This uplifting and moving novel stars August Pullman, a 10-year-old boy with a severe facial disfigurement. When he joins mainstream school after years of home-schooling, he has to contend with friendships, fall-outs and bullying, but manages to maintain an upbeat attitude throughout it all. Find out what we learned from Wonder by R. J. Palacio.
1. Never to judge anyone by their appearance.
August may have an unusual appearance, but his schoolmates soon learn that he's an upbeat, fun and kind kid, and that his appearance has absolutely nothing to do with his personality. The book starkly reveals the senseless, groundless nature of the terrible bullying August has to endure, for he has such a likeable, friendly nature and there is simply no reason for the cruel comments he has to cope with.
2. That in many cases, it's not your circumstances that determine your happiness, but your outlook and attitude.
August is a sparky kid who's full of life and optimism. He understands why people point and stare and can be very self-conscious about it, but ultimately, he doesn't let it get him down. August is an inspirational character who shows those around him that the things you can't change about yourself shouldn't affect your personal happiness and well-being, and that you should accept yourself for who you are.
3. To be brave, stand up for yourself, and not give in to bullying, because it's never okay.
Though he does get upset by people's comments and at one point considers leaving mainstream school again, August ultimately marches on with a courageous, defiant and positive spirit. His attitude is inspiring and reveals how brave he truly is, knowing he will have to face the bullies when he returns to school each day. However, he determinedly rises above the bullying, becomes very popular and wins a prestigious school award, receiving a standing ovation from all the pupils who admire him. In the end, August is a hugely respected and well-liked boy, who denies the bullies the satisfaction of giving in and gains lots of friends in the process, triumphantly overcoming and overshadowing the bullies.