cover image We’re All Wonders

We’re All Wonders

R.J. Palacio. Knopf, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5247-6649-8

Dispensing with the plot and multicharacter perspective of her much-lauded middle grade novel, Wonder (which also inspired the “Choose Kind” antibullying movement), Palacio focuses this picture book spin-off on the reflections of her hero and narrator, Auggie. “I just don’t look ordinary,” he says, and while what makes him so isn’t specified, readers can see the difference between his single-eyed, featureless face (based on Tad Carpenter’s cover illustration for the original novel) and Palacio’s drawings of other kids. The love of Auggie’s mother (“She says I’m a wonder!”), the companionship of his dog, Daisy, and his pretend play as an astronaut all help the boy momentarily escape the taunts of his peers. But he also holds out the hope, which the penultimate spread seems to affirm, that “people can change the way they see” and learn to appreciate the sentiment expressed in the title. Younger children need to hear Palacio’s important message, but the wistful nostrums and flat, decorative cartooning don’t fully do justice to her novel. Ages 4–8. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)