Review of the Day: The Wall (Part Two)
(CONTINUED FROM PART ONE)
The comic book bloggers have been calling this book a picture book graphic novel, and have claimed “The Wall” as their own. It’s a very interesting take. At first glance I just assumed that this story was similar in its layout and structure to the Galileo and Darwin books Sis has put out before. And it is, in a way, but then I took a closer look at the structure. Though this is not the case on every page, the art is consistently broken into panels. There aren’t speech balloons or much in the way of text integrated within the pictures. Because the words surround the pictures, the eye has something to dance between. The tiny dot style Sis employs here works beautifully within the context of the story. Colors stand out against a black and white background. With the exception of the color red, nothing in Prague is allowed to be colorful. Only Westernized objects and ideas appear in anything but pen and ink. The two-page multi-colored spread of the Spring of 1968 (shown here) stands in sharp contrast to the red-infused earlier spread of Stalinism and its ilk.
Sis hasn’t won a Caldecott Award proper quite yet. He’s been honored for “Tibet Through the Red Box” and “Starry Messenger” (not “Tree of Life”, bizarrely) but “The Wall” is bound to be the best bet he’s had yet. It’s a beautiful book and no one is going to contest that. Shoot, it’s already gotten at least four starred reviews in professional journals and is bound to garner some more. Come award season it’ll sweep the nominations and everyone will get to hear a lovely Peter Sis speech (he’s a very good public speaker) and it will all be lovely and droll. I don’t object to the book winning, but I do wish the heavy hand guiding it could have trusted the audience a little and not spelled out its message quite so blatantly (i.e. “America to the rescue”). It’s quite an accomplishment but one that could have stood a drop of irony in the mix.
On shelves August 21st.
Misc: The lovely Peter Sis website including an audio file of him reading this book aloud.
Filed under: Reviews
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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