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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 24 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 44 reviews
on December 28, 2013
The book is simple yet very powerful. I am a daughter of a political prisoner (10 years) from communist Cuba. I purchased this book for my kids to have a better understanding of what a bad and oppressive government is like and where part of their history comes from. People telling on one another, phone conversations and letters being surveillance was part of what both my parents had to endure. Just like in the story my parents as teenagers were sent away from home and were forced for several months to go to the fields and do labor work for free . My mother was persecuted for practicing her faith because like in the book religion was not tolerated. My brother was harassed (by the school staff who encouraged the children to do the same) because of his faith and because of his father's incarceration. The story also writes how the people had to make lines to get food. This is also another sad reality. My mom had to stand in line for hours out in the sun to get her family's portion of rationed food. Sometimes when her turn came there was no food left to receive. I will never forget as a young child how my mother sobbed in our first visit to an American supermarket. She couldn't believe so much food was available while people in her country go hungry. She spent the first few years hoarding food and things like soap and shampoos for fear that it could be hard to find later. When I read this book for the first time I couldn't help and shed a few tears because everything that I heard growing up (I was 2 years when my family arrived to America with a political asylum visa) was written there in those pages along with large drawn illustrations. America is indeed an awesome country and do not allow anyone to convince you otherwise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVED the BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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on January 18, 2008
This wonderful book manages to be both creative and insightful, documenting life behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War in words and graphic design. Peter Sis's use of color in his intricate illustrations highlights and enhances the matter-of-fact language of his text. He has managed to create a journal, biography, and social/historical commentary that is fascinating reading for older children and adults alike.
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on February 15, 2014
This book is simply fantastic.

For anyone who wants to know what life was really like growing up behind the iron curtain in general, or more specifically in Czechoslovakia.

For anyone who wants their kids to know what communism really means.

For anyone who enjoys wonderfully perceptive drawings, however crude or complex, with minimal, but telling text.

For anyone who grew up in the 50s-70s who knew something about what was happening in eastern Europe then, but did/does not quite know for sure.

For anyone who wants to know how the Soviet Union kept control of this country, and several others for 40 years, but then lost it.

For anyone who thinks socialism works, or is the wave of the future or is inevitable.

I recommend this book for you. Buy it, read it (in about 30-60 minutes), discuss it with anyone, give a copy to a friend and cherish it. It is brilliant.
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on October 8, 2016
I love the print version of this book, but found the electronic version difficult to navigate. There were lots of sizing issues and the zoom feature made it difficult to keep the big picture while also being able to see. If you did not use the zoom, you couldn't see anything. Meanwhile, the book itself is amazing. There are several great interviews of Peter Sis online and I highly recommend them also.
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on September 18, 2007
This is a lovely book. The art work is so well done, and the story it tells really rings true. I sent it to my friends who left Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring and they were delighted with it. They certainly identified with all of it! Highly recommended.
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on April 13, 2015
Absolutely, perfect description and illustration of what it meant to grow up in Communist Czechoslovakia. It is not overly dramatic or sensational. It gives the reader a straight forward understanding of the situations faced by the people of that country during those times. It is a picture book that is meant for adults as well as older children.
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on August 30, 2014
I bought this book for a teaching unit on Eastern Europe. It met all expectations. The reader gets a real sense of life under Communist rule in a way that younger (middle school/high school) students can relate to.
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on September 5, 2009
The Wall is an autobiographical graphic novel/kids book about Peter Sis's life in Czechoslovakia during World War II. As a child, Peter loved to draw. As the book states, he drew shapes and people as a kid, and then tanks and wars as he got older, because that's what he was exposed to. The book follows his life from innocent child to Beatles obsessed teen who had to make his own instruments because real ones were banned. And all the while he drew, what he was allowed to in person, and what he wanted to in private. He kept drawing because it's what inspired him and what took him away from the life he was experiencing. The book ends epically on November 9th, with Peter imagining ways to get away and then realizing that he could as he watched the Berlin Wall fall.

This is the first book (that isn't a text book) that I read for grad school and I found it incredibly interesting. Peter Sis does an amazing job at telling his heartbreaking story of growing up in a war torn country. Each page is illustrated with large images and narrated with quick sentences here and there. Each one meaningful and descriptive. Sliced within the book are excerpts from his childhood journals. I loved this idea because it showed his innocence throughout the whole situation. While some entries dealt with his uncle being imprisoned, others discussed his desire to be in a rock band and move to London. Even though he was going through a war, he was still a child and then a teenager. The country couldn't take that away from him.

If you weren't reading the words, you'd think it was a normal kid's book. Peter Sis did an amazing job at illustrating the entire book, using hopeful and colorful images on some pages, and bleak black and white drawings on others to illuminate the difference between the real from what he, in his mind, wanted. What I found most haunting, and realistic about the images was the presence of pigs dressed as cops in every picture, showing how soldiers were always watching.

Two page specifically spoke to me. "Everyone wanted to draw. They painted a wall filled with their dreams..." the first page states. Above those words are pictures of people grafting the side of a building. The pictures are of suns and peace signs and guitars and flamingos. The next page shows the soldiers washing off the painting, and then the people re-painting it. Over and over, each strip repeats it. "...and repainted it again and again." They never gave up.

I thought this was a brilliant way to tell the story of his childhood. In the afterward, Peter states why he decided to create the book the way he did. After his children asked "How did you decide to settle here in America?" he decided to tell them through the book. "...it's hard to put it into words," he states, "and since I have always drawn everything, I have tried to draw my life-before America-for them. Any resemblance to the story in this book is intentional."
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on March 4, 2008
What a wonderful find this was! Meticulously drawn expose of life behind the iron curtain and the nature of the human spirit. A gem of a book and the grandchildren aren't getting their stickies on this!
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on April 28, 2016
Adults tend to believe that political and military decisions begin and end with them. Sis's book echos what is learned in childhood continues on for generations.
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