Wonder by R.J. Palacio
We’ve heard a lot about Wonder by R.J. Palacio since it it was released in 2012. The book has received many literary awards for it’s realistic look into the life of August, a child with a facial deformity, as well as the lives of those around him. The story is simply touching.
The character narratives are split into sections, giving us a powerful look into the minds of August, his friends, and his family. The book is laced with quotes primarily from famous songs and begins with a line from Wonder by Natalie Merchant – perhaps where the name of the book was birthed. “Fate smiled and destiny laughed as she came to my cradle…”
A key feature in the book is the precepts from Mr. Browne, one of August’s teachers. Mr. Browne describes precepts as “rules about really important things” and believes that the most important thing is figuring out who we are. The first precept introduced is an efficacious one… “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind”.
11 Year Old Kid View
Wonder by Raquel J. Palacio is an inspiring novel based on a boy named August who’s face is deformed. He is entering middle school for his first time at any school and it is tricky because he is no ordinary kid, to others. It makes you remember how lucky you are and how there is ups and downs to everything. August finds true friends during the book that will stand up for him no matter what and in the end he doesn’t feel so different because inside he knows he is just a normal kid. Some books that I read I sort of forget most of it, but this book I will always remember and I’m sure that won’t be the last time I read it. 🙂
We used this story as a part of our literature curriculum. Here are the questions we discussed after each section:
Part 1 – August
- Do you think that August is having the same feelings most have before going to a new school? What makes his feelings the same? What makes them different?
- What is a precept? What does Mr. Browne think the most important precept is? Why is it so important?
- How do Jack Will and Summer make August feel? How is it different from the way the other kids make him feel?
- Being different is celebrated a lot of times. Like in our family, we say we are weird but we mean that in a cool/fun/awesome/not boring way. However, there are times when you don’t choose to be different but you are. How do you think that affects the situation?
- Precept: Your deeds are your monuments. Read August’s response to this out loud. What do you think about this precept and his response?
- Why was it important to August to invite all the kids in his class to his birthday party?
- Jack Will really hurt August with the things he said about him behind his back. Do you think that Jack Will would have said those things if he knew that August was listening? Do you think he really felt them or was trying to be cool in front of other kids?
- How do you think you would feel if you heard someone talking about you that way? Would it make a difference if you thought the person was your friend?
Part 2 – Via
- What do you think it would be like growing up an older sibling of someone who was like August? What things do you think you would feel?
- What do you think it’s like for Via to know that she’s carrying the gene that made August the way he is? Do you think she will be scared to have kids?
- Why do you think Via got worked up about Miranda calling to check in on August? She was pushing him so hard to get over what other people said about him but was still upset about how Miranda was being to her. Why do you think that is?
Part 3 – Summer
- Why do you think people made a big deal about Summer hanging out with August?
- Do you think it was good that she left the Halloween party when she was feeling uncomfortable?
- How do you feel about Summer after reading her section?
Part 4 – Jack
- Why did Jack Will change his mind about telling Mr. Tushman he would help out the new kid?
- How did he end up feeling about August after he started hanging out with him? Was he surprised by these feelings?
- Precept: Fortune favors the bold. What do you think that means?
- How did Jack feel hanging out with Julian and Miles compared to how he felt hanging out with August?
- Jack Will began to get a taste of how it felt for August when the kids started ignoring him. How do you think he’s going to deal with it?
Part 5 – Justin
- Do you think Via was nervous about Justin meeting August? What clue does she give that makes you think that?
- Why does Justin like Via’s family? How is it different from his own?
- Why do you think Justin threatens Julian and his friends after they give Jack a hard time?
- What does Justin mean at the end when he says that “Maybe it is a lottery, but the universe makes it all even out in the end. The universe takes care of all its birds”?
Part 6 – August
- It’s hard being a family and everyone makes mistakes, but when it comes down to it everyone will do what’s best for the family. What mistake did each person make that caused the fight? What happened that made them all realize that they love each other more than anything?
- What do you think really happened with Miranda? Why didn’t she perform?
Part 7 – Miranda
- Why did Miranda end up letting Via perform?
- Do you think their relationship will change after this night? How so?
- Why did she say that it was the first time in a long time she felt truly happy?
Part 8 – August
- Do you think it was more refreshing or scary for August to be on his own for the school trip?
- How do you think Amos, Henry, and Miles sticking up for August will change the way they interact with him at school? Do you think it will change how others treat him too? What about Julian?
- How do you think August’s parents will react to the situation? Will they be upset about the hearing aides?
- Why do you think everyone in August’s family was so happy to see him when he got home from the trip?
- What “shift” happened with how people treated him at school?
- Why did Mr. Tushman hang up August’s art project in his office? Describe what it was and what significance Mr. Tushman associated with it?
- What does the last precept “Just follow the day and reach for the sun” mean to you?
- What happened to the helmet that August used to wear all the time as a kid? Why?
- “Shall we make a new rule of life…always try to be a little kinder than is necessary?” quote by J.M. Barrie in The Little White Bird. Why is this quote so powerful?
- How did August feel about the award he got? Did he think he did anything special to deserve it?
- How did he feel about getting his picture taken after the ceremony? How had that changed for him?
Written Essay Questions
* we used 3 of the questions posted here
- Why is this novel told from the points of view of multiple characters?
- How do Mr. Browne’s precepts play into the book?
- Julian is the only character who does not learn a lesson about kindness at the end of the book. Why do you think the author chose not to have him change?
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