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White Bird: A Wonder Story

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In Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian's grandmother, Grandmère. Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with Grandmère's story as a young Jewish girl hidden away by a family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Her experience demonstrates the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives.


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In Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian's grandmother, Grandmère. Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with Grandmère's story as a young Jewish girl hidden away by a family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Her experience demonstrates the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives.

30 review for White Bird: A Wonder Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Georgia

    I got the arc of this at the ALA conference, and it was amazing! The story was so sad, but it was really really good. In fact, I was so desperate for it not to end that I read all the way into the authors note and the research, which was very interesting. I especially appreciated the tie in to today, which was very important and moving.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This book expands upon Julian's story in Auggie & Me. It is a visually verbal history of Grandmere's history, of growing up during the holocaust & meeting Julian's namesake. Very touching & includes important historical insight. Additionally, there is an afterword, author's note, a note about the dedication, in-depth glossary with photos, a suggested reading list, list of organizations and resources, bibliography and image credits that will be a great and valuable resource for studen This book expands upon Julian's story in Auggie & Me. It is a visually verbal history of Grandmere's history, of growing up during the holocaust & meeting Julian's namesake. Very touching & includes important historical insight. Additionally, there is an afterword, author's note, a note about the dedication, in-depth glossary with photos, a suggested reading list, list of organizations and resources, bibliography and image credits that will be a great and valuable resource for students and other readers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelley Kowalczik

    This would have been 5 stars if it wasn’t for the political propaganda at the end. So disappointed that she did this.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kate Willis

    Oh my word. I am not okay. I need this now. <3

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    I loved White Bird. It will appeal to fans of Wonder who are willing to try something different. Certainly the kindness theme runs throughout coupled with the fact that it sometimes takes courage to be kind. I think a lot of kids will see themselves in the character of Sara. She is not a bully, but stands by while Julien is teased and tormented. Kids need to learn how to be an ally and how to advocate for others. The lesson is: don't wait for others to be kind, you should always be kind first! I I loved White Bird. It will appeal to fans of Wonder who are willing to try something different. Certainly the kindness theme runs throughout coupled with the fact that it sometimes takes courage to be kind. I think a lot of kids will see themselves in the character of Sara. She is not a bully, but stands by while Julien is teased and tormented. Kids need to learn how to be an ally and how to advocate for others. The lesson is: don't wait for others to be kind, you should always be kind first! It will pair well with Diary of a Young Girl, also available in graphic novel.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    R.J. Palacio is SUCH a rock star! Not only has she written a completely different style of book in this graphic novel, but she has also wrecked my emotions again! We received our ARC from a very dear friend who knew this book would quickly be in the hands of the kids in our middle/high school. My daughter, a fifth grader, devoured the book and couldn’t wait for me to read it because she was dying to talk to someone about the story. Congratulations, R.J. Palacio, for changing our level of empathy R.J. Palacio is SUCH a rock star! Not only has she written a completely different style of book in this graphic novel, but she has also wrecked my emotions again! We received our ARC from a very dear friend who knew this book would quickly be in the hands of the kids in our middle/high school. My daughter, a fifth grader, devoured the book and couldn’t wait for me to read it because she was dying to talk to someone about the story. Congratulations, R.J. Palacio, for changing our level of empathy and our lives forever once again! This story deserves to be read by ALL, young and old.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amber K.

    Loved it... full review to come. I need time to process this story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sue Seligman

    An excellent graphic novel by the author of Wonder, the ground breaking story of middle school challenges such as bullying, trying to fit in, peer pressure, etc. White Bird is the story of Julian’s French grandmother, a survivor of the Holocaust. The novel opens as Julian, the boy who bullied the main character in Wonder, interviews his grandmother via Face Time, for a school project. We learn that Julian is attending a new school and has regrets about his previous behavior. His grandmother relu An excellent graphic novel by the author of Wonder, the ground breaking story of middle school challenges such as bullying, trying to fit in, peer pressure, etc. White Bird is the story of Julian’s French grandmother, a survivor of the Holocaust. The novel opens as Julian, the boy who bullied the main character in Wonder, interviews his grandmother via Face Time, for a school project. We learn that Julian is attending a new school and has regrets about his previous behavior. His grandmother reluctantly agrees to tell him her life story, realizing that the younger generation needs to learn about history in order to make sure that they will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Julian and the readers will be touched and transfixed by Grandmere’s experiences, and ultimately changed by her revelations. This book is a good introduction to the Holocaust for middle school aged children. The graphic novel format is quite popular for today’s youngsters, and if utilized properly, may serve as a stepping stone to more challenging and traditional forms of reading. The author of the Wonder book series has the knack of knowing what her audience wants and needs in reading materials. She understands children and teens and her books reflect this compassion and insight. I highly recommend this book for tweens and their parents and teachers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karly

