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Wonder starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson & Jacob Tremblay comes to the screen on April 4th

The book, Wonder, caused quite a stir when it came out in 2011. R.J. Palacio's debut novel about a boy with a severe facial deformity is ostensibly a childrens’s book but it’s one of those stories with its’ message of kindness that leaves us old folks crying too. 

The movie stars Jacob Tremblay as Auggie—he is the brilliant young actor who played the imprisoned boy in Room— with Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as his loving parents. The cast includes Mandy Patinkin as the principal of the middle school Auggie attends. Sheesh. As if middle school isn’t tough enough on kids. Author turned director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) helms from a script by Steven Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty). Wonder is set to debut on screens in the USA and the UK on April 4th. 

The logline

A young boy born with a facial deformity is destined to fit in at a new school, and to make everyone understand he's just another ordinary kid, and that beauty isn't skin deep.

About the book

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

In the author’s own words

Palacio shared his reason for writing the book on his website. Here’s hoping the film lives up to Palacio’s good intentions.

About five years ago I took my son's for ice cream, and while my older son went inside to buy us our milk shakes, my younger son and I waited on the bench outside. My younger son was only about 3 years old at the time, and he was in his stroller facing me while I sat on the bench. At a certain point I realized that sitting right next to me was a little girl with a severe craniofacial difference, her friend (or sister), and her mother. When my younger son looked up and saw her, he reacted exactly the way you might think a three-year old would react when seeing something that scared him: he started to cry—pretty loudly, too. I hurriedly tried to push him away in the stroller, not for his sake but to avoid hurting the girl's feelings, and in my haste I caused my older son to spill the shakes, and, well, it was quite a scene—the opposite of what I had hoped for. But as I pushed my younger son’s stroller away I heard the little girls’ mom say, in as sweet and calm a voice as you can imagine: “Okay, guys, I think it’s time to go.” And that just got to me. 
    For the rest of the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about how that scene had played out. It occurred to me that they probably went through something like that dozens of times a day. Hundreds of times. What would that be like? What could I be teaching my children so they could understand how to respond better next time? Is “don’t stare” even the right thing to teach, or is there something deeper? All this stuff was flying through my head, and I realized that I was disappointed in myself because I had missed a good teaching moment for my kids. What I should have done, instead of trying to get my kids away and avoid the situation, was engage the girl and her mother in conversation. If my son cried, so be it: kids cry. But I should have set a better example for him, and shown him there was nothing to fear. Instead I panicked. I simply didn't have the wherewithall to know what to do in that situation.  
    Coincidentally, the song Wonder by Natalie Merchant came on the radio that night, as I was thinking about the ice cream incident, and something about the words to the song just got to me. I started writing Wonder that very night. 

If that bit didn’t leave you crying, I’m guessing the movie will leave you cold too. Since writing Wonder, Palacio has written several more Wonder-themed books, one of which Auggie & Me is being made into a movie too. 

I’ll be adding Wonder to this year’s list of 

No trailer yet, but here’s the book promo