Hey Wall! A Story Of Art And Community [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Susan Verde Illustrated by John Parra
Published by Simon Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books (2018)
ISBN: 1481453130 (ISBN13: 9781481453134) Borrowed from NLB Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
Walls are often depicted as negative things. They are either an obstruction to something else, a force that divides one thing from another, or an unsightly block that occupies space. Fairly recently, it has also been largely political – with all this rhetoric about erecting walls to effectively (and arbitrarily) keep out certain groups of people out of a misguided attempt to “protect” a country’s resources or its people.
In this story, a young boy decides to transform this blank and empty wall that has largely been ignored or regarded as a waste of space – to something that reflects the identity of the people that inhabits this communal space.
I like how this boy took it upon himself to establish ownership of this wall – and rallied the entire community to realize his vision – and ensure that the wall represents who they are as a people. I especially enjoyed reading the Author and Illustrator’s notes at the end of the book. As the Author noted:
Walls often separate and divide. When neglected they can appear lonely and sad, but art and artists have the power to change that. A blank wall can become a canvas that unites and transforms neighborhoods and communities. It can become a place for messages of hope and pride, filled with emotion and personality. Street art can make a wall come alive.
#ReadIntl2020 Update: John Parra is POC.