A Blog of Children's Literature

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain March 21, 2011

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron CurtainThe Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Biography, 56 pages

In this historical memoir, Peter Sis shares a boy’s colorful view of the world in a black and Communist red society. With an introduction that deftly shapes Czechoslovakia’s past, Sis describes how eastern Europe came under Soviet control and how the Cold War began, drawing the setting for his fortified childhood behind the Iron Curtain for readers who didn’t experience this time in world history. In his comic-like style, Sis draws his life in artistic representation that emphasizes the red totalitarian regime and its compulsory demands and restrictions in side captions. Secret police are cast as pigs always nosing through the lives and business of everyday people who were often prohibited from finding joy and solace in artistic expression. Sis’ metaphorical portrayal of himself, as a black and white character always holding the only images of color other than red, shows he was different, learning to want more than Soviet rule could provide or keep from him. Interspersed within the historical black and red accounts, Sis shares journal entries, art work, and primary documents from his childhood that show an ever-growing awareness of a colorful world past the wall. In beautiful detail, Sis draws the history and evokes the emotions that encouraged him to rebel and become an artist, rock ’n’ roll lover, and film creator. With an excellent autobiographical spin, The Wall is a great read for middle school or high school students studying the Cold War and world history through the later half of the 20th century.


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