Pluto: A Wonder Story

If you work with kids at all–or are a kid yourself–and you haven’t already read both Wonder and The Julian Chapter by R.J. Palacio, do yourself a favor and remedy that immediately. (Also, there may be a few spoilers ahead, and you really need to at least read Wonder before reading the rest of this post.)

Wonder introduces readers to the remarkable Auggie Pullman, “an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face,” as he faces the ups and downs of middle school. The Julian Chapter, an ebook novella that came out a while back, gives readers a look at this story from a bully’s perspective. Julian, one of Auggie’s harshest critics, provides us with a look at what may drive someone to be a bully…and what may ultimately redeem him.

Now, we have another story to add to what I like to think of as the Auggie Chronicles. In Pluto, we meet Christopher, Auggie’s oldest friend. Christopher has been friends with Auggie from the very beginning, before he even realized that Auggie didn’t quite look like other kids. An on this particularly bad day, Christopher reflects on his friendship with Auggie and what it means to really be there for someone…

It started off like any other day. Christopher didn’t want to get out of bed and go to school, but his mom insisted. But something was a little different today. Christopher’s mom had bad news. His friends’s dog, Daisy, passed away last night. This news hits Chris pretty hard, and it makes him think about all the fun he and his friend, Auggie Pullman, had with Daisy…and with each other.

As the day goes on–and gets worse for Chris–he continues to think about Auggie, his own issues, and just how hard it is to be a friend sometimes. He remembers both the good times (watching Star Wars, planning expeditions to Pluto, throwing Nerf darts at Auggie’s sister, Via) and the not-so-good times (visiting Auggie in the hospital, other friends not wanting to play with Auggie). It’s not always easy being Auggie’s friend, and, since Chris’s family moved away, it hasn’t helped matters. The two friends have sort of drifted apart.

Today, though, a series of events may just bring the two boys back together. With everything that’s happened today–starting with the news of Daisy’s death and ending with a car accident, a band breakup, and really confusing math problems–Chris might just need Auggie more than he ever realized.

Though distance, time, and experiences may separate some friends for a while, true friends will find their way back to each other. Join Chris as he realizes just how important his friendship with Auggie is (even if it can be tough sometimes) and how that friendship can make his current troubles a little easier to handle.


I know Pluto is going to be a big hit with my students. My 3rd-5th graders are fairly obsessed with all things Wonder, and I’m sure this story will be no different. My hope is that they’ll learn a lesson with this story, as with Wonder and The Julian Chapter.

In Pluto, I think the big lesson is that real friendships take hard work, but it’s worth it. True friends will always be there for you, no matter what. That was a lesson that Chris needed to learn, and I think his circumstances in this story drove things home for him.

There was quite a bit going on in this short story that I didn’t begin to touch on, and that was intentional. You need to read this story for yourself and see how the little tidbits fit with Wonder and what we know of Auggie, both before and after his time at Beecher Prep. It’s interesting to compare the friendship between Chris and Auggie with those Auggie later made at school.

On May 12th, we’ll get the chance to read a story from one of Auggie’s new friends. Shingaling will show us a bit of Auggie’s first year and take us into his second year at Beecher Prep, and we’ll see this story through the eyes of Charlotte. (You may recall that she was one of Auggie’s “welcome buddies.”) I look forward to reading this story and seeing just how it adds to the “wonder of Wonder.”

For more information on Pluto and all things Wonder, I urge you to check out author R.J. Palacio’s website.

Happy reading!


Thank goodness for NetGalley! I’ve only been a member for a short while, but this awesome service has allowed me to be the first to read some pretty awesome books, including the first two books in C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls After Dark series, Reborn and Eternal. Well, just two days ago, I was invited by NetGalley to read Unbreakable, a Shadow Falls After Dark eBook novella, which will be released to the masses on September 30th. (That was a pretty good surprise on an otherwise craptastic Monday.) Of course, I dropped everything and commenced with the reading.

If you’re at all familiar with the first two Shadow Falls After Dark books (or at least the first since Eternal doesn’t come out until October 28th), you already know a little about the character of Chase Tallman. He’s the oddly compelling vamp who turns Della’s world topsy-turvy. But what do we really know about Chase? How did he become a vampire? What led him to Della?

