If you read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio when it came out in 2012, or saw the movie version in 2017, you’ll want to check out the story of this real boy and his family who in some ways served as the inspiration for the beloved character of Auggie Pullman in those stories.
Nathaniel Newman is an incredible kid, funny and mellow, who just happens to have Treacher Collins syndrome, the same facial difference as the character in Palacio’s novel. This book tells his story in a Young Readers edition, with alternating voices from both Nathaniel and his mom Magda, accompanied by fun comics-style superhero illustrations. Nathaniel’s voice is laid-back and wry, while his mom provides some perspective on her son’s earlier years that he doesn’t remember, and the real perspectives and struggles that any parent would face who was unexpectedly thrust into the situation. Mix in there Magda’s own survival of cancer — twice — and it’s clear that this is one resilient family.
Wonder and its author do make several appearances in this book — the family meets R. J. Palacio several times, goes on several book talks with the author, and Palacio had images of Nathaniel in front of her when she was researching the book by talking to medical professionals at a children’s hospital. Later, Nathaniel actually is one of the “real-life” kids with Treacher Collins who audition for the role in the movie, but is not selected — as Nathaniel admits, “most kids with Treacher Collins don’t have a lot of time to develop their acting skills” (p. 191). He may not get to be a Hollywood actor, but I think Nathaniel has the skills and attitude to do most anything he wants!
by Magdalena & Nathaniel Newman
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