The Wall: Growing up behind the iron curtain
4 out of 5
Peter Sis used The Wall to tell his own story of being born and raised in the grasp of the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union. He is an avid artist and used each page as his backdrop for pictures to go into detail for his story. At the bottom of the page he wrote either a line or a few words to give the basics of his story to the reader. His main means of conveying his experiences to his audience however was through the pictures themselves. I gave this book 4 stars out of 5 due to a little bit of difficulty following the pictures and story together. This would be a problem for young readers. The text was scattered across the pages, and the illustrations were very busy. They were done with a pencil, but some parts of the illustrations were painted. Red was the dominant color, of course due to the book being about communism. All of the communist flags and stars were denoted with the red coloring. Sis did a great job touching on the before and after affects of the Cold War in a way that is easily understandable. There was a little bit of white space on most of the pages but the attention was directed completely at the pictures through the words and the colors. There were some photographs in the book as well, which would appeal to older audiences. I found the book a bit hard to follow, as well as the text to be weak.
The recommended reading level for the book would be for students in the third through fifth grades. It may be difficult for younger students to understand the Cold War and communism. I believe students could connect to feeling persecuted for following something that they believe in, as well as feeling like they do not matter. Two subject areas into which the book could be integrated could be math and history. For a history lesson, students could make a relief map of the period during the Cold War. Students could denote countries under Communist rule by painting them red. There was an afterword and a brief, “About the Author” section at the end of the book, but there was not a glossary or an index.