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The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain (2007)

by Peter Sís

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1,20014416,345 (4.14)95
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)
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» See also 95 mentions

English (143)  Danish (1)  All languages (144)
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I think this one falls in the category of “children’s books that aren’t actually written for children” - it assumes a lot of prior knowledge of the Cold War that most kids won’t have, the vocabulary would be frustrating to many kids, and it is very ideologically heavy-handed. That said, there definitely are history enthusiasts among our young readers that would be familiar enough with the subject matter to pick up what Sis is trying to do with this story, so I’d recommend it to that subgroup, but don’t have this be their intro to the Cold War.
  sloth852 | Apr 8, 2024 |
A good-looking book, but I thought the multiple narrative styles made the reading of it disjointed. ( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
Really good, but grim. Barely appropriate for children. Contains some photos as well as the usual illustrations. ( )
  themulhern | Nov 18, 2023 |
I read this book for background information for the book I am writing. I found it a simple and useful look at socialism and communism. ( )
  skstiles612 | Jul 28, 2023 |
A serious and distressing subject described with sensitivity and real life experience.
Some death is mentioned but it is not graphic.
  FamiliesUnitedLL | May 15, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 143 (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.
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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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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.

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