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Meeting ‘Wonder’ author R.J. Palacio

Author R.J. Palacio at Cooper Union Hall in

Author R.J. Palacio at Cooper Union Hall in Manhattan with Kidsday reporters, from left: Michael Mullooly, Gabriella Giudici, Kathleen Cooney and Nicholas Gallo. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

Recently we met best-selling author R.J. Palacio. If you do not know who she is, R.J., is the author of the books “Wonder,” “Auggie and Me” and “365 Days of Wonder.”

R.J is an amazing writer and the stories she writes are so touching. If you have not read “Wonder,” it is a novel about a kid named Auggie who has Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare facial deformity. Auggie is dealing with some negative people but with the help of his friends and family, he gets through it. This book is very inspiring to always choose to be kind.

We met R.J. at the Great Hall in Cooper Union. We were super excited and on pins and needles the whole time until we finally got in. When we got in, we got right to the questions. One of the questions we asked her was who was your favorite character in “Wonder.” That really got R.J. thinking. She said she really loves Via, Auggie’s sister. She said she loves Via so much because she is super understanding and never gives up.

R.J. had so many good answers to our questions. Some questions were when you were writing your book did you think about writing it so the kids who read it think about other kids who are different and not to bully them and she said yes, she did think about it when she was writing it.

Two more questions were: Are you ever going to make a movie about “Auggie and Me”? and what made you want to become an author?’ The answer to the first question was the producer would like that but she said it’s a possibility she is still not fully sure of yet. The answer to the second question was when she was a kid she loved to write and read.

We wanted to know how long it took R.J. to write “Wonder,” and she told us that it took her 1 1⁄2 years just to complete the first draft.

In the book, the family dog, Daisy, dies. We wanted to know why! We loved Daisy. When R.J. heard that question, she stopped for a moment and thought about the answer. Then she said Auggie always wanted to be a normal kid and she felt that losing pets is what normal kids go through. She also added that after that happened Auggie matured.

On a personal note we wanted to know what job would you be terrible at. She had an answer right away and said, “Dancing, I cannot dance.” This made us all laugh! Then Gabby said “I can’t dance either” This made them laugh some more. R.J. said she could never ever go on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Finally, we asked if she has ever been bullied. She said “No but that depends what you think bullying is. Bullies are people who use their power against people who don’t have as much power.” We think this was a great definition of bullying because it comes in all different forms and this was a perfect way to say that.

After our interview, R.J. was giving a presentation at Cooper Union on embracing our differences and choosing to be kind. We were lucky enough to be able to stay for the talk. The stage was set up with two chairs, one for R.J. and one for the librarian who was hosting the interview. So aside from the questions we asked we got to hear a bunch more from the librarian.

We also found out she had a small role in the “Wonder” movie, we won’t give it away, but she is in the very end. In conclusion, we learned so much about R.J. that not only is she a bestselling author but she is also a person who is choosing to be kind! We are all wonders!

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