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.