Unbreakable answers a few questions about Chase, but several more are left unanswered. Readers learn a bit about his relationships with his family and his loyal dog, Baxter. We also see Chase’s first brush with love and how that eventually led him to Della.

While we did see the tragic circumstances that led to Chase becoming a vampire, I do wish that part of the story had been a little more fleshed out. I wanted to see how he dealt with the aftermath. Also, there was really no mention of the whole “rebirth” thing, and I would have liked to see more of Chase’s early days as a vamp. Maybe these things will get more attention in the next full-length novel (which I think should be out next summer).

If you’d like to learn more about Unbreakable and C.C. Hunter’s other amazing books, be sure to check out the author’s website here.

The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story

A couple of years ago, I fell in love with Wonder, a brilliant, beautiful novel by R.J. Palacio. (I’m not alone in this. If you haven’t read this book, you should. Immediately. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are. You need to read this book.)

In Wonder, we meet Auggie Pullman, “an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.” He, along with a few other characters, tells us all about Auggie’s first year attending public school. We learn of his struggles with fitting in, being accepted, and dealing with bullies.  One of those bullies is a boy named Julian.

We didn’t hear Julian’s side of things in Wonder, but now it’s his turn to tell his side of the story.

From the very beginning, Julian knows that he and Auggie are not going to be friends. Julian wants nothing to do with the strange-looking new kid who seems to have the power to jump-start Julian’s night terrors. And Julian doesn’t get what is so special about Auggie anyway. So what if his face is different? Does that mean that everyone has to bend over backwards to be nice to him?

Julian makes his feelings about Auggie widely known. He starts the game pretending that Auggie has the plague, he makes faces behind Auggie’s back, and he writes horrible notes and puts them in the boy’s locker. But nobody understands just how difficult it is for Julian to be around Auggie. No one except Julian’s mom.

When Julian’s mom gets a look at Auggie, she seems to make it her mission to get him out of the school. (Julian is actually kind of embarrassed by this. His mom often doesn’t know when to stop.) And as things snowball out of control, Julian wonders just what his place is at school. Now that everyone seems to love Auggie, what does that mean for Julian?

As Julian comes face-to-face with his own actions and their consequences, he has to examine just what’s behind his hatred for Julian. And when his grandmother tells him a very personal story from her past, Julian may come to understand more about himself and his treatment of Auggie.

Is there hope that Julian can find some kind of redemption? Will he make peace with Auggie? Is he really the bad kid people seem to think he is, or can this bully turn things around? Read Julian’s story to find out in The Julian Chapter.


I didn’t think it was possible to love Wonder more than I already did, but The Julian Chapter changed my mind. This story shone a spotlight on a perspective that is often not seen. How does the bully of the story feel? Even though I still thought Julian was horrible at times, I felt like I understood him a little better (especially since I saw a couple of my current and former students in him).

Speaking as an adult reading this story, I thought there was one character more awful than even Julian. His mom was terrible! No, her son couldn’t possibly do anything wrong! If he acted out, surely it could be blamed on Auggie! No child should have to deal with facing a kid like that at such a prestigious private school! (I’m sure the educators reading this are hearing the voices of the my-child-can-do-no-wrong parents in their heads.) I just couldn’t stand this woman. (And yes, I know I’m probably projecting the issues I’ve had with parents onto her.) I truly think she–and Julian’s dad, to a lesser extent–were the kid’s biggest problem. If they’d made him face his mistakes instead of making excuses for him, things may not have escalated like they did.

One adult I did like seeing in this story was Julian’s grandmother. I think hearing her experiences really opened Julian’s eyes to his own actions. If not for her, I can only imagine how far Julian’s parents may have taken their vendetta against Auggie and the people at Julian’s school.


If you love Wonder, you definitely need to read The Julian Chapter. In my opinion, it adds another layer to an already wonderful story, and provides readers with insight into what may be going on in the mind of a bully (especially one who doesn’t see himself that way).

The Julian Chapter is an ebook download available everywhere for only $1.99. (I was lucky enough, once again, to read a free copy via NetGalley.)

For more on The Julian Chapter, check out the video below for a closer look with author R.J. Palacio.