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The wall : growing up behind the Iron…
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The wall : growing up behind the Iron Curtain (edition 2007)

by Peter Sís

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82811110,928 (4.12)83
Member:labfs39
Title:The wall : growing up behind the Iron Curtain
Authors:Peter Sís
Info:New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.
Collections:Read but unowned, East European
Rating:****
Tags:nonfiction, memoir, Czech

Work details

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis

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English (110)  Danish (1)  English (111)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
This informational children’s Sibert honor book in 2008 is a true account of the author’s experience growing up in a Communist country during the Cold War. Peter Sis has written several interesting biographies, this was his first autobiographical book. This memoir expresses his experiences as an artist wanting more, dreams and aspirations of leaving Communist Czechoslovakia and coming to America. While the book wrangles with adult themes and events, it explores a coming of age story in a straightforward, lyrical and honest way that will appeal to middle grade and above readers. ( )
  TLDennis | Jul 27, 2016 |
Sis gives his vision into what it was like to grow up in Soviet controlled Czechoslovakia through his drawings, words and journal entries. His drawings show the complexity of having dreams that were in conflict with the compulsory orders of the Communist party. ( )
  trippd | Jul 10, 2016 |
REVIEW:
The author, Peter Sis, who as long as he can remember, has been an artist, grew up behind the Berlin Wall. In this book, he shares his childhood through pictures and minimal text. On the bottom of each page is the story line, explaining Peter's propensity to draw everything he sees. Above, a collage of pictures and historical captions detail the progression of the war and the censorship enforced by the Soviets. In addition, Peter also includes a few pages containing his own personal diaries that help explain the context of the time period. Later on in the book, Peter writes that he loved art, and drew everything around him because it allowed him to dream, when in reality, his dreams were stifled until the day the wall fell down in 1989. An introduction and afterword are also included to provide a fuller picture of the context.

The literary element of style is emphasized in this book because of the way the author artfully and carefully combines pictures and text to tell the story. Some pages are full-blown illustrations, while others are a series of photos that come together as one. Text is small, but still crucial to the story; however, I think the most powerful part is the illustrations. As a result, I think this a great informational book because it presents historical information and facts in an engaging and interesting way. He combines memory and history into one account.

MEDIA: genuine photos and artwork, journals, colored pencil, pen, paint
The illustrations are presented in a variety of ways and formats, making each page turn engaging.

GENRE: Informational/Autobiography
This book is informational because it explains the progression of life behind the Berlin Wall and the context surrounding that time period. In addition, it provides factual details. It is also an autobiography because the author, Peter Sis, details his childhood behind the Berlin Wall. He gives a first-hand account, as well as includes snippets of his journals.

USES:
(1) One of my favorite pages is an illustration that covers two pages. On the top is the West of the Berlin Wall and the bottom is the East of the wall. The West is depicted with the happy color of orange and is scattered with words such as truth, freedom, virtue, and spirit, while the East is brown and gray and scattered with words such as terror, stupidity, lies, and corruption. Students could discuss the meaning behind the words on each side and explain how they fit each side.
(2) This book could be used in junction with the CCSS about how pictures play a role in telling a story. Each page provokes insightful observation and thinking, so I think it would be interesting to pick a few after I read the story and have the students discuss the impact of that particular illustration.
(3) This book can also be used to develop critical literacy. Students can discuss the power of censorship and what that does to us. How did Peter respond? They can also discuss concepts such as freedom, truth, and happiness.

AGE-APPROPRIATENESS: Older elementary ( )
  akgingerich | Apr 13, 2016 |
In my opinion this a great book to read. The illustrations in this biography helped gain a better understanding of the story. The use of color is very limited in the story because the minimal color represents the hope that Peter Sis has in becoming free. Also the author embedded real photos from his childhood that showed us how a child looked and felt during the Cold War. Also the language of the story was very clear and precise. For example, “He dreamed of being free. Wild dreams…Sometimes dreams come true.” Peter Sis wanted the freedom to draw whatever he liked without the government controlling him. This story shows the reader how the Cold War was a very tough time for children and their families that were governed by Communism. ( )
  eranda2 | Mar 1, 2016 |
This book gives a fascinating glimpse into what life was like for a child growing up behind the "Iron Curtain" in Czechoslovakia. I personally don't know a lot about the history of this time or place, so for me it was interesting to learn about it. I was also interesting to read Sis's unique perspective as an artist who slowly began to rebel against what he was being told.

Curricular connections: could be used in a unit about the Soviet Union, the Cold War, or the Iron Curtain. It is rich enough and goes into enough depth that it could be used with students from about Grade 5 and up. ( )
  linnea_simon | Feb 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices 2008)
Renowned author and illustrator Peter Sís’ brilliant autobiographical exploration of the creative spirit offers his trademark blend of intricate visual images and narrative. Sís was born in Communist-controlled Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1949 and displayed artistic interests from very early on. His talents were indulged and encouraged within his home. At the same time, creativity and freedom of thought were being repressed in his school and throughout his homeland as the Iron Curtain rose and the Cold War escalated. Sís beautifully outlines the tension between socio-political repression and creativity through journal excerpts, actual drawings from his developing years as an artist, and hauntingly complex images outlining the historical context of turbulent times in Eastern Europe. Each image underscores how he questioned the world around him as a developing child and adolescent, especially as news of Western popular culture filtered through the curtain. Creative expression and opportunity exploded for the author in the spring of 1968, only to be crushed quickly by the totalitarian strong arm. Sís was able to hold on to his dreams, however, fueled by his indomitable spirit and the force of his own imagination. CCBC Category: Historical People, Places, and Events. 2007, Frances Foster Books / Farrar Straus and Giroux, 48 pages, $18.00. Age 9 and older.

added by kthomp25 | editCCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices 2008) (Apr 23, 2010)
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
As long as he could remember, he had loved to draw.
Quotations
I find it difficult to explain my childhood; it's hard to put it into words, and since I have always drawn everything, I have tried to draw my life-before America-for them.
p. 47
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374347018, Hardcover)

A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER
 
“I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side—the Communist side—of the Iron Curtain.” Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sís shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe. But adolescence brought questions. Cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Sís learned about beat poetry, rock ’n’ roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow long, secretly read banned books, and joined a rock band. Then came the Prague Spring of 1968, and for a teenager who wanted to see the world and meet the Beatles, this was a magical time. It was short-lived, however, brought to a sudden and brutal end by the Soviet-led invasion. But this brief flowering had provided a glimpse of new possibilities—creativity could be discouraged but not easily killed.
 
By joining memory and history, Sís takes us on his extraordinary journey: from infant with paintbrush in hand to young man borne aloft by the wings of his art.
 
The Wall is a 2007 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, a 2008 Caldecott Honor Book, a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year, the winner of the 2008 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, and a nominee for the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:39 -0400)

I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side - the Communist side - of the Iron Curtain. Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sis shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe. But adolescence brought questions. Cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Si;s learned about beat poetry, rock 'n' roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow long, secretly read banned books, and joined a rock band. Then came the Prague Spring of 1968, and for a teenager who wanted to see the world and meet the Beatles, this was a magical time. It was short-lived, however, brought to a sudden and brutal end by the Soviet-led invasion. But this brief flowering had provided a glimpse of new possibilities - creativity could be discouraged but not easily killed.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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