Books Early Readers Genre Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Voices From The Fringe: Social Justice

Using A Wall As A Blank Canvas To Build (Rather Than Divide A) Community

... in "Hey, Wall!" by Susan Verde and John Parra

Myra here.

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.

This will be a great book to pair with Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell and illustrated by Rafael Lopez (Amazon | Book Depository) reviewed here.

#ReadIntl2020 Update: John Parra is POC.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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