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

by Peter Sís

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7088413,345 (4.14)80
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

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

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Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
The Wall is a wonderful memoir of Peter Sis' life growing up in Czechoslovakia during Communist rule after World War II. The illustrations are beautifully crafted and document his life behind the Iron Curtain. I found the book informative and enlightening. The few words on each page are carefully chosen and the illustrations do more to tell the story than the words. This is a wonderful book to be shared with students from upper elementary through high school. ( )
  SuPendleton | Jun 10, 2014 |
This story is portrayed by the author of his life growing up behind the iron curtain. The dialog tells of the history, culture and ways of life while growing up in a communist country.
  laurlou | Jun 9, 2014 |
I think this would be an interesting book to let middle schoolers read. The drawings and journal writing would hold their interest. The history of the Iron Curtain would be intriguing, as well as all of the freedom that the collapse of the wall brought.
  charlottestudent | Jun 8, 2014 |
"The Wall" is an incredible picture book that tells the story of a boy growing on the communist side of the Iron Curtain. While the details closely resemble the events of author Peter Sis' life, the voice that speaks represents the experience of the millions of people who resided in the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. The book itself is comprised of illustrations, descriptive text, and excerpts from Sis' journal entries (spanning from 1954 to 1977).

The usage of color in the "The Wall" is highly effective. The illustrations are completely black and white, with the exception of a vivid red, which is used to represent the communist influence. As the story progresses, small bursts of other colors begin to appear, representing the western influence. At first, these colors only appear in the boys drawings, but as figurative holes are punched through the wall, the colors begin to shine more frequently and more vividly.

Aside from simply providing a first person narrative of life on the "other side" of the wall, the author's journals give us a window into the amount of hope that was provided to him via western popular culture. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Harlem Globetrotters, Allen Ginsberg, Louis Armstrong, long hair, tie-dye -- all of these western symbols were a vehicle to another existence; an existence filled with expression, inspiration, equality, and truth. It was also fascinating to read about Sis' work as an animator/illustrator and the "science" he employed to navigate the censors. The strategy, as he describes, was to give them something obvious that needed to be changed (a big church, etc.) and hope that they would not notice the "smaller, important things."

At the end of the book, the boy dreams of combining all of his drawings to create colorful wings that he will use to fly over the wall. It is a striking image, and one that beautifully ties the entire book together. I was 7 years old when the Berlin Wall came down, and I remember my parents watching a television broadcast of the event. I certainly did not understand the dynamics of the situation then, and sadly, 25 years later my understanding is still relatively limited. Books like "The Wall" are important because they spark interest. The Cold War is something that had completely dropped off my radar, but thanks to this little book, it is back on. I would love to read more, or even simply have a conversation with somebody about the events. Books like "The Wall" give you that little nudge you need to find out more, and that path can lead to a whole new world of understanding. ( )
  JeffCarver | Mar 15, 2014 |
This book was fabulous. It was a perfect way to teach kids about the former Soviet Union and really about being oppressed. How to recognize oppression. The drawings were perfect. They weren't realistic, which was good because these were his memories. The black and white with the threatening red was a great way to emphasize fear. The splashes of bright color represented his freedom. A very well thought out and executed book.
The writing was well done as well. The words weren't too easy or too hard. The journal entries were the perfect way to tie everything together and to get a true sense of his feelings of such a horrible era in Eastern Europe. I would absolutely present this to my class, but maybe 3-5th grades. It would also be a great book to teach art, The symbolism in color and how they work together to create emotions. ( )
  Jill.Haner | Feb 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:41 -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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