Friday, February 1, 2013

Something to Talk About

R. J. Palacio’s first novel Wonder continues to impress me. Surprisingly, this book (reviewed here in an earlier post) did not receive any major awards at the recent American Library Association gathering. What it has gotten—and continues to get—is impressive word-of-mouth support from readers.

Here’s a quick example: Last night at the bookstore where I work in suburban Metrowest Boston, a girl (probably a fifth grader) came in with her father. She found the Dork Diary she was looking for, but that’s not the book that she wanted to tell her father about.

Instead, she picked a copy of Wonder off the shelf and proceeded to discuss it in detail. She was on page 180 and couldn’t wait to finish the book. This story, she explained, was told by different people. “August has all of this part at the beginning, then other people like his sister and Summer tell it too.”

Even more touching to me than hearing a fifth grader discuss narrative structure (how often does that happen??) was witnessing the obvious affection she had for the book and its characters.

While working at the bookstore, I’ve talked to many teachers about Wonder. They’ve spoken about it glowingly as well. A few times other customers have even chimed in.

So, if you haven’t thought about reading this book—or if you’ve decided you need only read the big award winners this time of year—think again. Wonder will give you something to talk about.


  1. All of the teachers in the middle school where I teach are reading it aloud to students, who are anxious to continue every chance we get. What a great catalyst for conversations about how we treat other people!

  2. Glad to hear you're getting such a positive response, Ghostfarmer. FYI, a school librarian I talked to a the bookstore where I work shared that her students, while disappointed that WONDER didn't get a big award, all agreed that "it's so good, it doesn't need one"!