my heart. It might start off feeling like a book where you pity the poor deformed little boy, but it turns out to be the most kind-hearted, inspirational story I've read in a very long time. THIS is what a middle grade reader should be. It just doesn't get any better.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I started this but it seemed like it would be too sad so I stopped. I need to pick it up again.

I have another Kid Konnection for Asian Pacific Heritage Month today but am not at home so I can't add my link. But Dumpling Soup is about a very mixed heritage family in Hawaii celebrating a holiday, and has lovely illustrations.

bermudaonion said...

You know I adored this book!!! What a fantastic giveaway!

Joanna said...

I am SO hoping I win this contest. I teach middle school reading & language arts, and I would love to win it so that I can read it, then share with my students! Sounds like something they would love.

Karlie said...

This book sounds awesome. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to transition from home school to middle school. Middle school is tough enough!

Karlie said...

This book sounds awesome. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to transition from home school to middle school. Middle school is tough enough!

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

I JUST picked up a copy of this book from my indie. Read about it after researching bullying online after my son was bullied at school. Cannot wait to start it.

Literary Feline said...

Wonder sounds amazing. It's such a relevant topic for today too. Thank you for bringing it to my attention!