Sundays are for Reading - We're All Wonders by R. J. Palacio
A heartwarming picture book read, We’re All Wonders explores themes of difference, kindness, and empathy. Written and illustrated by R. J. Palacio, the author of bestselling book Wonder which kicked off the Choose Kind anti-bullying movement, We’re All Wonders boils the message of Wonder down to its fundamental parts.
We’re All Wonders is written from main character Auggie’s point of view. Almost every page contains no more than one line of narration, detailing how others single Auggie out for looking different. The relatively subdued narrative style contrasts against full, wide illustrations that almost explode off the page in colour and detail. The foremost figure in nearly all illustrated spreads in the book, Auggie is centred in the middle of bright and energetic art scapes that get across his emotions and strength of imagination.
While this iteration of the Wonder phenomenon is constrained by page count and the age range that it’s aimed at, We’re All Wonders remains true to the message and concepts of the original novel without directly retreading or attempting to cram too much of the original story into Auggie’s narration. Instead, some of the complexity of the message is conveyed through illustration.
Where Auggie is originally born with a facial deformity, here he is stylistically rendered with a single blue eye where all other human characters sport 2 eyes. Thick black lines of photo frames and panel borders depict how other characters are closed off from Auggie, even as he leaps into outer space to explore colourful worlds free of those borders.
The narrative style and emotive illustrations invites readers space to imagine themselves in Auggie’s shoes. It offers a window to the experience of others and in particular how being ostracised can hurt, and shows readers we can all work together.
For parents looking to introduce the message of Wonder to younger readers who might find the original too complex for now, We’re All Wonders stands on its own two feet as a strong book in its own right. An excellent early entry to introduce concepts of empathy and kindness into a child’s reading diet, We’re All Wonders is a great for readers ages 3 and up.
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