A kid without facial symmetry——II

 

The amazing young boy in Palacio’s 2012 youth novel, Wonder, is named Auggie, and he’s a hit across America in schools where books about tolerance and the impact of bullying are assigned and discussed. Recognizing this, the author and Random House just released a novella, but 88 pages, entitled The Julian Chapter: a Story. It rectifies a concern many readers had that Wonder didn’t have a chapter from the main antagonist’s point of view. They also released a companion volume to Wonder in 2014: 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s of Precepts.*

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Craniofacial anomalies—lack of facial symmetry.

As noted in my previous blog, Auggie’s afflicted by the disorder known as “mandibulofacial dysotosis. More easily remembered as Treacher-Collins syndrome, it’s a condition that’s passed down through families (hereditary) that leads to problems with the structure of the face. 

       

 Here’s NPR’s summary of their interview with Palacio about how a chance encounter with a Treacher-Collins child got things rolling:

“Palacio tells NPR’s Michele Norris that the book was inspired by a real-life encounter with her own kids six years ago. They were at an ice cream store and sat next to a little girl with a severe facial deformity. Palacio’s 3-year-old son cried in fear, so the author grabbed her kids and fled. She was trying to protect the girl but also avoid her own discomfort.’I was really angry at myself afterwards for the way I had responded,’ she admits. ‘What I should have done is simply turned to the little girl and started up a conversation and shown my kids that there was nothing to be afraid of. But instead what I ended up doing was leaving the scene so quickly that I missed that opportunity to turn the situation into a great teaching moment for my kids. And that got me thinking a lot about what it must be like to … have to face a world every day that doesn’t know how to face you back.’

Palacio started writing the book that night.”

Reactions to a book about a kid without facial symmetry.

Here are excerpts from the overwhelmingly positive Amazon reviews

My son is like Auggie and this book is incredible.

Sarah Jones

“My 5th grader has craniofacial anomalies and I feel that this book could not have been better written. RJ Palacio caught Auggie’s voice so well and captured his challenges and strengths so beautifully that I still can’t believe that she doesn’t have a child who is living this life.”

Oh -li-Via

TruTru 

“I am reading this out loud to my 9 year old whose taste in reading matter is beyond her reading ability. I also grew up with a brother with a disability. I disagree with the reviewer who said it detracted from the story that there were many narrators. In particular I found when I got to Via’s chapters, and her description of the ambiguity of her feelings, how she sometimes felt overlooked, and the relief of going away to be with her grandma, I had a hard time keeping reading, and was choking back the tears. 

 I wanted to give it a better rating…but I couldn’t. 

thehydrogenpoptart

“Here, I’ll explain why….I believe author Palacio asked fans of Wonder to submit precepts/principles to her after the book took off, and used the winning entries in 365 Days of Wonder. The blurb for the book states, “In the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Wonder, readers were introduced to memorable English teacher Mr. Browne and his love of precepts. Simply put, precepts are principles to live by, and Mr. Browne has compiled 365 of them—one for each day of the year—drawn from popular songs to children’s books to inscriptions on Egyptian tombstones to fortune cookies. His selections celebrate kindness, hopefulness, the goodness of human beings, the strength of people’s hearts, and the power of people’s wills.”