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Wonder (Palacio novel)

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Cover artist  Tad Carpenter
Publication date  February 14, 2012
Originally published  14 February 2012
Page count  315
4.4/5 Goodreads

Publisher  Alfred A. Knopf
Pages  315
Author  Raquel J. Palacio
Illustrator  Raquel J. Palacio
Wonder (Palacio novel) t2gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcSXh2jXz08H7FgNMl
Language  English, Spanish, Catalan, Japanese, German, Portuguese, Danish, Serbian, Arabic
Subject  Prejudice Self-acceptance Middle school Friendship Pet death Bullying
Genres  Children's literature, Fiction
Nominations  Carnegie Medal, Goodreads Choice Awards Best Middle Grade & Children's
Similar  Raquel J Palacio books, Children's literature

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


Palacio wrote Wonder after an incident where she and her three-year-old son were waiting in line to buy ice cream. Her son noticed a girl with facial birth defects. Fearing he would react badly, Palacio attempted to remove her son from the situation so as not to upset the girl or her family but ended up worsening the situation. Natalie Merchant's song "Wonder" made her realize that the incident could teach society a valuable lesson. Palacio was inspired by Merchant's lyrics and she began writing. The book has a released spin-off, 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts. In August 2015, the book Auggie and Me was published. A film adaptation is set for release in 2017.


August "Auggie" Pullman is a 10-year-old living in the fictional neighborhood of North River Heights in upper Manhattan. He has a rare medical facial deformity, which he refers to as "mandibulofacial dysostosis", more commonly known as Treacher Collins syndrome and a cleft palate. Due to numerous surgeries, Auggie had been home-schooled by his mother, but his parents decide to enroll him in Beecher Prep, a private school, for the start of middle school in the fall.

Auggie visits Beecher with his mother and meets the school director Mr. Tushman, along with three students: Jack Will, Julian Albans, and Charlotte Cody. Although extremely self-conscious and scared of being around kids his own age, Auggie gradually gets used to school. He befriends Jack and Charlotte as well as a girl named Summer Dawson, who sat with him during lunch when everyone else wouldn't. Julian, however, barely conceals his disgust at Auggie's appearance, avoids him and often makes hurtful remarks. He bullies Auggie and hates him for the way he looks.

During Halloween, when Auggie doesn't feel like wearing his Boba Fett costume because he didn't want to make his father even more late for work, he wears a "Bleeding Scream" costume instead, a robe with a mask that has fake blood oozing out. Unrecognized, he walks around school knowing he would not get bullied as his face is covered by the mask. When he reaches homeroom, he overhears Jack telling Julian he would "kill himself" if he looked like Auggie. Feeling hurt and betrayed by Jack, Auggie decides to quit school, but his older sister Olivia, known in the book as Via, convinces him not to. Auggie confides the incident to Summer, and making her promise not to tell anyone about the issue. Jack notices that Auggie has become quiet and distant; he asks Summer why, and though she won't divulge the secret, she says "Bleeding Scream" as a hint. At first, he isn't aware that Auggie heard of what he said and believes that he's just avoiding him for no reason, so he starts avoiding him too. In December, however, Jack realizes Auggie had overheard what he said and realizes that he also heard that Jack was pretending to be friends with him, leaving Jack shocked. In science class, Auggie and Jack are partners for a project. When Julian asks the teacher if he could be Jack's partner instead, Jack declines. But when Julian calls Auggie a "freak," Jack punches Julian in the face in retaliation. As a result, Jack is suspended for two days for his actions. Knowing that Julian would get them both in trouble for bad-mouthing Auggie, Jack does not tell Mr. Tushman what happened. Julian's mother says that Auggie does not belong in Beecher Prep, as it is not an "inclusion school", but Mr. Tushman and everyone else disagrees with her. Jack sincerely apologizes to Auggie, saying he didn't mean to say the stuff he said about him, and they become friends again.

