Brynn was happy to meet Wonder author, RJ Palacio, during Palacio's recent visit to the Fox Cities. Students in Neenah recently held fundraisers to help raise money to help with transportation costs for Brynn's surgeries. Thanks for the community efforts to help this extraordinary child! Choose Kind!
Our 2014 Fox Cities Reads author took the Fox Valley by storm, reaching over 4,000 students, teachers, and others during her 2-day visit.
Little Chute Middle School students celebrate the author's arrival.
Palacio shares the story that inspired her to write Wonder.
Palacio with the 2014 Reads Writing Contest winner, Miles Beach, and his mother.
Our favorite precept! Will YOU choose kind? Make the pledge today and carry Palacio's positive message forward.
Thanks to everyone who supported Palacio's visit and to everyone who participated in the programs!
We are thrilled that R. J. Palacio will be able to come to the Fox Cities on May 20th and 21st. Here is the schedule of events set so far. Please monitor this site for the most up-to-date schedule leading up to the author's visit.
Tuesday, May 20:
Student presentation at UW-Fox Valley
(not open to the public)
Q&A with the author at Appleton Public Library
(open to the public)
Author Presentation at Appleton North High School
(open to the public)
Wednesday, May 21:
Student Presentation at Shattuck Middle School in Neenah
(not open to the public)
Student Presentation at Appleton West High School
(not open to the public)
We hope you have read Wonder, the 2014 Fox Cities Reads selection, and will enjoy one of the above presentations while Palacio is in the Fox Cities.
We are happy to announce that R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder, the 2014 Fox Cities Reads selection, will visit the Fox Cities May 20th and 21st!
Events are still being scheduled but will include multiple public events. More information and updates will be posted here soon.
Originally scheduled to appear in April, Ms. Palacio had to reschedule due to a family emergency.
Wonder is a New York Times Best Seller and appeals to community members of all ages. Copies of the book are available at all Fox Cities’ libraries. Pick up a copy if you haven't read the book and see the author in person.
Mr. Tushman asked me to Beecher in the summer. Total nightmare.
But I was glad to finally get out of the house. Mom and Dad are always arguing about stupid stuff, like who sleeps where. Ever since the divorce, it's been hard for me and Dad. Because Dad couldn’t find a home, Mom let us stay until he found a house. Now they're arguing 24/7.
When I got to the front desk of the school, Mrs. Garcia said “Mr. Tushman will be right with you.”
When I walk in, Mr. Tushman asked me to sit.
“Mr. Tushman, Jack Will and Charlotte are here.” Mrs. Garcia called from the speaker.
“Send them in.” Mr. Tushman called back.
Jack Will and Charlotte come in and sat down, Jack Will on my right and Charlotte on my left. “As I was saying, I have an important task for you three.” Mr. Tushman announced.
“ You three are some of the best students I ever seen. So I set up a tour for you to give. It’s for a boy that has a facial deformity that is called craniofacial difference.” Mr. Tushman told us.
“When are we going to give the tour?” I asked.
When we all got to the front desk in the morning, Mrs. Garcia knocked on the door and said “ They’re here, Mr. Tushman.”
Mr. Tushman opened the door. Then I saw August Pullman’s face for the first time. It was horrible! It was the face that gave anger to me. The face made me want to lose control. It was the face that reminded me of all of the horrible things that are in the world. And then I realized, if it gave all of that to me, I’ll give all of it back.
"I realized bullying never has to do with you.
It's the bully who's insecure."
When I get scared, I immediately get frustrated and upset.
Just thought I’d tell you that.
When mom dropped me off, I walked into the building and saw Jack and Charlotte were already waiting outside Mr. Tushman’s door. I heard muffled talking inside the office: Mr. Tushman, a middle-aged woman, and... August. My palms started to sweat and my insides started to churn. I must have had a weird look on my face, because Jack was staring at me quizzically. “What’s your problem?” I growled. Five long minutes passed, when finally, the door opened.
“Come on in, kids! It’s time to meet Auggie!” Auggie? My eyes rest on his face, and in a millisecond I look down and back up again. My eyes, green-gray, and his, rich brown, lock for a second, and I know he saw what I did.
My eyes are full of fear.
His eyes are too.
Then we both look away.
Mr. Tushman is talking, but I don’t really hear him. Next to me I see Jack shake August’s hand, so I step forward to shake his hand too. I pretend to lock both my hands behind my back, but I really wipe my right hand on the back of my shirt. I look at August, and, again, I’m sure he knew what I did. Those brown eyes could see right through me. “...and I’m sure he’ll love it. Are you ready, kids?” Mr. Tushman was saying. I numbly remembered we had to take August on a tour around the school, and so I nodded. Me, Jack, and Charlotte walked out of the door, and August, deformed, scary August followed us.
Can I avoid them?
When Mr. Tushman called my house to ask if I would show a new kid with a "slight deformity" in his face, I was expecting someone with a cleft palate in their lip or something. This kid's so ugly, I can't even describe it. My mom thought it was a very kind thing to do, and she had seen him around town, at the grocery store, and at the park, so she knew how people were mean to him. She told me I didn't have to, but "strongly encouraged" me to, and told me to be nice, whatever I do. I was as nice to him as I could be...until we got to the auditorium. I was really starting to wonder about his face, so I asked him: "Can I ask you a question?" To this, he shrugged. "What's the deal with your face? I mean, were you in a fire or something?" Charlotte's face crinkled with disgust as she said, "Julian, that's so rude!" Then we went on arguing about how Mr. Tushman told us we could ask questions, blah blah blah. It was a legitimate question! I never did really get an answer though, and it made me mad that he could take a hit so lightly. Most kids would crinkle up crying, or punch me, but at that moment I knew, all I really wanted was to break this kid.
