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These companion stories to Wonder are an extra peek at Auggie before he started at Beecher Prep and during his first year there. Readers get to see him through the eyes of Julian, the bully; Christopher, Auggie’s oldest friend; and Charlotte, Auggie’s new friend at school. Together, these three stories are a treasure for readers who aren't quite ready to leave Auggie behind after they finish Wonder, or who simply want to read more tales about the trials and triumphs of friendship.
'Sometimes friendships are hard, and friendship with Auggie Pullman is a special challenge. He is different. He looks different, and that’s not easy in middle school. He has a “severe craniofacial difference,” facial features that, even after many surgeries over the years, look like “the drippings on the side of a candle.” Now, Palacio zeros in on three characters: Julian, the bully; Auggie’s oldest friend, Christopher; and Charlotte, the girl who is nice to Auggie but never especially friendly. Auggie is the common thread in their stories, but he’s behind the scenes here, peripheral to their first-person narratives. Each character relates a story that includes an epiphany about friendship, family, and life. Auggie is the catalyst for transformations in their lives, but readers will see sides of characters Auggie never would have known. Originally published as short e-books, the stories are explorations of kindness, each character demonstrating how it takes bravery to be kind, how, in the tricky business of navigating new situations, 'it’s always better to err on the side of kindness.' In the companion novel to Wonder, (2012) three students at Beecher Prep middle school tell stories that connect with Auggie Pullman’s dramatic arrival into their worlds."
To prime fans of Wonder (2012) for the upcoming 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts (2014), Palacio has dropped this bite-size, but still tear-tugging, Kindle Single. Readers know Julian as the bully who gave the facially deformed Auggie a hard time, but this story shines light on Julian so that his blacks and whites become shades of gray. Julian, who delivers his story in exclamation point–filled prose, is revealed to be an emotional kid prone to nightmares, and Palacio allows that some kids would be flat-out scared by Auggie’s looks. Julian’s shock upon first meeting Auggie is almost inexpressible: “Dude! Dude! Dude! Dude! Dude! Dude! Dude! Dude!” Given Julian’s personality, the notes he writes Auggie feel less relentlessly cruel and more the acts of a kid who doesn’t think things through; Julian is shocked to hear himself described as a bully. It’s his parents who guide the rest of his story, taking up arms against the school with Julian as a mere bystander, and this, more than anything, will earn readers’ sympathy. Palacio hits her “choose kind” message hard enough to border on didacticism and the plot has a brick-by-brick linearity, but she remains a wonderfully readable and expressive author. This feels as if it is excised straight from Wonder, making it a perfect addition.
"Palacio revisits Julian, the most disliked character from her debut novel, Wonder (Knopf, 2012). When Auggie Pullman first entered Beecher Prep, Julian was one of the students chosen to help him navigate the new school. Instead, Julian went out of his way to make life miserable for Auggie. But why? Was he just a bully or was there something else going on? And did he ever feel bad about his actions? Although it starts off predictably enough, Julian's story is full of surprises that emphasize the overall theme of compassion, not only for the victim, but also for the bully. Children will learn an important lesson about walking in another's footsteps when they discover what really motivates Julian's actions."
—School Library Journal
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