Teenage Girl said, ‘It’s very good but it’s a book for ten-year-olds’. She was less than impressed by her class reading list this year.
It is the assigned book for Middle Girl’s class next year so I won’t ask her to read it yet. Middle Girl is ten so, hopefully, her teacher is spot on.
Given all the rave reviews, I decided to read it for myself. I thought it lived up to its title. I was laughing out loud at page 5 and weeping snotty tears by page 222.
August Pullman thinks that he is just an ordinary boy. However, a small change to a single gene has made his face extraordinary. Not only that, but a series of surgeries has limited his facial expression. August is left with nothing to put between himself and the world but courage and good humour.
August tells us the story of his first year attending school (fifth grade). Some kids are kind to August because they have been asked to be kind. Some kids don’t know how to be kind and some just don’t want to be kind.
There are interjections from the other children telling us about their relationship with August. I would have preferred a single voice but I can see how this works really well in a children’s book. Every reader should find someone to identify with here.
‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view….until you climb inside his skin and walk around in it’ Harper Lee. To Kill A Mockingbird.
There is evidence that reading the right books teaches children empathy. (There is a nice article here.) It makes absolute sense. To Kill A Mockingbird tells us that people usually are nice. Wonder shows us how you can learn to be nice.
I can see why my teenagers thought this was a book for younger children. There isn’t a whole lot of suspense. At no point was I concerned that it wasn’t going to turn out alright in the end. There is no angst (teenagers enjoy angst).
This is a funny, feel-good, heart-warming book. You will read the last page with a huge, silly grin plastered all over your ordinary face. Wonder deserves a standing ovation.
This is a book that everybody should read, ideally at the age of ten. If you are older than ten, read it as soon as possible.