We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio

Those of you who loved R.J. Palacio‘s Wonder are in for a treat with her latest children’s picture book We’re All Wonders, published by Alfred A. Knopf and out later this month. I so wish I was teaching children’s literature this semester so that I could share this book with my students!

We’re All Wonders is a beautifully illustrated children’s picture book about acceptance. It is about how Auggie feels when others make fun of him. It’s about how he escapes to the world of space with his dog Daisy to feel normal. And, ultimately, it’s about a little boy who teaches us the lesson about that which he is most deserving: acceptance.

I LOVE this book for several reasons:

(1) Auggie narrates the story, giving him agency and authority. I’m working on a piece about agency in YA fictional illness narratives, but this book would fit perfectly in another piece about children’s fictional illness narratives. It is good for children to see that having a difference does not mean one cannot explore and advocate for oneself. I really like that Palacio lets Auggie talk instead of talking about him.

(2) I really love the vibrant illustrations. Palacio not only wrote the text but also illustrated it, which is so very cool. I love the space scenes. The layout in which Auggie and Daisy are looking back at Earth sends a powerful message.

(3) Auggie’s perspective about humanity is inspiring. Sometimes it’s hard to muddle through the divisiveness in today’s world and see humanity’s potential. And yet Auggie, who might even have a reason to feel discouraged about what humans are capable of, only encourages. I’m not the best flyer in the world (just ask my husband), but the one part I do love about flying is when the plane is coming out of the clouds to land and all the houses look so perfect, and the roads look so organized. And you think how can there be so much awfulness down there when from the sky things look so beautiful. We should all be inspired by Auggie’s hopefulness.

Here are some teaching ideas for the K-12 classroom:

(1) It’s obvious to use We’re All Wonders in the middle or high school classroom to introduce the book Wonder. A feature film is also coming out, so having students make comparisons and contrasts across these texts is a good idea.

(2) I also think We’re All Wonders offers a cool example of what middle and high school students can do with their books: adapt them into children’s picture books. I was just talking with my children’s literature TAs today about how even summarizing a text can be difficult for some students, and I love how this book could serve as an example of how to adapt a longer text for a different audience.

(3) I love thinking about cover design. This article announces the cover for We’re All Wonders. I love the idea of having students redesign a cover for this book.

(4) We’re All Wonders makes the point that we all have wonders. In a rapport-building exercise at the beginning of the year or semester, teachers could have students write them a letter in which they describe what their wonder is. This activity might go a long way in terms of building relationships and classroom communities.

Here are some other reviews for We’re All Wonders:

Kirkus Review

Picture Books Blogger

Amazon

goodreads

Rating: img-thingimg-thingimg-thingimg-thing

Let me know what you think of We’re All Wonders in the comments below!

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