Wonder (Palacio novel)

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Wonder Cover Art.png
AuthorR. J. Palacio
Cover artistTad Carpenter
Middle school
GenreChildren's novel
PublisherAlfred A. Knopf
Publication date
February 14, 2012
AwardsMaine Student Book Award
Vermont's Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award
Mark Twain Award
Hawaii's Nene Award
Junior Young Reader's Choice Award

Wonder is a children's novel by Raquel Jaramillo, under the pen name of R. J. Palacio,[2] published on February 14, 2012.

R. J. Palacio wrote Wonder after an incident where her son noticed a girl with a severe facial deformity and started to cry. Fearing he would react badly, Palacio attempted to remove her son from the situation so as not to upset the girl and her family but ended up worsening the situation. Natalie Merchant's song "Wonder" made her realize that the incident could illustrate a valuable lesson. Palacio was inspired by Merchant's lyrics and she began writing. She named the book directly after the song, and used the song's chorus as the prologue of the first chapter.[3]

Several spin-offs, including the calendar book 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts[4] and Auggie and Me have been published.[5] A film adaptation was released in 2017.


August "Auggie" Pullman is a homeschooled fifth-grader living in North River Heights in Upper Manhattan with his parents. He has a medical condition, often equated with Treacher Collins syndrome, which has left his face disfigured. Due to his condition, August has been homeschooled by his mother; however, wanting him to experience a larger world, his parents enroll him into Beecher Middle School for the start of fifth grade. August has a sister, Olivia "Via" Pullman, who is older than he is and often puts her brother's needs before her own.

On his first day of school, August tries not to draw attention to himself. His efforts are in vain, and Julian, one of the students whom the principal has asked to help August at school, immediately bullies him for his appearance. August's hopes for the school year are later raised slightly when he forms friendships with classmates Jack and Summer, both of whom defend him from Julian's taunts.

The situation comes to a head on Halloween when August, disguised in a costume, overhears Jack joining in with the bullying. As August isolates himself from his classmates and family, his sister Olivia's frustration grows, fueled by years of feeling ignored by her family.

Returning to school, August ignores Jack but admits to Summer that he had overheard the incident. Jack feels ashamed for his actions, and punches Julian in the mouth and he gets suspended from school. Over the winter break, Jack reconciles with August.

As the school year progresses, the bullying August faces become more serious and extends to Jack as well. Julian manipulates several friends into turning against August and Jack. In addition, Julian's mother voices her concerns over August's attending the school, citing that his appearance may be too much of a burden for the other students to handle.

Olivia confides in her mother that she does not want August to attend her school play, as she had found comfort in the fact that nobody at her new school knew about her brother's condition. August overhears and storms out of the room.

When the main actress, Miranda, Via's (Olivia's) best friend, decides that Via should take the leading role of the school play, she told the director that she couldn't be in the school play, Olivia takes on the role. Her family celebrates by taking her and Miranda out for dinner.

At the end of the school year, the students are invited on a three-day school trip to a nature reserve. August is initially concerned about going. However, upon hearing that Julian will not be attending (due to being suspended for two weeks for his behavior), August decides to join his friends on the trip. He has fun until the last night, when he and Jack go to the woods and are attacked by seventh graders who start to beat them, only to be saved by Julian's friends. August lost his hearing aids and started hearing ocean sounds. One of the boys said "your hearing aids fell off." He got concerned because he could barely hear much anymore because the ocean sounds were taking over his ability to hear.

With the summer vacation fast approaching, August is informed that Julian will not be returning to Beecher Prep for the next grade. The Pullman family get a new puppy, whom they call 'Bear'. At the graduation ceremony, August is awarded the 'Henry Ward Beecher Medal' for being 'notable or exemplary in certain areas throughout the school year'. Incredibly proud of her son, August's mother comments that he is a 'wonder'.

