“What does it mean to be the best?”
|Image: All Rights Reserved,|
|London: Bodley Head|
I think I was smiling. Maybe I was beaming, I don’t know. As I walked up the aisle toward the stage, all I saw was a blur of happy bright faces looking at me, and hands clapping for me. And I heard people yelling out things out at me: “You deserve it, Auggie!” “Good for you, Auggie!” I saw all my teachers in the aisle seats, Mr. Browne and Ms. Petosa and Mr. Roche and Mrs. Atanabi and Nurse Molly and all the others: and they were cheering for me, woo-hooing and whistling.
I felt like I was floating. It was so weird. Like the sun was shining full force on my face and the wind was blowing. As I got closer to the stage, I saw Ms. Rubin waving at me in the front row, and then next to her was Mrs. G, who was crying hysterically – a happy crying – smiling and clapping the whole time. And as I walked up the steps to the stage, the most amazing thing happened: everyone started standing up. Not just the front rows, but the whole audience suddenly got to their feet, whooping, hollering, clapping like crazy. It was standing ovation. For me.
I walked across the stage to Mr. Tushman, who shook my hand with both his hands and whispered in my ear: “Well done, Auggie.” Then he placed the gold medal over my head, just like they do in the Olympics, and had me turn to face the audience. It felt like I was watching myself in a movie, almost, like I was someone else. It was like that last scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope when Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca are being applauded for destroying the Death Star. I could almost hear the Star Wars theme music playing in my head as I stood on the stage.
I wasn’t even sure why I was getting this medal, really.
No, that’s not true. I knew why.
It’s like people you see sometimes, and you can’t imagine what it would be like to be that person, whether it’s somebody in a wheelchair or somebody who can’t talk. Only, I know that I’m that person to other people, maybe to every single person in that whole auditorium.
To me, though, I’m just me. An ordinary kid.
But hey, if they want to give me a medal for being me, that’s okay. I’ll take it. I didn’t destroy a Death Star or anything like that, but I did just get through the fifth grade. And that’s not easy, even if you’re not me.
Extract from the book Wonder
By R.J. Palacio
All Rights Reserved.
London: Bodley Head, 2012
Call Number: ENGLISH J PAL
Extract contributed by Yock Hwee Fang, Librarian, Public Library Services
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