When I first read R.J. Palacio's Wonder back in 2013, I hadn't read a new middle grade book since, well, I was actually in middle school. So I was pretty surprised when it ended up being one of the most moving reading experiences I'd had in a long time...and perhaps will ever have. It made me laugh and cry and it broke my heart then put it back together again. And I'm not alone. Not only has Wonder been endlessly popular with readers since it was published (it was one of my biggest handsells as a children's bookseller in 2015 and 2016), it is now set to hit movie screens on November 17 with Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Daveed Diggs, just to name a few, all with starring roles.
For those who don't know, Wonder follows Auggie Pullman, who was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
And though we all must acknowledge the fact that neither Palacio nor Tremblay have any personal experience with craniofacial conditions — and that it is beyond important for us to listen, read, and champion the stories of people who are living with disfigurement — that doesn't mean that a story like Wonder can't be a beautiful starting point for children to acknowledge the many ways we're all different, and that those differences should never stop us from treating others the way we want to be treated. It's a simple moral, but one we need now more than ever.
If you haven't yet read Wonder (and seriously, what have you been doing?!) check out the 11 beautiful quotes from the book below. You'll definitely want to pick it up, and check out the film, when you're done.
“Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.”
“Its not a contest about whose days suck the most. The point is we all have to put up with the bad days.”
“Now that I look back, I don't know why I was so stressed about it all this time. Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing.”
“The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they've died. They're like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, they're made out of the memories people have of you.”
“Some things you just can't explain. You don't even try. You don't know where to start. All your sentences would jumble up like a giant knot if you opened your mouth. Any words you used would come out wrong.”
“If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”
"...It's not all random, if it really was all random, the universe would abandon us completely. And the universe doesn't. It takes care of its most fragile creations in ways we can't see...Maybe it is a lottery, but the universe makes it all even out in the end. The universe takes care of all its birds.”
“I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks.”
“The best way to measure how much you've grown isn't by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average—though those things are important, to be sure. It's what you've done with your time, how you've chosen to spend your days, and whom you've touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.”
“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”