BOOK REVIEW: We’re All Wonders, a picture book with the powerful message to choose kindness

Palacio, RJ - We're All Wonders
We’re All Wonders
RJ Palacio

We’re All Wonders
, a picture book for young readers ages four to eight based on the runaway phenomenon Wonder, could not have a better message: choose kind. The narrator (Augie Pullman, unnamed in this book but recognizable from Wonder) loves to do the things all children do: ride a bike, eat ice cream, play ball, and hang out with his dog, Daisy. But, he doesn’t look like other children. Although his mother says he is unique–a wonder–other people often stare or laugh which understandably hurts his feelings.

At these times, he images putting on a space helmet and traveling to Pluto where he says hello to old friends and watches the earth from far away. He reflects on the diversity of humans on the planet, room for everyone. Although he knows he can never change his appearance, he hopes that other people will change their perspective and see him not as different, but as the wonder he is. And in choosing kindness, they’ll know that they are wonders, too. The book closes with the reminder: Look with kindness and you will always find wonder.

I’ve read the book a few times now, and each time, I find myself crying for Augie and for his beautiful message which seems to be needed now more than ever. The story packs an emotional punch and will help guardians discuss differences and empathy with young readers. The illustrations provide an added element of emotional engagement as they vividly display Augie and Daisy’s reactions to cruelness–and kindness.

We're All Wonders Collage

While there is very little to criticize about the book, I did hesitate to give it a full five star rating because, as much as I loved the message, it seemed the story was slight, even for children’s book, and could have been slightly expanded, but I am on the fence a little about this since I wouldn’t want the narrative to overwhelm young readers. On a different note, Augie might look different, but his difference is very cute: he has one big eye in an otherwise empty face. I worried that the benignity of his appearance might undercut some of the prejudice and discrimination he faced and misrepresent the hardships of people who look different. I am on the fence about this, too, because one, Augie’s difference is representational and can be applied to so many aspects of difference, and two, again, this might be the most appropriate representation for young readers. Things to think about anyway while you read this book yourself and to the young readers you know…you definitely should!

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