Thomas Browne, fifth-grade teacher from Palacio’s best-selling Wonder (2012), returns in a companion volume offering a collection of inspiring precepts.
Precepts are “words to live by, to elevate the soul, that celebrate the goodness in people,” and Mr. Browne uses them to teach such classical virtues as wisdom, justice, courage and temperance. He believes his students are still kids, “so why should we let you roam wild in the uncharted territory of middle school without just a little bit of guidance?” At the beginning of each month, Mr. Browne writes a new precept on the board, students copy it in their notebooks, discuss it in class, and write paragraphs and essays inspired by the precepts. This volume includes a year’s worth of Mr. Browne’s precepts chosen from 10 years of teaching, as well as some submitted by young people in a contest held by the author. Each precept is credited, and most take up one page; occasional variations in background and typeface keep the visual presentation moderately interesting. Though the cumulative effect of so many inspiring words can be deadening, like being trapped in a Hallmark card shop, the intention is good, and Mr. Browne’s essays at the end of each month add a much-needed adult perspective on the need to guide young people in the ways of kindness and empathy.
A big collection of inspiring words that will appeal to the legions of fans awaiting more wonder in their lives. (acknowledgments, list of contributors) (Anthology. 8-12)