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R.J. Palacio Visits Bank Street

January 2, 2013

The auditorium was packed with students age 9-14, teachers, and other members of the Bank Street community, all eager to hear R.J. Palacio speak.  Everyone had read all or part of Wonder, Palacio’s debut novel.

Children’s Librarian Allie Bruce read quotes from Wonder-related student work, including a chapter in which the dog (Bear) meets Auggie for the first time.  Palacio then spoke for 30 minutes about the process of writing and publishing Wonder, including the full story of the incident that began it all.  A natural storyteller, Palacio told how she and her sons (then 3 and 8) encountered a young girl with a severely deformed face at an ice cream parlor.  Desperate to prevent her children from staring, crying, or otherwise inadvertently hurting the girl’s feelings, Palacio frantically rushed her kids away, creating a commotion (a version of this story appears in Wonder).  Soon after, with the incident preying on her mind, Palacio began to write Wonder.

After taking questions that ranged from why Palacio chose not to write a section from Julian’s perspective (she “didn’t want to give a bully a pulpit”) to how her own kids feel about Wonder (they like it, but it’s a little close to home), Palacio visited the third grade to talk about her work as an editor in addition to an author.

The kids were remarkably engaged, focused, and eager to ask questions.  A good time was had by all!

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