Wonder (Palacio novel)

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Front cover, illustrated by Tad Carpenter
AuthorR. J. Palacio
Cover artistTad Carpenter
GenreChildren's novel
PublisherAlfred A. Knopf
Publication date
14 February 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 contemporary children's novel written by R. J. Palacio[2] and published on 14 February 2012. Wonder is in part inspired by an incident where the author's son started to cry after noticing a girl with a severe facial deformity. Inspiration was also pulled from Natalie Merchant's song of the same name. Several spin-offs have been published, including 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts,[3] We're All Wonders, Auggie and Me, and White Bird.[4] A film adaptation was released in 2017, and a spin-off sequel film (adapting White Bird) followed in 2024.


The book centers August "Auggie" Pullman, a 10-year-old living in North Riverside Heights in Lower Manhattan. He has Treacher Collins syndrome, which has disfigured his face and required many surgeries and special care. Due to his condition, August has been homeschooled by his mother for several years; however, wanting him to experience the world, his parents enroll him into Beecher Prep, a private school, for the start of fifth grade. Auggie has an older sister, Olivia "Via" Pullman, who is entering her first year of high school.

Before the start of the school year, Auggie's mother takes him to meet the principal, Mr. Tushman, who has asked three other students — Jack Will, Charlotte, and Julian — to take him on a tour of the school. Auggie is treated unkindly by Julian, who acts respectfully in front of adults. On his first day of school, Auggie tries to avoid drawing attention to himself, but is bullied by Julian and his friends. Auggie is approached and befriended at lunch by a classmate named Summer, and is paired in most of his classes with Jack, whom he also considers a friend.

On Halloween, Auggie, dressed as Bleeding Scream, overhears Jack, who was expecting Auggie to dress up as Boba Fett, joining in with Julian and his friends in making fun of Auggie. Devastated, Auggie stays home for several days and isolates himself from his family, frustrating Via, who resents Auggie for the priority he receives over her from their parents. Returning to school, Auggie ignores Jack and confides in Summer about the incident with Jack. Jack presses Summer about Auggie being upset, who hints at the cause. When Jack realizes this, he is ashamed, and re-commits to his friendship with Auggie. This draws Julian's ire, and Jack and Julian have a fight. Jack reconciles with Auggie, but is ostracized from his popular classmates, as Julian's influence divides the students into factions over the conflict. Julian's mother writes to Tushman to voice her concerns over Auggie attending the school, citing that his appearance may be too much of a burden for the other students to handle.

Via confides to her mother that she does not want Auggie to attend her school play, as she has enjoyed the fresh start her new school has given her, free of the burden of being associated with Auggie and his condition. Auggie overhears and angrily sulks in his room, hoping his mother will come comfort him, but Via comes in instead to tell him that their dog Daisy is dying. She urges him to come out to say goodbye before Daisy is taken to the vet and euthanized, which he does.

Meanwhile, Via's best friend Miranda has started avoiding her, for reasons unknown to Via. Both audition for the lead in their school play, and Miranda gets the part, with Via as her understudy. On opening night, Miranda sees Via's family in the audience and feigns illness so that Via can take her place for the evening. After the show, the two reconcile.

At the end of Auggie's school year, the fifth grade class goes on a three-day trip to a nature reserve. Auggie is initially concerned about going because of Julian, but hears that Julian will not be attending.[5] On the last night of the trip, Auggie and Jack are walking alone in the woods when they are attacked by a group of older students from another school. Julian's friends happen to walk by, and they rush to the defense of their classmates, impressed by Auggie's boldness in standing up to the bullies. Auggie becomes accepted by his school peers.

At graduation, Auggie is awarded the Henry Ward Beecher Medal for his strength and character throughout the school year, while Julian's parents decide to send Julian to a different school the following year.


Critical reception[edit]

The book received primarily positive reviews from professional critics.[6][7] Common Sense Media gave Wonder four out of five stars, calling it a "moving, uplifting tale about a disfigured boy with inner beauty."[8] 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."

Critiques of the books by activists in the disability rights movement were more mixed. Disability activist Carly Findlay identified strongly with the story, saying, "as a reader with a visible difference, I will say that it's very well researched."[9] Disfigured person Mike Moody, writing on the Disability in Kidlit blog, described the book as "an engaging, heart-rending story about disfigurement" but also discussed disappointment over the "missed opportunity" in the continued downplaying of the main character's disability and his persistent lack of agency.[10] Ariel Henley, an author with Crouzon syndrome, wrote an article in Teen Vogue titled "What 'Wonder' Gets Wrong About Disfigurement and Craniofacial Disorders"; the article focuses on the casting of a non-disabled actor for the movie adaptation, but also discusses the plot, arguing that "Auggie is used as a prop to teach those around him about acceptance and compassion."[11]


Wonder was on The New York Times Best Seller list[12] and was also on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list.[13] 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 Readers Award,[14] Hawaii's 2015 Nene Award,[15] and the Junior Young Reader's Choice Award for 2015.[16] In Illinois, it won both the Bluestem and Caudill Awards in 2014.[17]


