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The Wall (Reading Rainbow Books) Paperback – August 24, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
A boy travels to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with his father to seek out his grandfather's name. The well-matched text and illustrations are soft but stirring. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4-- A boy and his father have come to the Vietnam War Memorial to look for the boy's grandfather's name among those who were killed in the war. They find his name surrounded, but far from lost, in the rows of print that "march side by side, like rows of soldiers." "I'm proud that your grandfather's name is on this wall," says the boy's father. The boy agrees, adding, "but I'd rather have my grandpa here." Before this powerful book is half finished, readers will be deeply moved. Bunting's understated prose captures the meaning of the memorial to the American people, especially to those who lost loved ones, without being maudlin or heavy-handed. Himler's gauzy watercolors are a perfect accompaniment: impressionistic enough for the characters to appear as everymen. A sensitive and moving picture book, and a great discussion book as well. --Catherine vanSonnenberg, San Diego Public Library, CA
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I've been there and wondered how the pair would depict the memorial. What they put on paper is exactly what happens at the Wall, exactly! To make the experience wide-eyed and innocent, the author relays the story through this little boy's perspective. He's been prepared: he knows they have come to locate grandfather's name as one of 58,000 killed and missing in action.
Bunting chooses to by-pass the location catalog and simply use 1967, the year Grandfather died in the war. Once they find his name, Dad takes out paper to use with pencil to rub his father's name as a keepsake. They leave a picture of the grandson below the deceased soldier's name. The boy has already explored some of the items that relatives and friends leave at the base of the Wall.
The pair encounter four types of visitors: an elderly couple obviously visiting their son's name, a grandfather and grandson visiting the soldier-dad's name, and a group of girls on a field trip. Their behavior is proper, but not reflective of loss such as the others experience. The last visitor becomes the most deeply moving encounter. A man in a wheelchair with a blanket folded over where his legs should have been, an obvious veteran with a decorated ribbon, and obviously a Vietnam vet, rolls in. It is a chance meeting the boy will never forget.
When they leave, the boy is sad, but wiser. He's been to the memorial erected in his grandfather's honor, as well as the 58,000 companions. He would like a grandpa as the other boy had, but he is proud to know his grandfather served his country.
As an interesting side note, the father-son duo look to be Native American in an honorable tribute to an under-recognized minority who also participated in this war.
Not one sentence of the story is overstated, not one illustration false. Script and art work in tandem in presenting a quiet little story concerning an utterly cosmic wound in the American psyche.