    I could not put this down. A fictional account of a young Jewish girl in hiding during WWII told as a graphic novel.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    I think the graphic novel format is a good choice for telling this type of historical story. Helps kids “see” and keep the characters straight.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    A must-read, must-buy graphic novel from RJ Palacio. Grandmère shares her account as a young, Jewish girl who is hidden by a family during World War II in occupied France. Her experience and evolving friendship with Julian is revealed along with the unexpected lessons of being a bystander who doesn’t speak out when an injustice is witnessed. This story is powerful and connects to the current injustices happening now. You’ll want to preorder this book which comes out in October 2019.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    Cut out the last 8 pages and this is a 5 star middle grade graphic novel. That's what I'll be doing when I share it with my nieces and nephews some day. The illegal immigration issue in the United States is not in any way similar to the Holocaust. That someone could draw that comparison boggles my mind and dishonors the sacrifices and deaths of millions of Jews and those who helped them. When people break the law of a country, they cannot expect that country to welcome them Cut out the last 8 pages and this is a 5 star middle grade graphic novel. That's what I'll be doing when I share it with my nieces and nephews some day. The illegal immigration issue in the United States is not in any way similar to the Holocaust. That someone could draw that comparison boggles my mind and dishonors the sacrifices and deaths of millions of Jews and those who helped them. When people break the law of a country, they cannot expect that country to welcome them with open arms or to look the other way--whether they are citizens or not! Unfortunately, American policies on immigration were not enforced so there are thousands of people who illegally built a life here. It may look like the government is the bad guy in this situation, but the bad guy is the guy who breaks the law. And immigrating illegally is, by definition, breaking the law. The United States of America does not have the responsibility or resources to host the entire world. We welcome those we can. But to improve the lives of millions and billions more, the governments of the countries people are fleeing need to change. And that change will be brought about best from the inside. Don't be so arrogant as to assume that the United States is meant to be the savior of the world. That position is already taken.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn

    I received an ARC of this book at Book Expo. I am not one who usually likes graphic novels, but the drawings are beautiful and add to the story. This is a “Wonder story”, but could be read as a stand-alone if you did not read Julian’s chapter. With how much sadness and hate is usually discussed in books about the Holocaust, this book gives hope and has lessons that will resonate with people today. Loved it!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Raven Black

    You can tell that this book was inspired by stories of the World War II and heavily influenced by Anne Frank. Great illustrations. Romantic in places though. But still realistic. A poetic, deep strong story. Mature theme but 10 to adult reader. Part of the Wonder and Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories stories, but also is a standalone story. Also included historical pieces while graphic novel itself fiction

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dana Giusti

    Devastating, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful. An incredibly important read, now more than ever.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

    I’m crying, this is graphic novel is so beautiful, the story is so raw and I can’t even.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Danae

    Very moving. I quite enjoy stories like this. Everything flowed so smoothly and I found myself fighting tears from start to finish. Very well written, which is no surprise from R.J. Palacio.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    So good. So good. So good. I felt all the feels. Oof. Such good storytelling.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emilia

