The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron CurtainSís begins with a short introduction, giving context to the historical events. And then he starts his memoir by saying how he loved to draw for as long as he can remember. Throughout, he tells parallel stories of childhood and the political circumstances in Czechoslovakia. At home, he was able to draw whatever he wanted, but as soon as he started school, he was influenced by the state controlled propaganda.
by Peter Sís
Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007
Sibert Award for Nonfiction, 2008
Caldecott Honor, 2008
Your local library
"The Communists take control of the school. Russian-language classes--COMPULSORY.
Joining the Young Pioneers, the Communist youth movement--COMPULSORY."
|"After drawing whatever he wanted to at home, he drew what he was told to at school."|
After the liberation of Prague Spring in 1968, the Soviets imposed strict controls once again. But Czechs found ways to push back and share ideas.
|"Phones are bugged again, mail opened, people watched... Banned books are secretly translated, copied, and circulated as samizdat."|
|"To get a permit to have a studio in my own house, I have to prove that I am an artist in good 'social standing,' that is, a member of the Community Party."|
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain provides a fascinating way to combine visual storytelling, memoir and political history. I am grateful to Peter Sís, not only for persevering to follow his art, but also for telling this story. I know, from my own family history, the pressure to move forward and put difficult times behind you--and the Czech Republic is blossoming once again. But this history, both personal and political, is important to share with our children. Kirkus Review sums it up:
"A masterpiece for readers young and old."Illustrations ©2007 Peter Sís; used with permission from the publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux / Macmillan. The review copy comes from our personal library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.
©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books