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  By Katherine Tan (Singapore) 文:陈珏均(新加坡)  Kindness Does Not Cost Much 《奇迹男孩》: 善良无价 Wonder is a story of the kindness and courage of an ordinary boy with a facial anomaly. 《奇迹男孩》,一个面部畸形的平凡男孩展现善良与勇气的动人故事。 Stories about children longing to fit in as they find their own identity and place in society tend to be heart-wrenching. However, the insecurity and loneliness felt by these children are intensified when they are also dealing with disability. Best-selling children novel Wonder by celebrated American author Raquel Jaramillo Palacio is one such story. Who is Auggie? Born with distorted facial features, August (Auggie) Pullman has undergone 27 surgeries by the time he is 10 years old. Despite his ordeal, his unusual face still leads to cruel nicknames like “Freak”, “Monster” and “Lizard Face”. However, Auggie and his loving family meets every negative encounter head on with wisdom and humour. Home-schooled hitherto, Auggie attends a mainstream school for the first time at Beecher Peep as a fifth grader. This drastic change in his life is likened to sending “a lamb to the slaughter” by his father. Auggie faces adversities such as being called “The Plague” in school, being bullied by his schoolmates and being betrayed by his best friend. Along the way, he endures the heartbreak of the loss of the beloved family pet. Wonder is the story of how Auggie overcomes extraordinary struggles in life. Through sheer determination, he gives his best at school and wins the Henry Ward Beecher Medal at the end of the fifth grade. Beecher, the American social reformer known for his support of the abolition of slavery, once said that a person “is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own”. Auggie does just that by “being a little kinder than is necessary”. Personal Reflections Palacio’s novel is divided into eight parts and Auggie’s narrative is interspersed with the voices of his family members and friends, providing insights to what Auggie means to them and the community at large. I was touched by Wonder, especially since I am a mother with two sons, aged seven and 11. The trials that Auggie faces are more than any child should have to bear. It is also insightful to glimpse the thoughts of Olivia, Auggie’s sister, whose needs are often placed in second place and is expected to be “understanding beyond her age”. As parents, we sometimes unconsciously neglect the needs of one child for another. This realisation got me to reflect. The underlying message of Wonder is that the true colour of your personality will shine through regardless of your appearance. Greatness is not about one’s 44 - popularnews 138 

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