Written by R.J. Palacio
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Auggie is not normal. At least his appearance isn’t. But his emotions and his intelligence are. Due to a genetic anomaly, August Pullman is born with no jaw, no ears as we know them, and misplaced facial features. His appearance, coupled with multiple surgeries, means that he’s home schooled until he’s ready for fifth grade. He’s gotten very good at noticing the reaction to his unusual appearance and moving on, but it’s not always easy. When his parents get him into a private middle school, he’s faced with a whole new set of challenges. The author has mastered the art of showing the many sides of an issue. Although Auggie is the main focus, we get to hear how his sister and some of the other kids view the situation. There are no huge surprises in the plot, but what is surprising is the depth of the characters and the abilities they discover. Even the principal discovers his own compassion, with tears on his face at one point.
Fourth graders and up will love the humor and identify with the bullying that happens. Before Auggie even gets to the school, his parents have him laughing about the principal, Mr. Tuchman’s name by saying their professor, Miss Butt. Perfect fourth grade humor. Kids will learn a little about genetics and facial deformity while enhancing their literacy skills. Among other awards, this debut novel was named an Amazon Best Books of the Month for Kids, 2012.
- Title: Wonder
- Author: R.J. Palacio
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf/Random House, 2012
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 316 pages
- Genre: Contemporary fiction, friendship, physical challenges
- ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0
- Lexile: 790L
Written by Sharon M. Draper
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Melody is incredibly smart, but no one knows it. She’s locked inside her brilliant mind because she has cerebral palsy. She can’t talk or walk. She attends special education classes at school. Her mother and her neighbor always knew there was more going on in there than met the eye. Eventually, she finds a teacher who tries to help her and an aide who knows what she needs. They find an electronic device that allows Melody to show what has been going on in her head for the past eleven years. One of the first statements she programs into her machine is, “We all have disabilities. What’s yours?” She reserves this for particularly confrontational people. She enters an academic competition and shines, in spite of all the missteps and issues surrounding it.
Draper does an incredible job of getting inside Melody’s mind. People, even the people who know her well, often speak over Melody like she isn’t even there. Melody always points this out to the reader. Thus, the author shows how important it is to treat everyone with the same consideration and respect the reader would expect. Life is never easy for Melody, but she able to do what she can do.
This is an excellent resource to teach fourth grade readers about the spectrum of abilities and disabilities without being preachy. Melody loves words, so this is a great resource for increasing comprehension and literacy skills.
The author’s website, http://www.sharondraper.com offers an excellent study guide, complete with reading activities.
- TITLE: Out of My Mind
- AUTHOR: Sharon M. Draper
- PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010
- REVIEWER: Sue Poduska
- ISBN: 978-1-4169-7170-2
- FORMAT: Hard cover, 295 pages
- GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Physical disability