Wednesday, August 27, 2014

365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts - R. J. Palacio

Title: 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts (Companion book to Wonder)
Author: R.J. Palacio
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014 (Hardcover)
Length: 432 pages
Genre: Children's/Young Adult; Realistic Fiction, Nonfiction
Started: August 26, 2014
Finished: August 27, 2014

From the back cover:

Inspired by the unforgettable bestseller Wonder, here are 365 precepts - principles to live by - that will enlighten, engage, inspire, comfort, and challenge readers every day of the year. There's something for everyone here, with words of wisdom drawn from popular songs, great works of literature, inscriptions on Egyptian tombs fortune cookies, characters who appeared in Wonder, and over 100 readers, who sent author R.J. Palacio their own precepts.

This beautifully designed keepsake is a celebration of kindness, hopefulness, the goodness of human beings, the power of people's wills, and the strength of people's hearts.

As many of you know, I read Wonder last year and loved it to teeny tiny pieces. Since then I've talked to many local teachers who have read it to their classes, and have even read it to my own class of grade 5s, and every time the consensus is that the kids love it, they stare in rapt attention while you're reading it and complain when it's time to put the book down, it's a phenomenon. So when I heard the author was coming out with this book, I literally squealed as I was pre-ordering it.

This book is a companion to the original novel. The author writes as Mr. Thomas Browne, the English teacher Auggie and company had in Wonder who decides to compile a book of his famous precepts (principles to live by). There are 365 of them here: some from the book, most from history, literature, modern-day figures, etc.; and even some sent in from readers (including a few from Canada, yay!) There are also written pieces done in the voice of Mr. Browne in the beginning and in between each month where he contemplates ideas and gives updates on the kid characters from Wonder (Julian even apologizes to Auggie via letter).

My favourite "month" of quotes so to speak is October's. There are ones from Victor Hugo, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Hellen Keller, Carl Sagan, Voltaire, Dr. Seuss, it's a lovely modge-podge of goodness. My favourite essay from Mr. Browne is the one after November where he discusses the idea of the four virtues (Wisdom, Justice, Courage, Temperance) and has his class weigh in on which characters from literature best embody these ideals.

I used to collect famous quotes when I was a teenager and even compiled them in a book just like this one (not as nice as this one admittedly), and using quotes as writing prompts or for assignments is something many English teachers like myself tend to do. This book is perfect for teachers looking for assignment starters or prompts for bell work, and for readers who adored Wonder and the idea of Mr. Browne's precepts.

Just read it, it's good, I promise. I could even see people buying these as gifts for the holidays, it's that type of book that has appeal.

Thoughts on the cover:
A different shade of blue than the Wonder cover, but includes Auggie's face. It's a very well put together book, very pretty.

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