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Alethea Allarey

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Choose Kind

Written by R.J. Palacio

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2012

2014-2015 Winner - Intermediate


Wonder celebrates the power of kindness and the beauty of the human spirit. Even though his face makes others do “that look-away thing,” ten-year old Auggie feels ordinary inside. Like other kids, he loves playing with his Xbox, eating ice cream, and attending birthday parties. He’s funny, kind, and smart. But he has one extraordinary face. Auggie has been homeschooled by his mom because of all his facial surgeries (27 in all!); however, at the start of fifth grade, his parents convince Auggie that he is ready to begin fifth grade at Beecher Prep. Wonder follows Auggie through his eventful first year of middle school, complete with scornful bullies, surprising Halloween costumes, competitive friendship wars, a frightening overnight school field trip, and some strong new friendships. 

Auggie’s story is told from a variety of perspectives. RJ Palacio successfully brings us into the mind and feelings of not only Auggie, but also his protective older sister Via, his sister’s sensitive boyfriend Justin, his first friends Summer and Jack, and Via’s childhood friend Miranda. With each shifting narrator, the reader gains a deeper understanding of Auggie and his family and friends. It is a remarkable, but still believable, group of people that surrounds Auggie. From his supportive parents, who still possess humor and perspective, to his inspiring English teacher, RJ Palacio shows how each of us—through a smile or another simple act of encouragementcan make the life of someone else so much better. 

Meet the Author

Raquel Jaramillo, RJ Palacio, has spent over 20 years in book publishing, as an art director, director of children’s books, and editor, designing book jackets for hundreds of authors (including Louise Ehrdrich, Colum McCann, and Salman Rushdie to name a few) as well as working side by side with editors, marketing executives, publicists, proofreaders, agents, and production managers. Today, in addition to being an author, she is an editor-at-large for Workman Publishing Company. Her son’s tears and her hurried departure following a chance encounter with an extraordinary child with facial deformities in front of an ice cream store (combined with listening to Natalie Merchant’s song "Wonder" on the radio that day) prompted her to begin writing Wonder. She strongly believed that she should have handled the chance encounter differently, and Auggie’s story is the result of her internal re-evaluation of her behavior. She wrote Wonder under the pseudonym RJ Palacio because she did not want to use any of her publishing connections to get her first novel published. Ms. Jaramillo loves going to movies, playing the guitar, and hanging out with her family watching Modern Family. She currently lives in New York City with her husband, two sons, and two dogs.

R.J. Palacio accepts her 2015 California Young Reader Medal (Intermediate) for WONDER.


  • Have you ever met someone with a deformity? How did you respond? Do you think your response made the other person comfortable? Were you comfortable with your response?
  • Have you ever been bullied because of your appearance? Did you seek help? From whom? Have you ever stopped someone from being bullied?  What did you do? What could you have done differently?
  • What does it mean to be a kind person? Are you kind? Is kindness valued in your family, at your school, and by your friends? How could you be more kind? How could you encourage a culture of kindness in your class or your school?


Chapter Books Dealing with Bullying
Amato, Mary. Invisible Lines. Edgemont USA, 2009.
Buyea, Rob. Because of Mr. Terupt. Yearling, 2010.
Clements, Andrew. Jake Drake, Bully Buster. Thorndike Press, 2002.
Draper, Sharon. Out of My Mind. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010.
Key, Watt. Alabama Moon. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2006.
La Fleur, Suzanne. Eight Keys. Wendy Lamb Books, 2011.
Lee, Jenny. Elvis and the Underdogs. Balzer + Bray, 2013.
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Roxie and the Hooligans. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006.
Ryan, Pam Munoz. The Dreamer. Scholastic Press, 2010.
Spinelli, Jerry. Jake and Lily. Balzer + Bray, 2012.
Stead, Rebecca. Liar and Spy. Wendy Lamb Books, 2012.
Van Draanen, Wendelin. Shredderman: Secret Identity. Random House, 2004.
Wilhelm, Doug. The Revealers. Straus and Giroux, 2003.

Picture Books on Bullying
Javaherbin, Mina. Goal! Candlewick Press, 2010.
Lester, Helen. Hooway for Wodney Wat. Houghton Mifflin, Co., 1999.
Lovell, Patty. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001.
Ludwig, Trudy. Confessions of a Former Bully. Tricycle Press, 2010.
Ludwig, Trudy. My Secret Bully. Riverwood Books, 2003.
O’Neill, Alexis. The Recess Queen. Scholastic Press, 2002.
Pham, Leyen. Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2009.
Staake, Bob. Bluebird. Schwartz & Wade, 2013.
Utoshi, Kathryn. One. KO Kids Books, 2008.
Wells, Rosemary. Benjamin and Tulip. Dial Press, 1973.

For more information, please check the 2014-2015 Resource Guide - Intermediate.