    That...was amazing. I cried so much and the characters were really developed, so it made it that much more important when crazy things happened to them. I would recommend this book to everyone who needs to cry for an hour or two nonstop. This book helps raise awareness about the holocaust and what is happening to immigrants today. I really liked this book!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    First sentence: Julian, no more video games. Do your homework. This IS my homework. I’m FaceTiming Grandmere for my humanities project. Premise/plot: White Bird is a Wonder story told in graphic novel form. The framework of the story stars Julian, a character first introduced in Wonder. If you need a refresher, he was one of the main bullies tormenting Auggie Pullman. But the heart and soul of this one is Julian’s assignment. His grandmother, Sara, is sharing her war story, her life-c First sentence: Julian, no more video games. Do your homework. This IS my homework. I’m FaceTiming Grandmere for my humanities project. Premise/plot: White Bird is a Wonder story told in graphic novel form. The framework of the story stars Julian, a character first introduced in Wonder. If you need a refresher, he was one of the main bullies tormenting Auggie Pullman. But the heart and soul of this one is Julian’s assignment. His grandmother, Sara, is sharing her war story, her life-changing experiences as a Jewish girl in hiding. When the Second World War begins, Sara and her family aren’t panicking yet. They live in Free France, not the Occupied Zone. But changes come one after another. Soon there are all sorts of restrictions, rules, and dangers. Jewish people have even begun to be rounded up. Sara didn’t exactly plan out a place to hide, or even to hide at all. But a series of events soon leave her just one choice to trust a “crippled” often bullied and teased boy with her life. His name is Julian. My thoughts: I was unfamiliar with this story. Though apparently much of it is told in a previously published novella/short story. I absolutely loved the story. I loved the relationship between Sara and Julian—both Julians. It is a heartwarming, heartbreaking story of love, endurance, kindness, and hope. I believe that Holocaust stories both nonfiction and fiction are important—even essential. Children need to be introduced to the Holocaust. We cannot afford as a society to forget. This is a love, love, love for me. I believe that all people have a light that shines inside of them. This light allows us to see into other people’s hearts, to see the beauty there. The love. The sadness. The humanity. Some people, though, have lost this light. They have darkness inside them, so that is all they see. In others: darkness. No beauty. No love. Why do they hate us? Because they cannot see our light. Nor can they extinguish it. As long as we shine our light, we win. That is why they hate us. Because they will never take our light from us. You might forget many things in your life, but you never forget kindness. Like love, it stays with you forever.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    White Bird is a heart-breaking graphic novel for middle schoolers+ about a young, French, Jewish girl's life during the Holocaust. For those familiar with Wonder and related books, this story begins in the present and documents Julian's interview with his grandmère about her experiences for a school project. After the first few pages, the reader is immersed in young Sara's life as tensions grow among the Jewish community . We take on the role as an observer, watching what happens when the Jewish White Bird is a heart-breaking graphic novel for middle schoolers+ about a young, French, Jewish girl's life during the Holocaust. For those familiar with Wonder and related books, this story begins in the present and documents Julian's interview with his grandmère about her experiences for a school project. After the first few pages, the reader is immersed in young Sara's life as tensions grow among the Jewish community . We take on the role as an observer, watching what happens when the Jewish students are removed from Sara's school without explanation. We learn that Sara does not accompany her classmates and instead is befriended and hidden by an unsuspecting ally. It is the time spent in hiding that reveals much about Sara's character and her understanding of human compassion. Through the graphic medium, Palacio is able to move the reader literally and emotionally through the story. The panel construction creates a familiar and rhythmic pace. This allows the reader to dwell in the gravity of certain moments, while the coloring lends to a contemplative read. Palacio does not use violent imagery to shock the reader, making it appropriate for middle school +. Sarah's story, although fiction, is historically accurate and focuses on hope and healing. Palacio also includes additional information at the story's end to include: a glossary, additional resources, a bibliography and a list of related organizations. I highly recommend this emotional/historical read!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    4.5 stars - this book is very well written and beautifully drawn. The story is touching and sad and inspiring. I love the extra information at the end that helps make the Holocaust more accessible to young readers. A few parts depict violence in a stark but not explicit way. Younger readers may have trouble with some of the French place names and terminology, but they should be able to get the gist of the story even if a few things like that are difficult for them. Wonderful book! The 4.5 stars - this book is very well written and beautifully drawn. The story is touching and sad and inspiring. I love the extra information at the end that helps make the Holocaust more accessible to young readers. A few parts depict violence in a stark but not explicit way. Younger readers may have trouble with some of the French place names and terminology, but they should be able to get the gist of the story even if a few things like that are difficult for them. Wonderful book! There is one panel at the end that I wish was different. Most likely, young readers will not notice. (view spoiler)[ In the present-day, Grandmere is shown reading a newspaper in which the headline specifically highlights our current US president and his unpopular enforcement of a border policy that separated families in detainment. I feel like that one panel makes a pointed criticism that will soon be outdated (sadly, because other outrageous things will take its place - they already have, to some degree). It would've been more enduring with headlines about the plight of refugees without that specific reference. I think the person in question is an arrogant, harmful, selfish person; I would prefer drawing attention to those who suffer without giving him the gratification of a mention. A few pages away I like the image of the protestors, where the signage is more general in support of immigrants, refugees and others. (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]

