Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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Genre: Realistic fiction

A 2013 ALA Notable Children’s Book (Middle Readers)

I was excited to read this book as it has gotten so much praise and good buzz, and I had it highly recommended by several trusted sources (thanks Michaela and Christina!) It did not disappoint.

Wonder is the story of Augustus, a fifth grader who enters school for the first time. Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity and has previously been home schooled due to ongoing medical issues. The story is told from several different points of view as Auggie completes his first year of school and covers the challenges and triumphs he encounters. Auggie’s story is one of friendship, loyalty, bullying, honesty, compassion, kindness, and courage in so many forms. I cried at the beginning, middle and end. I highly recommend it, for both adults and students – it would probably appeal most to students in grades 5-8. It is a bit long so would be best suited to strong readers in grades 5 and 6. This is also the first book I’ve reviewed that I believe would make an excellent addition to your curriculum as a major novel. It abounds with teachable moments and themes. It was one of the first books I reviewed that made me want to seek out more information about the author’s inspiration. Continue reading »

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The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George

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Genre: Mystery/Supernatural

A 2013 Edgar Award NomineeĀ 

The Edge of Nowhere is the first YA title from George, who is best known for her mystery novels featuring Inspector Lynley, which are now a BBC series. It centers around Hannah Armstrong, who immediately reinvents herself as Becca King in order to escape a murderous stepfather. The main plot point hear is that Becca can hear others’ thoughts – a trait she must keep hidden both to avoid detection from her stepfather and keep from bringing other conflicts upon herself. This becomes increasingly difficult as she is separated from her mother and left to fend for herself on Whidbey Island in the state of Washington. She finds help from a kind dog owner, a grandmotherly recovering alcoholic and the town delinquent, but finds herself once again at the center of the drama when a boy she has befriended is found wounded in the woods. Continue reading »

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