Book Review: 365 Days of Wonder

365 Days of Wonder:  Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts

by R.J. Palacio

365 Days of Wonder Cover

My Rating: ***** 5 out of 5 stars

Why Did I Read?

I read this book because it goes along with one of my all-time favorite books – Wonder, also by R.J. Palacio.  (You can see my review for Wonder here.)

Summary (from Goodreads)

In the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Wonder, readers were introduced to memorable English teacher Mr. Browne and his love of precepts. Simply put, precepts are principles to live by, and Mr. Browne has compiled 365 of them—one for each day of the year—drawn from popular songs to children’s books to inscriptions on Egyptian tombstones to fortune cookies. His selections celebrate kindness, hopefulness, the goodness of human beings, the strength of people’s hearts, and the power of people’s wills. Interspersed with the precepts are letters and emails from characters who appeared in Wonder. Readers hear from Summer, Jack, Charlotte, Julian, and Amos.

There’s something for everyone here, with words of wisdom from such noteworthy people as Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Goethe, Sappho—and over 100 readers of Wonder who sent R. J. Palacio their own precepts.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  I loved that it was a VERY quick read, with one precept per page and a short essay written by Mr. Browne at the beginning of each month.  I loved the way it tied into the book Wonder (which I think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime).  I loved all of the precepts.  I have been writing down quotes I love since I was a little girl, and I had always wanted to compile them all in one place.  365 Days of Wonder contains many of my favorite quotes, and I found the book and all of its precepts to be very inspiring to me.

I love Mr. Browne’s character.  He is a wonderful teacher filled with wisdom, and he passes it on to his 5th graders.  I think he is one of those teachers that makes a huge impact on his students’ lives.  He doesn’t teach just for students to pass a test…he teaches them much more important things, such as kindness, wisdom, justice, etc.  I loved these lines from Mr. Browne’s December essay:  “Teachers need the freedom to teach — freedom they can’t have if they’re only teaching so their students can pass tests.  I’m pretty sure my students won’t find anything about Hector on the Common Core tests.  I’m equally sure that what they learned about Wisdom, Justice, Courage, and Temperance may stay with them for the rest of their lives.” ~Mr. Browne

teacher affects eternity

I would absolutely recommend reading this book, although I would suggest reading Wonder first.  Now that I have read Wonder and I’ve read Mr. Browne’s perspective in 365 Days of Wonder, the next book on my list to read is The Julian Chapter:  A Wonder Story.  I’m looking forward to reading Julian’s perspective.  In this Wonder story, I love the whole concept of getting the different points of view from all the different characters.  It really reinforces the idea that we should not judge others because we have no idea what they are going through, and people act the way they do for a reason.

For more reviews on 365 Days of Wonder, or information about author R.J. Palacio and her books, check it out here on Goodreads.

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A book I’ll Never Forget: Wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  One of my all-time favorites and a book that will stay with me forever…

Wonder image

Why Did I Read It?

My 10-year old daughter is reading this book with her 5th grade class.  I saw it in her backpack and I was intrigued as I leafed through it and saw some of the testimonials from some of my favorite authors.  It looked like a quick read (which I loved), and I also thought it would be nice to be able to talk about the book with my daughter since we don’t usually enjoy reading the same types of books.  This one we both loved, though!

Summary

The author calls this book “a meditation on kindness.”  I think that description fits this book perfectly.

“August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school – until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?”

“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

Wonder tells Auggie’s story from six different viewpoints.  The book begins to describe Auggie’s 5th grade year of school from his point of view, but then switches to include that of his older sister, Via; his classmates Summer and Jack; Via’s best friend; and Via’s boyfriend.  At the end of the book, it switches back to Auggie’s point of view.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I LOVE this book!  This is one of the most moving books I have ever read.  As I traveled along with Auggie on his journey through 5th grade, I laughed, cried, and felt a wide range of emotions as I read the story through several different points of view.  This book, with it’s really short chapters, was a very quick and easy read.  I love that!  I thought it was brilliantly written, and I loved reading the story from several different points of view.

One of my favorite concepts in the book is Mr. Browne’s Precepts.  Mr. Browne is Auggie’s English teacher, and he gives a different precept each month and encourages the kids to come up with some of their own.  Here are some of my favorite precepts and quotes from the book:

“When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

“To thine own self be true.” ~Hamlet, Shakespeare

“Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world.” ~August Pullman

“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as you ever can.” ~John Wesley’s Rule

“You can’t exactly blend in when you were born to stand out.” ~Auggie

And my personal favorite:

“If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about the book, check out the book trailer here. Check out Goodreads here for more book reviews and information about the author.

Update:  October 29, 2014  My daughter just started her very own blog, and you can view her review of Wonder here. 🙂