Main characters[edit]

  • August "Auggie" Pullman: His face is deformed due to a type of "bulofacial dysostosis",[6]:104 along with other facial malformations. He faces many difficulties when he goes into his first year of middle school after being schooled by his parents for many years. In the end, he is able to make new friends and accept himself for who he is.
  • Olivia "Via" Pullman: August's older sister. She talks about the boy Auggie and the hardships of being a sister of someone who is deformed in Part 2. Often, Via feels jealous. She often scolds herself and feels guilty for feeling this way.
  • Jack Will: One of Auggie's friends from school
  • Summer Dawson: One of Auggie's first and best friends. She sits next to him at lunch on the first day of school when no one else would. She is always very kind to him.
  • Isabel and Nate Pullman: Auggie and Via's parents. They care deeply about Auggie and Via, but due to Auggie's problems, Via is often unintentionally left out. Isabel and Nate work with Auggie to make sure going to regular school instead of being homeschooled is ultimately his decision.
  • Julian Albans: The school bully of the grade. He dislikes Auggie and convinces the other students that if they touch him, they will develop "The Plague." He bullied Auggie and told most of the grade to isolate him, and Jack Will for becoming friends with Auggie. At the end of the story, Julian's parents take him out of Beecher, as they say, they don't feel Beecher Prep is an "inclusion school" and they think Auggie shouldn't have been admitted.[6]:162
  • Justin: Via's boyfriend. He has a main part in "Our Town" with Via at their high school. In his part in the book, he doesn't use proper punctuation because he thinks it takes too long to write. He also mentions that he has "tics," especially when he is nervous and describes them as "hard blinks" and "the occasional head pull."[6]:190 This leads the reader to believe that he has a form of Tourette's syndrome. Justin also gets to meet Via's parents.
  • Charlotte Cody: She is a smart 5th grader and one of August's friends. She is generally nice to Auggie and warned Jack about the "boy war" declared by Julian.
  • Edward "Eddie" Johnson: He is a 7th grader who bullies August when he goes to a sleepaway camp.
  • Mr. Browne: Auggie's first teacher in 5th grade at Beecher Prep school. As he makes precepts for every month for the class to ponder, Auggie marvels at these precepts. Mr. Browne wants to give Auggie a good year at Beecher.
  • Bear: August and Via's second dog that they got after the camping trip that Auggie went on, as a replacement for Daisy.
  • Darth Daisy "Daisy": Via and August's first dog, who goes by "Daisy." She was an old dog, and at the end of the book she dies. August's family then decides to get a new dog named Bear.
  • Miranda Navas: Via's friend. Via, Miranda, and Ella were friends. Miranda had recently cut her hair into a bob and dyed it pink, and dressed in a manner that she would have never dressed before. Via is shocked by Miranda's new look, and the two former friends slowly drift apart. Miranda took care of August and thought of him as her own "little brother;" when she went to summer camp immediately previous to the events in the book. She was the one who gave him his astronaut helmet he would wear to conceal his face, and they would also sing "Space Oddity" by David Bowie together, and she would call him "Major Tom" after the astronaut in the song.
  • Mr. Lawrence Tushman: The director of Beecher Prep. He is extremely welcoming and positive towards Auggie throughout the course of the school year. He tries his hardest to make him feel welcome at school. He delivers an important speech at graduation where he says "if every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world would be a better place."[6]:301


Critical reception[edit]

The book received positive reviews from critics.[7][8]

The parent resource Common Sense Media gave Wonder four out of five stars, calling it a "Moving, uplifting tale about a disfigured boy with inner beauty".[9]

Entertainment Weekly said: "In a wonder of a debut, Palacio has written a crackling page-turner filled with characters you can't help but root for". The New York Times called it, "Rich and memorable [...] It's Auggie and the rest of the children who are the real heart of Wonder, and Palacio captures the voices of girls and boys, fifth graders, and teenagers, with equal skill".


