RJ Palacio's new book Wonder is a middle-grades novel about August ("Auggie"), a young boy born with severe facial abnormalities who, at the age of 10, leaves the safety of his parents' homeschooling and begins attending a New York private school. August has cleft palate, no cheekbones, asymmetrical eyes, and other deformities that are caused by a rare genetic disorder; he has spent his life going in and out of surgery, beating the odds and surviving. He is smart and engaging, but also sheltered, immature, and terribly frightened of human contact.
Wonder's story unfolds through a series of point-of-view jumps, beginning in Auggie's head, then shifting to his sister, his friends, his sister's friends, and then back to him. It is through this device that Palacio manages to produce a story of intense action and intense introspection, a series of interiorized monologues that show the frailties and foibles behind each of Auggie's trials and hurts. Thus, Wonder becomes more than a story about a poor disabled child who overcomes bullies to find acceptance in school -- instead, it's a beautifully told lesson in empathy that requires that the reader find sympathy for each of the principle actors in the story.
Palacio is a wonderful storyteller and her characters are bright, well-rounded and intensely likable. Wonder is a beautiful book that is full of sorrow and triumph, emotional without being manipulative -- highly recommended.
Every year around this time, our friends at Sparrow Lockpicks (previously) come out with a incredibly clever, giftable addition to your locksport arsenal; I always buy a few of these for Christmas gifts (often for younger people on my list) and they're universally well received.
20 years ago, Illinois was rocked by a scandal after the widespread practice of locking schoolchildren, especially those with disabilities or special needs, in small, confining boxes was revealed. The teachers who imprisoned these children argued that they did so out of the interests of safety -- that of the imprisoned students, of the other […]
The creator of the CodeParade video channel made an interactive pushbutton busyboard for his toddler. He bought a bunch of knobs and switches, wired them to an Arduino, LEDs and beepers, and put them in a craft box. It has a simple mode, in which pushing a button triggers a sound or light, and an […]
Things break, and even in this disposable world, there’s a need to fix them. Up until recently, that’s been the crusty bottle of glue in your junk drawer, which is just as liable to coat your fingers as the thing you actually want to repair. Looks like there’s finally a Star Trek-level solution on the […]
Paying for things is all too easy online these days, and that’s why managing your money has gotten so hard. We’ve all done it: You sign up for a streaming subscription or gym membership, blow past the free trial date, and it becomes a part of your monthly expenses. Some of us juggle so many […]
We all know those gifts we get “for the kids,” the ones that parents are secretly more excited to open. Drones are a perfect example, but there’s a model out there that really doubles down on that appeal. Introducing the Space Fighter Building Block Drones, a series of space fighter drones that are a blast […]