The Panda Book Awards are a set of children’s literary prizes for international books, co-sponsored by beijingkids and awarded by readers across China. Read all about The Panda Book Awards here, and check out the weekly reviews on beijingkids here.
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Reviewer: Vidhi, Year 8D, The British School of Beijing
Book: Wonder by RJ Palacio
Category: Older Readers (Grades 6-8)
Vidhi writes: "R. J. Palacio’s debut, Wonder, is a remarkable read. August Pullman (Auggie) is the main character of this book – he has had a medical condition which requires many trips to the doctor. Due to which he has been home-schooled for most of his early years . The story of Wonder begins when he finally starts to attend normal school from fifth grade. It is narrated from the view point of different characters such as his sister Olivia (Via), his best friends Summer & Jack, and Auggie himself. Wonder depicts Auggie’s struggle throughout the school year and how he goes from sitting alone at lunch to being presented with an award for being himself and his whole class wanting a picture with him.
Wonder really touched my heart and it was very hard to put this book down. Not much action takes place but the characters come to life. R. J. Palacio has written a great first book and I am waiting excitedly for her second title. She lives in New York City and has been an art director and graphic designer for more than twenty years. The idea for her book came from a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice-cream store."
Overview: I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
"Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year," said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
Publisher’s overview via Amazon