Isn't it amazing when an author hits a home run the first time they come up to bat. Gail Carson Levine did it with Ella Enchanted, Kate diCamillo did it with Because of Winn Dixie, and Palacio does it here with Wonder.
August is a boy with a major deformity of his face. He has never attended school, mostly because he had been in and out of the hospital since he was born, having undergone more than two dozen reconstructive surgeries. Finally, at age 11, he is strong enough to try school. At first he is very nervous. His face is so misshapen that is sometimes scares people. His class mates at school do not know what to think of him and are afraid to even touch him. But a few of the children reach out to Auggie, and over the school year his courage inspires admiration and friendship from his peers. This book is so well written. The characters seem completely authentic and the boy, Auggie, and his family are so likable The story doesn't candy coat things. It shows how painful it can be to be "not normal" and how people can be cruel both intentionally and unintentionally. Although the book is honest, it is not a big downer. The overall tone is upbeat and the author portrays those kids who are willing to overlook Auggie's disfigurement as real heroes. There is a lot of talk around my library that this as a strong contender for this year's Newbery. I hope so. I would love it if every kid in the country would read this book. (315 p)