  23. 4 out of 5

    idreamofallthebooks

    I literally have no words to describe how wonderfully heartfelt and maddening this story was! For those who are fans of the Wonder franchise, many of you will recognise Julian as Auggie’s classroom bully. However, this story dives a little bit further into Julian’s life – especially the life of his grand-mère, Sara. It tells the story of Sara’s childhood and adolescence in France during the time of the German Occupation. My goodness. Many tears were shed as we were taken on I literally have no words to describe how wonderfully heartfelt and maddening this story was! For those who are fans of the Wonder franchise, many of you will recognise Julian as Auggie’s classroom bully. However, this story dives a little bit further into Julian’s life – especially the life of his grand-mère, Sara. It tells the story of Sara’s childhood and adolescence in France during the time of the German Occupation. My goodness. Many tears were shed as we were taken on a journey through the eyes of a child who witnessed the horrors of anti-Semitism and yet, also witnessed the unifying and inextinguishable hope of humanity. The kindness and resilience embedded with this story demonstrated the utmost strength every human is capable of. The underlying message of ‘passivism is poison’ was also prevalent, and I thought the connections to certain current political events to be incredibly powerful. This is a must read – and I will certainly be recommending this one to my students! Thank you @penguinbooksaus for gifting me a copy to review! P.S. This is my little PSA for this story – expect to cry!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    A historical fiction graphic novel using a character from the story "Wonder". Julian (the character from "Wonder") has a project to do for school and he interviews his grand-mere via FaceTime. She tells of her life as a young Jewish girl growing up in France. She starts her story prior to World War II. However, things start changing and eventually she is hidden by a young man from school and his family. This young man, Julian, has been crippled from Polio and many of the children at school make A historical fiction graphic novel using a character from the story "Wonder". Julian (the character from "Wonder") has a project to do for school and he interviews his grand-mere via FaceTime. She tells of her life as a young Jewish girl growing up in France. She starts her story prior to World War II. However, things start changing and eventually she is hidden by a young man from school and his family. This young man, Julian, has been crippled from Polio and many of the children at school make fun of him. She had seen the bullying happening but never step in or stood up for him. Much like the book, "Wonder", this story talks about kindness, and seeing beyond someone's physical attributes. Another theme of the book is standing up for humanity and doing the right thing even when the government or your friends are doing something you know is wrong, much like the internment camps that are happening today with children of immigrants. A very powerful message with the visual boost of the graphic novel format. I received this book as an ARC from the publisher.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Bateman

    I received an ARC of this newest book by R.J. Palacio (of "Wonder" fame.) In this graphic novel Julian calls his grandmother in France. He regrets his previous behavior, and has an assignment for school for which he needs his grandmother's help. Then we go back in time to follow's his grandmother's story as Jew in France during the Nazi take-over. She was one of the "hidden" whose life teetered on the trust she had in those who chose to risk their lives for hers. One of them is a classmate, with I received an ARC of this newest book by R.J. Palacio (of "Wonder" fame.) In this graphic novel Julian calls his grandmother in France. He regrets his previous behavior, and has an assignment for school for which he needs his grandmother's help. Then we go back in time to follow's his grandmother's story as Jew in France during the Nazi take-over. She was one of the "hidden" whose life teetered on the trust she had in those who chose to risk their lives for hers. One of them is a classmate, with polio. This is a tender, compelling story that provides personal insight into the horrors of the Holocaust, and the bravery of some during that difficult time. While the story is fiction, it is based on factual accounts of many. The author includes a glossary, bibliography, and additional information about the Holocaust. There is an underlying message here for Julian--that we are not always defined by our bad choices, but can be redeemed by good ones. Touching, thought-provoking, and a story of hope amidst despair, this is sure to win awards.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brian Hendricks

    I liked Wonder and its message when I first read it to my fourth graders nearly six years ago. I liked the Wonder stories that provided a deeper understanding of Wonder’s characters and their motivations; the bully, Julian, in particular. I loved White Bird. It sits in an interesting space of Holocaust fiction based entirely on research, but managing to be honest and believable. The book also manages to be hopeful without dipping too far into sentimentalism and stark in its portrayal of violence I liked Wonder and its message when I first read it to my fourth graders nearly six years ago. I liked the Wonder stories that provided a deeper understanding of Wonder’s characters and their motivations; the bully, Julian, in particular. I loved White Bird. It sits in an interesting space of Holocaust fiction based entirely on research, but managing to be honest and believable. The book also manages to be hopeful without dipping too far into sentimentalism and stark in its portrayal of violence without sensationalizing. To find that it was drawn by Palacio herself (something I didn’t realize until I finished and looked back at the cover) felt revelatory. While reading, it is impossible for informed readers not to think of the current evils perpetrated at our border and the US detention of immigrant children, and Palacio, to her credit, does not hesitate to make the connection explicit by the end of the story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Hager

