There are tons of great book trailers out in cyberland, and each Friday I will endeavor to bring a couple to you. Many will be new and recent books. Some trailers will preview a not-yet-released book. And others will look back a little further.
A doll that may be haunted leads three friends on a thrilling adventure in this delightfully creepy novel from the New York Times bestselling cocreator of the Spiderwick Chronicles.
Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they’ve been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her.
But they are in middle school now. Zach’s father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. Their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she’s been having dreams about the Queen—and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave.
Zach and Alice and Poppy set off on one last adventure to lay the Queen’s ghost to rest. But nothing goes according to plan, and as their adventure turns into an epic journey, creepy things begin to happen. Is the doll just a doll or something more sinister? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches?
On Friday, May 18th, RJ Palacio joined the 140 Sweet Home Middle School students on AlphaTeam and Team Possible via Skype to discuss WONDER.
It took a few attempts to connect–anxious moments indeed–but that just gave us time to raffle off some great titles that Kim Krug of Monkey See, Monkey Do brought along for the students. By the time we connected and RJ popped up on the screen, the students were pretty pumped up.
Yeah–we teachers were too.
Here is the intro we gave RJ. (We were asked to call her RJ, just in case you were wondering. Just another thing that we enjoyed about her:):Once in a while a book comes along that creates an unmistakable buzz.
We started hearing this buzz in 2011 on the book blogs we follow—like the Nerdy Book Club blog.
Wonder, and its hashtag #thewonderofwonder, started burning up the Twitterverse.When we had the opportunity to get an advance copy of this WONDER, we jumped.
There are many books that are exciting. Many books that are thrilling.Now that we’ve all read WONDER, I think we can agree that Wonder…is a life changer. It’s about being a better person. It’s about treating others with kindness.
Wonder can be summarized with two quotes from the book:
Mr. Browne’s first precept: When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind. & Be kinder than is necessary.
There are not too many times that a book really makes such an impact on us that we feel as though we need to expose as many people to it as we can. Fortunately being a teacher allows for me the forum to do so. We hope that all of you have enjoyed listening to the lives of the characters in WONDER as much as we have enjoyed reading them to you. We would like to thank R.J. Palacio for her willingness to offer her time to us and to allow us to discuss this “WONDER”ful book.
And with that, we give you—RJ PALACIO!
DAVID: It was a little overwhelming to hear RJ speak and answer the students’ questions. After reading WONDER 4 times (once on my own, then aloud to three classes), I feel like the characters are my friends. To hear from the woman who invented these friends of mine was amazing.
BRENT: Her perspectives and explanations as to the characters motives brought a whole new understanding to WONDER for me. I had these ideas about who everyone was and what they intended and to hear R.J. give additional background and insight as to why she had these “friends” act how they did was very cool.We had our students create questions about WONDER ahead of time so that we could choose a number of them to be read at our Skype session. We did this for time reasons and also to ensure that the questions asked were not repeated or things that we had already discussed.
Here are a list of the questions that ended up being chosen and asked to R.J. by our students.
QUESTION TOPICS THAT STUDENTS GENERATED INCLUDED:
Why did you choose to write from different points of view?
Why didn’t you write from Julian’s POV?
Why was Justin’s section all in lowercase?
Who chose the artwork for the book? Why did the pictures have only one eye?
Why didn’t Mr. Tushman do anything about Julian bullying Auggie if he knew about it?
How did you know so much Star Wars stuff?
Where did you get the idea for the precepts?
How did you choose the song quotes?
Have you been bullied? How did you handle it? How would you now?
What was the most emotional part of the book for you? (R.J. said that this was one of the best questions she had been asked!!)
Have your friends and family been inspired by the book?
Is there any future for WONDER in movies or television?
DAVID: I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to blink back tears at a few points in the conversation. RJ’s answers were insightful and thought provoking.
BRENT: I agree. I was blown away by her responses. She took each question and responded with a very well thought out response. It was really moving to hear her describe her characters as though they are real people. I find that many times I feel that way as a I read a story but that usually diminishes as I get to discussing the book with others. It was refreshing to hear her speak about them in that way.
DAVID: It was also rewarding to have my mom there to experience the interview with me. My whole family has read and discussed WONDER. My mom was thoroughly impressed with our students and RJ. We gushed about it for a long time afterwards.We concluded our time together with this:
Thanks to Monkey See, Monkey Do bookstore, we received discounted WONDER copies that our students were able to pre-order. We ended up selling over 40 copies.
We finished Wonder. After the applause died down, it was time to chat.
In preparation for Friday’s Skype with Mrs. Palacio (OK–she said we could call her RJ, but it feels too informal), we had an end-of-book conversation using TodaysMeet.com.
The students have improved dramatically in their digital conversations since using the site two weeks ago. (Here is the video of our first session.) I was very impressed with their comments and ideas. They even learned the trick of how to string two comments together using numbers (like “1/2” and “2/2”)–just like we do on Nerdy Book Club #titletalk and #RdgPartners Twitter chats.
Here are the students working hard at getting out their ideas.
Here are the transcripts from the three classes. If you’re wondering if TodaysMeet.com is worth trying, scroll down towards the end where the students encourage you to give it a try.
(It might be helpful to know that my questions are in ALL CAPS.