In R. J. Palacio’s bestselling collection of stories Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian’s grandmother, Grandmère. Here, Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with Grandmère’s heartrending story: how she, a young Jewish girl, was hidden by a family in a Nazi-occupied French village during World War II; how the boy she and her classmates once shunned became her savior and best friend.
Sara’s harrowing experience movingly demonstrates the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives. As Grandmère tells Julian, “It always takes courage to be kind, but in those days, such kindness could cost you everything.” With poignant symbolism and gorgeous artwork that brings Sara’s story out of the past and cements it firmly in this moment in history, White Bird is sure to captivate anyone who was moved by the book Wonder or the blockbuster movie adaptation and its message.
I LOVE that this book was written as a Graphic Novel. This format makes it accessible to so many more young readers. This part of history seems to truly interest kids. The author starts with a present day child who is FaceTiming his grandma about a project he has to do for class. Within the first few turns of the pages, kids are hooked. What they don’t realize is the journey they will embark on as Sara tells the story of her past and it will forever become a part of readers lives. Knowing that people endured the horrific conditions during this war by Nazi soldiers seems like a made up horror story. War is ugly. It doesn’t have happy endings and the victims need to be able to tell their stories. They deserve for their stories to be read.
As Sara and Julien’s story continues, readers will quickly learn to love them. They are courageous and brave. They are resilient and honorable. Their stories are important and relevant and need to be told. I mostly loved how the story ended and illustrated how history repeats itself if we allow it.
I am so glad I picked up this book and I look forward to sharing it with my students for years to come.
R. J. Palacio
R. J. Palacio was born and raised in New York City. She attended the High School of Art and Design and the Parsons School of Design, where she majored in illustration with the hopes of someday following in the footsteps of her favorite childhood author-illustrators, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Maurice Sendak, and the D’Aulaires. She was a graphic designer and art director for many years before writing Wonder. We’re All Wonders, which is based conceptually on the themes of her novel, represents the fulfillment of her dream to write and illustrate her own picture book. R.J. is also the author of Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories and 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is surrounded by magical water towers, with her husband, their two sons, and their two dogs, Bear and Beau. Learn more about her at rjpalacio.com or on Twitter at @RJPalacio.