The cover of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder is an amazing window to the book’s moving story which has been shortlisted for a CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Book Award. About a ten-year-old boy born with a facial abnormality who is being sent to a real school after being home-schooled his whole life, the cover does an excellent job of communicating the feeling of being stared at, and the discovery the main character is also experiencing looking out at a new world. Perhaps not coincidentally, the author was an art director and graphic designer who designed book jackets for 20 years.
Her background notwithstanding, Palacio says she specifically didn’t negotiate “author approval” for the cover, but did ask for “author consult”. She suggested her publishers (Knopf) hire designer Tad Carpenter to do the cover illustration, which they did, but she never spoke with him directly. Palacio explains, “I used to hate it when authors had approval, and they would drive me crazy. I was absolutely hellbent on not being one of those authors in the process.”
She knew what she wanted though. “I told [Knopf] the direction… I wanted something iconic. For some reason I had kind of blue, black and white in my mind; and hand-lettered, but the rest [Knopf art department] kind of came up with.”
In an interview with a Knopf graphic designer and author posted on The Huffington Post, Palacio explained the inspiration behind her debut novel:
I started writing it probably around five years ago. I had a chance encounter with a little girl outside an ice cream store with my two kids, who were three, and ten or eleven at the time. It was their reaction to this little girl, and my reaction to their reaction. And it just got me thinking a lot about what it must be like to live in the shoes of someone suffering from any sort of facial difference. I actually started that night after this encounter.
Palacio’s publisher created a companion anti-bullying campaign for the book called Choose Kind.