During the rest of the school year, August is bullied by Julian and his gang. They begin to leave bullying notes on his and Jack Will's lockers, eventually causing them to write notes back, though less mean and more comedic, about a fictional character named Beulah. One night, August gets into a fight with Via and his mom, and August storms up to his room. A few minutes later, Via comes inside and tells August that their mom took their dog, Daisy, to the vet because she was whimpering a lot. Later, August's mom and dad came back, and said Daisy had a tumor in her stomach, possibly stomach cancer, and had to be put to sleep. During a school trip to a nature reserve, August and Jack are attacked by seventh graders, they are defended by several members who were Julian's friends, since Julian wasn't at the trip, he becomes less popular, and August is generally more accepted by the pupils of the school.

At the years end, at the graduation ceremony, Auggie is awarded the "Henry Ward Beecher Medal" which "honors students who have been notable or exemplary in certain areas throughout the school year." He gets a standing ovation, which inspires his precept for Mr. Browne, and takes pictures with everyone (something he had always refused to do) and goes back to his house for a party to celebrate. The book ends with his mother whispering in his ear, "You really are a wonder, Auggie. You are a wonder."

Main Characters

  • August "Auggie" Pullman: The main character. His face is deformed due to "mandibulofacial dystosis", along with other facial malformations. He faces many difficulties when he enrolls in his first year of middle school after being home schooled 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 Auggie and the hardships of being a sister of someone who is deformed in Part 2. She truly cares for Auggie and will always defend him. Often, Via feels jealous of the attention Auggie receives because of his deformity. She often scolds herself and feels guilty for feeling this way.
  • Summer Dawson: One of Auggie's first and best friends. She sat next to him on the first day of school when no one else would. She didn't care what the other students thought of Auggie, and was 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 private school instead of being home schooled is ultimately his decision.
  • Jack Will: August's best friend. Mr. Tushman asked Jack, Charlotte, and Julian to give August a tour of Beecher Prep. At first, Jack did not want to be friends with Auggie because of his facial deformity. He thought it would prevent him from being friends with the "popular kids." He, at first, pretended to be friends with Auggie, and was devastated when August found out, but they become friends again. Later, he comes to genuinely appreciate August for who he is.
  • Julian Albans: He dislikes Auggie and tries to convince 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.
  • Justin: Via's boyfriend. He is somewhat shocked by Auggie's appearance but is very kind to him. He has a main part in "Our Town" with Via at their high school. In his part in the book, he doesn't capitalize his "I"s. He also mentions that he has "tics," especially when he is nervous and describes them as "hard blinks" and "the occasional head pull." This leads the reader to believe that he has a form of Tourette's syndrome. Justin also gets to meet Via's parents. Also, the reason why in Justin's chapters there is no proper punctuation is because he thinks it takes too long to write.
  • Daisy: Via and August's first dog, who's real name is "Darth Daisy." She was August's first true friend. She was an old dog, and at the end of the book has to be put to sleep. August's family then gets 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, Miranda lied and told everyone August was her brother.
  • 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."
  • 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 the class to ponder Auggie is marveled at these precepts. Mr. Browne wants to give Auggie a good year at Beecher.
  • Bear: August and Via's second dog.
  • Critical reception

    The book received positive reviews from critics.

    Wonder received a positive review from the trusted parent resource Common Sense Media based on educational value, positive messages/role models, violence, sex and language.


    "Wonder" was on The New York Times Best Seller list and was also on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list. 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 and Hawaii's 2015 Nene Award. In Illinois it won both the Bluestem and Caudill Awards in 2014.

    Film adaptation

    A film adaptation, Wonder, has been announced starring Julia Roberts as Isabel Pullman, Jacob Tremblay as August Pullman, and Owen Wilson as Nate Pullman. The film is slated for release into theaters nationwide on April 7, 2017

    Auggie and Me

    Auggie and Me is not the second book but a companion book to Wonder. This book contains three stories, each telling the events of Wonder in different perspective.

    365 Days of Wonder

    In Wonder, Mr. Browne made a precept for every month. In 365 Days of Wonder, it gives you 365 different precepts collected by Mr. Browne.


    Wonder (Palacio novel) Wikipedia