Ever wonder how it feels to watch the movie of a book you just finished reading? The movie and book are usually very different because one uses words and the other visuals to tell the same powerful story.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio is no exception. It is a book that every grammar school student between 4th-6th grade needs to read to be more sensitive of how differences in appearance can cause hate, bullying and fear. While the plot, the characters and the lessons are similar in the book and movie, there are differences that I noticed that changed my experiences with this thought-provoking book.
In the book, Auggie, the main character is a disfigured child trying to have a normal life in school while being bullied by some and building good relationships with others in his class. The book and movie are both told from the perspective of different characters, something I have never before encountered. The movie, however left out Summer’s point of view, and she was an important friend of Auggie’s who played a very significant role in the story and in Auggie’s life.
A factual error that did not translate well in the movie version was the development of the friendship with Summer. Summer, in the book, sits with Auggie on the first day of school while in the movie, she does not form a relationship with him until several days later. The time line is not quite right. The movie may need extra time to build these relationships, whereas in the book, the author is able to build the characters’ personalities more easily.
I found myself crying several times while reading the book. The death of Auggie’s dog was a big loss for Auggie, who has a deformity that keeps people from getting to know him. In the beginning of the book, he does not have friends and the dog is all he has. The emotions I felt were very strong because the author uses vivid descriptions to explain how Auggie feels. Auggie’s feelings are a big part of the written version of Wonder. The movie relies on dialogue to show us Augie’s emotions and it is not as powerful or memorable.
The book, Wonder, is something every child should read to make one more aware, sensitive and understanding of the differences that exist in us and how our own choices can make a big difference in someone’s life. The movie takes Auggie’s disfigurement and shows it to us. I think seeing it is very different from reading about it. Watching Auggie, his face, his pain, and his sadness makes the book real. It makes Auggie real. It makes all his friends real. It makes the ugliness of the bully, Julian, real. Watching the movie after reading this book made the author’s message even more powerful.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!