Sunday, February 24, 2013

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

Peter Sis grew up in communist Czechoslovakia under the watchful eye of the secret police during the Cold War. Under communism, Peter grew up a typical, brainwashed child of the Soviet regime. But as he grew older and art and western culture began to seep into his belief system, he realized that life under communist rule was not the ideal that the Soviet puppet masters made it out to be.

As an artist, Sis was constantly under suspicion from the secret police and his life in Prague was a discontented one. This book is the story of an artist's life behind the Iron Curtain.

Let me start off by saying right away that this is not your typical children's picture book. In fact, The Wall is a perfect example of why you can't assume that all picture books are for young children. There is a great deal of complexity going on with the text and illustrations that I would be so bold as to say that this book is geared more for high school, but definitely no earlier than middle school.

As a teacher, when I read a book like this, I can't help but get excited at the idea of using it in my classroom to teach text complexity. So many people are under the mistaken presumption that classic novels are the only texts that can show students any sort of sophistication and complexity that I wish more people would look to picture books. I highly recommend The Wall if you teach English or social studies in a middle school or high school setting. You will be surprised at the wealth of lessons your can pull from this text. If  you're a teacher in desperate need to stop using boring textbooks and start finding real texts full of voice (which, let's face it, we should ALL be that teacher!) then get yourself a copy of The Wall today!

 The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis
Published: August 21, 2007
Publisher: Ferrar, Straus, and Giroux
Pages: 56
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Audience: Middle School/High School
Disclosure: Purchased Copy

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