"The best children's stories are wisdom dipped in art and words." -Peter Reynolds

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Wall

The Wall by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler was published in 1990 by Clarion Books. The story follows a little boy and his father who have come to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington D.C. The story is narrated by the boy and he says, "This is the wall, my grandfather's wall. On it are the names of those killed in a war, long ago."They have traveled far and begin searching for his grandfather's name on the wall. While they are searching, the boy notices a few different people. A veteran with no legs in his uniform, an elderly couple crying, a boy with his Grandpa, a class of young, noisy girls. He also notices all the gifts left behind alongside the wall. His father finds the name and uses a paper and pencil to get a rubbing of it. Then he switches out the paper for a picture of the boy from his wallet. The boy leaves his picture under his grandfather's name as a gift and the two walk away.

The illustrations are beautifully realistic with shades of gray, blue, and brown mostly. The wall is always depicted as very vast and almost in a dream like state to help portray the seriousness of the topic. I love the use of shadowing in the illustrations which make the text feel very sad and almost spooky. All of the illustrations are full bleed as we are thrown into the story to experience the deep sadness and pride of this family.

This historical fiction text is extremely touching. The final page is a note from Bunting in which she explains the meaning of the wall to young readers. This is a text that I would love to share with young readers if they are reading for it. Bunting does a beautiful job portraying the impact the Vietnam War has had on the world and their families.

My favorite part of the text is the very end. The father is being positive and saying he's proud that grandfather's name is on this wall and the boy agrees. But then the boy gets very honest and remembers the boy and his grandfather he saw earlier. "But I'd rather have my grandpa here, taking me to the river, telling me to button my jacket because it's cold. I'd rather have him here." I love this part because Bunting exhibits truth in spite of tragedy. Yes, of course they are proud of Grandfather and his greatest sacrifice for our country. But at the end of the day, they still would rather have him here. Wouldn't we all?

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