Jack and August
"Okay, so partners for your science projects!" Ms. Rubin said, looking around the class. "Reid and Tristan, Maya and Max, Charlotte and Ximena, August and Jack..." I was disgusted. I was there when Mr. Tushman told us to be extra nice to everyone, and Jack was trying to rack up points with the teachers by being best friends with him all year. Sometimes I thought maybe the staff had bribed him with good grades. I hated it, so I decided to talk to Jack after class. "...Miles and Amos, Julian and Henry..." I tuned out again.
I was thinking, Jack and August, sitting in a tree, the two best friends that could ever be. First comes the ugliness, then comes the deformity, then Jack goes and ditches me. I had tried multiple times to get Summer and Jack to stop being friends with him. I know that Mr. Tushman didn't ask Summer to be nice, but I just don't understand how she can find anyone who looks like that easy to be around.
On Halloween this year, I dressed up as Darth Sidious. One of my more favorite characters from Star Wars is Jango Fett, but the second I found out that "the freak" was coming as Boba Fett, I quickly changed my costume to last year's. There was no way I would be going as a "relative" of his.
During our homeroom in Ms. Petosa's classroom, Jack Will, dressed as a mummy, and I were having a conversation about August. I said something about how I would put a hood over my face every day if I looked like that, and Jack Will responded with that he would kill himself. This really shocked me.
"Tushman asked me to hang out with him at the beginning of the year, and he must have told all the teachers to put us next to each other in all our classes, or something."
A little while after this, the bleeding scream from from a few desks away quickly rushed out of the room. "What's their problem? Are they like sick or something? And where's August?" I asked, getting impatient to make fun of his costume, although a Boba Fett never walked through that door.
The "August Disease"
Yep, I invented it. It is my masterpiece. I don't know how gullable every kid in our grade is, but they all believed me when I told them during the second week or so of school, that August had a contagious disease and the only way for everyone not to catch it was to stay six feet away from him at all times. I called it the Plague. Also, I edited out his face in the class picture, which was actually surprisingly easy. Although, the editing system I used didn't recognize his face. It was the computer, not me. Anyways, I also held this amazing holiday party over Winter Break, and everyone was there. Except for August and Jack. At this party, I kind of switched everyone and told them they had to pick a side. Mine or August's. There were a few people that wanted to stay out of the drama and were called "neutrals," but the majority of the kids were on my side. I was very happy at this, and, quite frankly, not surprised at all.
At the end of year celebration in the auditorium, I was very surprised when August won the Henry Ward Beecher award. That award was mine! I sucked up to every teacher and tried very hard on all of my assignments, double and even triple checking my answers! I still think he only got that award because of his "slight" facial deformity. Everyone suddenly switched sides, including Miles and Henry. I don't understand! How can people be so nice to someone who was meant to be bullied? I like to think I am fulfilling my duties as a bully by breaking down August's overconfidence. At least next year I will have a new wimp to bully at my new school.
Secrets. We all have them, whether it’s big or small. Some people keep secrets to avoid getting in trouble, they’re embarrassed, or maybe they’re afraid of what others would think if their secret got out. I have a secret that could change how people see me. Everyday I carry around lies that continuously grow, crushing me in the process. At school all of the kids see me as the coolest guy in school, best athlete, most popular. At school, I’m the guy, the one that everyone wants to be friends with. Therefore, I got superiority over my peers.
It was strange because, suddenly, if we were friends, you were “cool” and if not… you were a “loser”. To sit by me at lunch was considered a privilege. At first the attention was uncomfortable, but I quickly grew accustomed to it. I even added to it until I got myself a reputation as Mr. Popularity. That’s the reason for my secret. I mean, I can’t simply ruin something that I’ve worked so hard at. That’s why when August came to Beecher Prep, things got complicated for me. You see, his face didn’t bother me, but I couldn’t be nice to him because then my friends would think I’m a freak. To uphold my image, I did anything I could to make August unwelcome at our school. I hated it, but bullying him was my only option. I feel bad for August, and guilty for doing it. That’s actually my problem, my secret. I don’t hate August, I’m his biggest fan. I admire him for all he’s been through and how strong he is. Auggie is the coolest person at school, even if nobody else knows it. However, people can’t know my secret, and if I can help it, they never will.
Congratulations to our first Writing Contest winners:
- Grade 5 - Miles Beach, Menasha
- Grade 6 - Esther Hammen, Little Chute
- Grade 7 - Grace Sprangers, Kaukauna
- Grade 8 - Jennifer Bradle, Freedom
And our overall winner is... Miles Beach!
Each student will receive a winning certificate via email. We are also still working on bringing Palacio to the Fox Cities before the end of the school year, so the winning students will be able to enjoy lunch with our author and receive an autographed copy of the book. We will post new dates for the author visit as soon as they become available.
Congratulations to our winners! And thank you to all of the schools, teachers, and students who honored us with your entries. We are proud of the work of our Fox Cities students!
The winning essays will be posted on this site throughout the week, so stay tuned!