The novel has been translated into 29 languages for worldwide sales: Spanish, Catalan, Japanese, German, French, Portuguese, Danish, Czech, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Norwegian, Icelandic, Swedish, Faroese, Turkish, Dutch, Persian, Italian, Finnish, Russian, Korean, Chinese, Ukrainian, Polish, Croatian, Greek, Romanian, Vietnamese, and Slovenian.[18]

First published in 2012 by Alfred A. Knopf (now part of Penguin Random House), the novel was a top seller for the firm when the film was released in 2017, when it sold 5 million copies in combined book and ebook units in the United States.[19]

Film adaptations[edit]

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


A film adaptation of White Bird was released in 2023. It was directed by Marc Forster and written by Mark Bomback, starring Bryce Gheisar, Gillian Anderson, and Helen Mirren as Julian Albans, Vivienne, and Grandmère respectively. The film was supposed to be released on 14 October 2022,[20] after being initially scheduled to release on 16 September 2022.[21] In January 2023, it was announced that the film was scheduled to debut in a limited release on 18 August 2023, followed by a wide release on 25 August 2023.[22] It was delayed again due to the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, then premiered at the 43rd San Francisco Jewish Film Festival on July 30, 2023.[23]

Related books[edit]

Auggie & Me[edit]

Auggie & Me is a companion book to Wonder. 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, explaining why he mistreats Auggie. The second, called "Pluto," focuses on Auggie'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 the first person that is nice to him at Beecher Prep; it focuses on relationships and events between some of the girls in Auggie's year, such as Ximena Chin, Summer Dawson, and Maya Markowitz.

Though originally published separately, the three stories were eventually grouped together and sold as one book.[24]

365 Days of Wonder[edit]

In Wonder, Auggie's teacher Mr. Browne assigns a precept to each month. 365 Days of Wonder contains 365 of his precepts as well as some of Mr. Browne's thoughts after every month.

We're All Wonders[edit]

In this short picture book, Auggie talks about his life before the events of Wonder. He has his astronaut helmet on most of the time throughout.

White Bird: A Wonder Story[edit]

In this 2019 graphic novel, Julian's Parisian grandmother tells him stories of her childhood as a young Jewish girl living in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, when she was hidden from the Nazis by a classmate and his family. A film adaptation will be released in October 2024.[22]


  1. ^ Wonder (Book, 2012). OCLC 726819876.
  2. ^ "'Wonder' What It's Like To Have Kids Stare At You?". NPR. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  3. ^ Alter, Alexandra (13 February 2014). "R.J. Palacio's 'Wonder' Spins Off Two Follow-Up Books". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories". Goodreads.
  5. ^ "Wonder Summary and Analysis of Part VIII: August". Grade Saver. 2 February 2014.
  6. ^ "Wonder by R. J. Palacio - review". The Guardian. 2 February 2014.
  7. ^ Chilton, Martin (24 February 2012). "Wonder by R.J Palacio: review". The Telegraph.
  8. ^ Barbara Schultz. "Wonder Book Review". Common Sense Media.
  9. ^ Findlay, Carly (3 June 2014). "Wonder by RJ Palacio. Choose kind". Carly Findlay. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  10. ^ Moody, Mike (19 January 2018). "Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio". Disability in Kid Lit. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  11. ^ Henley, Ariel (9 August 2017). "What "Wonder" Gets Wrong About Disfigurement and Craniofacial Disorders". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  12. ^ Taylor, Ihsan. "Best Sellers". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Texas Bluebonnet Award Annotated 2013-2014 Master List" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Children's Book Award Winners Announced at Maine Reading Conference". Maine.gov. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  15. ^ "'Wonder' Selected as 2015 Nene Award Winner". Mauinow.com. 10 April 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  16. ^ "YRCA Three Division Winners 2011-2022". Pacific Northwest Library Association. Retrieved 10 November 2023.
  17. ^ "Champagne Library Illinois Award Winners". Archived from the original on 19 October 2016.
  18. ^ Palacio, Raquel J. Formats and Editions of Wonder. OCLC 726819876.
  19. ^ Milliot, Jim (27 March 2018). "PRH Has Stable 2017". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  20. ^ Fuster, Jeremy (1 February 2022). "'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret' Set for September Release by Lionsgate". TheWrap. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  21. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (28 April 2021). "Lionsgate Dates Samuel L. Jackson's 'The Protege', Jennifer Lopez's 'Shotgun Wedding' & 'White Bird: A Wonder Story'". Deadline. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  22. ^ a b Watson, Madalyn (20 January 2023). "'White Bird: A Wonder Story' Sets Summer Release Date". Collider. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  23. ^ "White Bird". Jewish Film Institute. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  24. ^ "The World of Wonder". Penguin Random House. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2023.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Mark Twain Award
Succeeded by
Preceded by Young Reader's Choice Award
Succeeded by
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library