Wonder was on The New York Times Best Seller list[10] and was also on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list.[11] The book was the winner of the 2014 Maine Student Book Award, Vermont's Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award, the 2015 Mark Twain Award,[12] Hawaii's 2015 Nene Award,[13] and the Junior Young Reader's Choice Award for 2015.[14] In Illinois, it won both the Bluestem and Caudill Awards in 2014.[15]


The novel, written in English, has been translated into 29 other languages for world wide sales: Spanish, Catalan, Japanese, German, French, Portuguese, Danish, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Norwegian, Icelandic, Swedish, Faroese, Turkish, Dutch, Persian, Italian, Finnish, Russian, Korean, Chinese, Ukrainian, Polish, Croatian, Greek, Romanian, Vietnamese and Slovenian.[16]

First published in 2012 by Alfred A. Knopf (now part of Penguin Random House), the novel was still a top seller for the firm in 2017, when it sold 5 million copies in combined book and e-book units in the United States alone.[17]

Film adaptation[edit]

A film adaptation directed by Stephen Chbosky and written by Steve Conrad starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as Isabel and Nate Pullman respectively, and Jacob Tremblay as August Pullman was released on November 17, 2017 by Lionsgate.

Related books[edit]

Auggie and Me[edit]

Auggie and Me is not a sequel but a companion book to Wonder (although "The Julian Chapter" serves as one). It contains three stories, each telling the events of Wonder from different perspectives. The first story, called "The Julian Chapter", is told from the point of view of school bully Julian where he explains why he mistreats Auggie and if he will change. The second, called "Pluto", focuses on August Pullman's life before Beecher Prep and is told from the point of view of Christopher, Auggie's oldest friend. The third is called "Shingaling" and is told from the point of view of Auggie's classmate Charlotte, who, in Wonder, is nice but not kind enough to Auggie; it focuses on things that were going on between some of the girls in Auggie's year, such as Ximena Chin, Summer Dawson, and Maya Markowitz.

365 Days of Wonder[edit]

In Wonder, Mr. Browne made a precept for every month. 365 Days of Wonder states 365 different precepts collected by Mr. Browne. It also has thoughts and opinions by Mr. Browne after every month in the book.

We're All Wonders[edit]

In this short picture book, Auggie talks about his life before the book Wonder. Auggie focuses in this story on how we are all wonders. August has on his astronaut helmet most of the time.


  1. ^ "Wonder (Book, 2012)". WorldCat.org. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  2. ^ "'Wonder' What It's Like To Have Kids Stare At You?". New York Times. March 22, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  3. ^ "A 'Wonder'-filled day: Best-selling author surprises Ann Arbor elementary student". MLive.com. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  4. ^ Alter, Alexandra (Feb 13, 2014). "R.J. Palacio's 'Wonder' Spins Off Two Follow-Up Books". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  5. ^ "Auggie & Me".
  6. ^ a b c d Palacio, R.J. (2012). Wonder (1st ed.). [s.l.]: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0375869026.
  7. ^ The Dormouse (February 2, 2014). "Wonder by R. J. Palacio - review". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Chilton, Martin (February 24, 2012). "Wonder by R.J Palacio: review". The Telegraph.
  9. ^ Barbara Schultz. "Wonder Book Review". "Common Sense Media".
  10. ^ Taylor, Ihsan. "Best Sellers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  11. ^ "Texas Bluebonnet Award Annotated 2013-2014 Master List" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  12. ^ "Children's Book Award Winners Announced at Maine Reading Conference". Maine.gov. 2014-04-10. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  13. ^ "'Wonder' Selected as 2015 Nene Award Winner". Mauinow.com. 2015-04-10. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  14. ^ "YRCA 2015". Pnla.org. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  15. ^ "Champagne Library Illinois Award Winners". Archived from the original on 19 October 2016.
  16. ^ Palacio, Raquel J. "Formats and Editions of Wonder". Worldcat.org. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  17. ^ Milliot, Jim (2018-03-27). "PRH Has Stable 2017". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2019-01-09.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
The Unwanteds
Mark Twain Award
Succeeded by
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Preceded by
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
Junior Young Reader's Choice Award
Succeeded by