    You don't have to have read Auggie & Me (or even Wonder) to appreciate this story. As the synopsis says, it's set in World War II (with bookends in the present, as Grandmere tells Julian about her childhood in the 1940s). I have it marked on my blog as middlegrade and YA; children who have read Wonder will probably want to read this, too; I think it's age appropriate for them but be aware that people die in this. Also, unlike her other books, this is a graphic novel. That format w You don't have to have read Auggie & Me (or even Wonder) to appreciate this story. As the synopsis says, it's set in World War II (with bookends in the present, as Grandmere tells Julian about her childhood in the 1940s). I have it marked on my blog as middlegrade and YA; children who have read Wonder will probably want to read this, too; I think it's age appropriate for them but be aware that people die in this. Also, unlike her other books, this is a graphic novel. That format works amazingly well with this story, and the drawings are beautiful. The story is as heartbreaking as you would expect a story about Jewish people in World War II to be. And yet, as in Wonder, there is a lot of kindness, too. It's a fantastic story and I hope we don't have to wait this long for another book from R.J. Palacio. Highly recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    "You might forget many things in your life, but you never forget kindness. Like love, it stays with you... forever." This is the story of Julian's grandmere, who readers were introduced to in Julian's Chapter in Auggie & Me: three Wonder stories. Do you have to have read Wonder and Auggie & Me to "get something" from this? No. Absolutely not. This story can stand on its own - it's a timeless story of standing tall with love and kindness in a time of war. Audiobook: I don't thi "You might forget many things in your life, but you never forget kindness. Like love, it stays with you... forever." This is the story of Julian's grandmere, who readers were introduced to in Julian's Chapter in Auggie & Me: three Wonder stories. Do you have to have read Wonder and Auggie & Me to "get something" from this? No. Absolutely not. This story can stand on its own - it's a timeless story of standing tall with love and kindness in a time of war. Audiobook: I don't think I've ever listened to a graphic novel as an audiobook before. The full cast of narrators, pacing, music and sound effects were so astounding that I didn't even know I was missing illustrations. I received an ALC from Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group and Libro.Fm.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Luanne

    How the author was inspired to tell this story as a graphic novel, I don’t know. But it certainly added to the depth of the story. There are pages where there are no words and the illustrations give you pause to stop and think and let the words sink in. There are many relevant lessons captured in the story- stories of kindness, hope, courage, struggle against evil, but it is the author’s note at the end of the book that struck a chord with me. She is not Jewish, her husband is and some may say w How the author was inspired to tell this story as a graphic novel, I don’t know. But it certainly added to the depth of the story. There are pages where there are no words and the illustrations give you pause to stop and think and let the words sink in. There are many relevant lessons captured in the story- stories of kindness, hope, courage, struggle against evil, but it is the author’s note at the end of the book that struck a chord with me. She is not Jewish, her husband is and some may say who is she to tell this story. But she says it should not fall on the victims only to tell the story, we should all learn and tell it because then we will remember and if we remember then the hope is we will not allow a repeat of such tragedies.

  30. 5 out of 5

    J.E.

    When I received this ARC of Palacio's new book, I was a little dismayed to see it was a graphic novel. I don't read those, after all. Yet, as I delved into the story, I realized the power, beauty, and wonder of the story she tells. Using the character of the Grand-Mere from WONDER, the author tells the story of the grandmother as a teenager in France during the second World War, how she was forced to hide from the Nazis, how a young man saved her life and won her heart. This is a powerful remind When I received this ARC of Palacio's new book, I was a little dismayed to see it was a graphic novel. I don't read those, after all. Yet, as I delved into the story, I realized the power, beauty, and wonder of the story she tells. Using the character of the Grand-Mere from WONDER, the author tells the story of the grandmother as a teenager in France during the second World War, how she was forced to hide from the Nazis, how a young man saved her life and won her heart. This is a powerful reminder that we must never forget what happened then, and how our lives are changed by simple and courageous acts of kindness.

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