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

by Peter Sís

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79710511,505 (4.12)81
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 Sis

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English (104)  Danish (1)  All languages (105)
Showing 1-5 of 104 (next | show all)
I didn't know until I started reading that this book was autobiographical. I really liked his biographies of Galileo and Darwin, so I've been looking up all his other works. His use of illustrations to describe what life was like behind the Iron Curtain is really fantastic. ( )
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
The art and stories of Peter Sis are mesmerizing and magical. In The Wall, I love the way he uses detailed images of people, maps, highlights of red to denote the communist presence, photographs, and excerpts from his journals that tell of his desire to become free and live in America. I am a big fan of Sis, and this story is particularly meaningful as it tells his own personal story.

Curricular connections: Aspects of history and world geography that may not be known to elementary and middle school students today could be explored through Sis's multi-faceted work. Studying the Cold War likely wouldn't occur until at least eighth grade, but concepts could still be explored earlier. I can envision a research project for middle school students involving the idea of censorship, one that would culminate in a persuasive written piece. ( )
  SueStolp | Jan 31, 2016 |
A memoir in which the author (an artist) reflects on his life (from birth to adulthood) "behind the Iron Curtain." It's in the format of a simple children's picture book in the way it's narrated at the bottom of the pages, illustrated with his own drawings, plus pages that are scrapbook style, highlighting his own journal entries or giving a brief explanation of the socio-economic situation.

I did learn a lot more about life in Czeckloslovakia during this time than I had previously considered or understood, and I liked it. While it did not move me in the way some memoirs do, it was an easy and egaging way to learn a bit of history, the factual part of it as well as how political events actually impacted the lives of citizens. It did strike me as amazing and ironic that the Soviet Union was part of the force that helped stop Nazi Germany's growth, but then did the exact same thing to their own people. I hadn't really understood that before!

It's interesting to imagine the Beatles as heroes.

I'm not sure how much my kids will understand this book--the vocabulary can be challenging for the average middle-schooler, and they really have to care about and understand the concepts of socialism and indoctrination.

The drawings that depict the teenagers "painting their dreams" on the wall, the guards painting white over it, and the teens repeating over and over again, getting more sneaky every time, was empowering.

( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
This amazing book - equal parts journal, biography, and social/historical commentary and combining elements of picture books and graphic novels - manages to be creative, moving and insightful as it documents the author’s childhood growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. Suitable for middle and high school students and adults, this book does a nice job of contextualizing important historical events as they impact the daily lives of everyday people. The use of color in "The Wall" is highly effective; 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.
  cameroneshaw | Aug 9, 2015 |
At first The Wall, a picture book, appears to be geared toward a younger audience, but you quickly realize this book is really more appropriate for middle school and higher due to the complexity and vocabulary used. Though each page uses simple writing, the captions for the pictures which are numerous tell a much more complex story. The book tells of a boy who grows up in Czechoslovakia when it was a socialist society under the Soviet Union’s rule. This would be a terrific book to use to introduce students to this part of history. ( )
  elmisner | Jul 22, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 104 (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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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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