Some say laughter is the best medicine. Is there evidence of fun moments in R. J. Palacio's novel Wonder?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In R. J. Palacio's novel Wonder, one moment of comedy can be found when August meets his new principal, Mr. Tushman, for the first time. August confesses to being "kind of giggly" when meeting Mr. Tushman because his dad had been making many jokes about the principal's name. When August does meet him, early on in the conversation, August points to a painting hung behind Mr. Tushman's desk and asks him if it's a painting of a pumpkin. Mr. Tushman's reply that the student who gave it to him said it was Mr. Tushman's portrait leads August to connect Mr. Tushman to a jack-o'-lantern, which makes him laugh at a brand new joke about his principal's name:

Something about the way his cheeks puffed out when he smiled made him look like a jack-o'-lantern. Just as I thought that, it occurred to me how funny that was: cheeks, Mr. Tushman. And I started laughing a little. I shook my head and covered my mouth with my hand. (p. 20)

The amusing scene serves to paint August as a real human being: he's just like many moderately intelligent children his age--full of bright ideas, wit, and giggles.

Another amusing moment happens in his first English class. Mr. Brown refers to the plaque he has on his door and states, "It says 'Know Thyself,' ... And learning who you are is what you're here to do." Jack's response to Mr. Browne's comment is particularly amusing: "I thought we were here to learn English." Then comes Mr. Browne's final amusing comment: "Oh yeah, and that, too!" (p. 47) Just as this amusing moment helped August breathe a sigh of relief, the amusing episode helps the reader in exactly the same way. The reader feels comforted knowing August has such a sensible and devoted teacher and can sense the foreshadowing: August will indeed come to know himself this year.

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