by Bob Minzesheimer)
R.J. Palacio's kids' novel, Wonder, about a fifth grader with a facial deformity, was no instant hit.
Six months after its release on Valentine Day's 2012, it landed on USA TODAY's extended list at No. 360. But it has been popular ever since, rising as high as No. 38 and in the top 150 for 52 weeks. That's the sign that the book's sales are driven less by media attention and more by personal recommendations passed on from one reader to another.
Now, Random House is announcing it will publish Palacio's companion title, 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts – the cover is revealed here – on Aug. 26. It's filled with precepts or principles to live by for each day of the year.
(In Wonder, aimed at readers 8 to 12, Mr. Browne is a memorable teacher who loves precepts.)
Via Twitter and Tumblr, Palacio asked readers for ideas for a new book, and received more than 1,200 in two weeks. She used about 100 of the readers' suggestions in her new book, which uses quotations from Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. It also includes letters and e-mails from the fictional characters in Wonder.
Palacio also is writing an e-book, The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story, about the bully in Wonder, to be released May 13.
In a statement, Palacio says of Julian: "I had always thought he was an interesting character worthy of further exploration, but I didn't give him a voice in Wonder because he had nothing to add to Auggie's narrative." (Auggie is the boy with the deformity.)
She adds, "Outside of the context of Wonder, however, I'm able to explore the character much further. I think a lot of children identify with Julian – the bully – whether they admit it or not, and they struggle with whether he has any chance for redemption. I think The Julian Chapter will bring some closure for this character who has sparked so much discussion among my readers."