R.J. Palacio made her first big debut as the writer of Wonder. After many years of the novel being on every best-selling list, it gained enough momentum to become a motion picture being released next year. Readers fell in love with Auggie and his story about acceptance. Therefore, you can imagine the excitement when Palacio decided to write her first-ever picture book We’re All Wonders.
Aside from the cover featuring the iconic Auggie used in Wonder, the story follows a similar plot line as well. We’re All Wonders is about a boy who is like any other kid but just looks a little different. Due to his facial deformity, others make fun of him and treat him with disrespect. When this happens, all Auggie wants to do is escape on an adventure with Daisy to a world where he feels like he belongs. The book’s message really teaches younger readers the importance of being kind and celebrating the things that make you unique. It also inspires children to embrace, not chastise, differences. Instead of harping on the things that make you ordinary, Palacio wants each child to find the wonders within them that make them extraordinary. Ultimately, the take away to younger audiences is that when people look with empathy, we find a more thoughtful, caring world.
One reason this story is so incredible is that you do not need to read Wonder in order to understand We’re All Wonders. It is written from a first-person point of view that attracts all ages of audiences. Simply by reading the short, highly decodable text, any reader can understand what it is like to live in Auggie’s world with all the struggles that he faces. The text is also not the main focus of the page. The images are an integral part of the text. The full spread layouts really help readers get excited to turn the page and move through the story. The colorful painted pictures fill the page. The spirals used in the sky as part of the clouds and trees also get readers in the mood of being creative and imaginative. Since there is so much going on design wise, the images really capture readers’ attention. My favorite part of the illustrations was Palacio depicting a multicultural perspective of all different kinds of children. These small details really help represent diversity of characters and thoughts.
As a special education major, this is a story that I would recommend every teacher buying. Its message is simple and clear: we are all special, we are all unique and we should all be friends even if we are a little different. In order to foster an accepting environment where differences are celebrated, I also think all schools should embed this story into their beginning of the school year curriculum to set an inclusive precedent. I know after reading this story, I am always going to choose kindness.
Review By: Samantha Soloway