The Wall by Tom Clohosy Cole
  

Synopsis

The Wall by Tom Clohosy Cole

This spectacular book follows one boy's struggle to reunite his family from the two sides of the Berlin Wall. Although based around true stories, the wall is symbolic of separations around the world, whether it be between whole communities or two individuals. Powerful illustrations teamed with an emotive storyline makes this an impressive debut picture book.

Reviews

British illustrator Cole's life-affirming debut for children marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A boy narrates this poignant account of a family divided by the towering wall. My mom said that while the wall was being made, / our dad got stuck on the other side. // I worried he was lonely, / but Mom said life was better over there. // And we couldn't leave, anyway. The father's in West Berlin-free, yet consigned to life without his wife and children. The Eastern, Soviet-dominated occupation is conveyed in bleak, blue-black scenes dominated by guard towers, barbed wire and claustrophobic interiors. The boy dreams of Dad breaking through the wall and rescuing us. Dad appears as a savior, his muddy coat radiantly backlit, shards of wall and an open book at his feet. Understanding the unlikelihood of a family reunion, the boy nonetheless imagines all kinds of ways to get across. Some escapees breach the wall-some fail. Yet, if they do nothing, they might never find Dad. So I started digging. Mother, son and daughter, escaping toward the tunnel, are stopped by an ultimately sympathetic guard. In a dramatic denouement, the family finds Dad, just in time-he's digging his own tunnel east. Striking, expressionist graphics and a plain-spoken, minimalist text distinguish this stand-out. -- Kirkus Reviews With the building of the Berlin Wall, a family is torn in two and we follow one boy as he attempts to reunite with his father on the other side. Set against a backdrop of uncertainty and danger, will he be able to succeed where so many before him have failed? Based on true stories from those that lived through the division of Germany, Wall offers a poignant glimpse into the lives of those forced to suffer the consequences of war. With such a weighty subject matter to contend with it's remarkable how Wall's message is presented with such delicacy and understanding, without ever patronising its young readers. This is one of those rare picture books that extends beyond the confines of its covers, setting the course for further exploration and discourse between its readers; with this year marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall we can think of no finer picture book to help inspire young ones to discover more about the events that shaped the lives of so many. The minimalist narrative gives greater emphasis to the illustrations which are full of evocative imagery that is simultaneously striking and quietly beautiful. The tension of the situation is made all the more tangible thanks to Tom Clohosy Cole's artwork, where impending danger presented in swathes of darkness is subtly diffused by glimmers of light, and ultimately hope. This finely balanced contrast creates a book bursting with emotion; from beginning to end the reader shares in the young protagonist's optimism that life on the other side is not only better but obtainable. No better is this lightness of hope demonstrated than on the last page, though we shall leave that for you to discover for yourselves. Clohosy Cole's graphic approach not only gives this book a contemporary feel but helps bridge the division between content and understanding. His ability to communicate with children on their level is remarkable, though what's more remarkable is his ability to do so with such integrity as to never detract from the story's message. Wall has all the hallmarks of a timeless picture book; its message no doubt as relevant in the future as it is today. The fusion of history and narrative can be a fine line to tread but Wall does so with ease and style. We are reminded that picture books can be more than just 'nice

; they can inform us, they can tackle difficult subject matters and, ultimately, they can inspire us. Wall is a powerful book full of intelligent design and careful consideration. Such care and attention can only lead to one thing: a picture book that will be loved by all those who chance upon it. -- Lara The Illustrated Forest The hole dug in Tom Clohosy Cole 's worrying but ultimately reassuring Cold War story, Wall (Templar, 32 pages, $16.99), represents the yearning for connectedness between East and West Berlin. Published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, this striking and graphically dramatic picture book makes accessible to young children the concept behind the fortified barrier that divided the city for nearly three decades. And through the young boy who narrates, 5- to 9-year-olds may begin to grasp the human cost. My mom said that while the wall was being made, our dad got stuck on the other side, the child in communist East Berlin explains, adding: I worried he was lonely, but Mom said life was better over there. We see the father, bearded, sitting in a West Berlin park in the golden light of late afternoon. On the facing page, in the inky blues that predominate in these pages, the child sits at a bleak supper table with his mother and sister, an empty chair silently eloquent of the man they miss. So one day, the boy starts digging-and, because this is a children's picture book and not the tragic truth, his family escapes to the West even after they are apprehended, briefly but terrifyingly, by a border guard. The Wall Street Journal Today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a day that many of us remember vividly. Wall tells the story of a family torn apart when, overnight, the Wall is made, with the Father stranded in the West while the rest of the family remains in the Eastern block. Desperate to be reunited with his father, the little boy begins to dig a tunnel, but just as they are about to cross, the family are found out by a wandering soldier, who, eventually sympathetic to their plea, lets them through (this reminded me of the iconic photograph of the soldier jumping to the Western side). Wall is told in first person narrative through the eyes of a child, which is rather unusual for a picture book and allows the reader to delve deep into the story of this family, while bringing a certain sense of innocence to the tale. This is heightened by the minimalist text, which is straight to the point, as a child telling a story would be. Here, there are no politics of East versus West, just a tale of separation , longing and hope. This is echoed throughout in the artwork and the way Tom Clohosy Cole uses colours: the darkness and shadows brought by the erection of the wall, in contrast with the light and warm colours of the other side. Yet the final spread shows the opposite: Dad in the dark and the family in the light, emphasizing therefore that it is not which side of the Wall that you are that brings light, but being with your loved ones. Despite its non-political stance, there are still glimpses of the Berlin Wall's historical heritage within the pages, hinting at those who were shot while trying to cross, for example. This helps bring a good balance between reality and fiction. Wall is first and foremost a tale of hope, but it is important for those young readers learning about the Berlin Wall for the first time to know that not all were so lucky. Wall is a visually stunning picture book which is particularly good at demonstrating the power of images in making sense of difficult subjects. Though the ending might sound a bit too improbable to some, it is appropriate in the way that it expresses that anything can happen when there is hope. After all, the Wall did come down, eventually, thanks to the power of people, and does not take away from the evocative power of this picture book. -- Melanie McGilloway Library Mice Wall by Tom Clohosy Cole is a hard hitting, emotive story with illustrations and a colour palette to match. Overnight, a great wall went up, separating the city.Friends were divided.Lovers were parted. Families were separated. This book is immense. The history, the heart-wrenching tale, Tom's illustrative style, there is nothing to dislike about this book. I make no apologies for saying that I loved this when I first clapped eyes on it during my time at Templar Publishing and seeing the finished product in the flesh, it's even better still. A family is cruelly severed by the Berlin wall, as Dad gets stuck at the other side away from his partner and two children. The use of dense, dark colours flooding each page, further adds to the darkness of the story and highlights the gravity of the situation they face. The family are desperate to be reunited once again and the boy is determined to make it happen, despite the inherent danger. Refusing to give up on his Father, he tenaciously digs a tunnel to get to the other side of the wall. It's a treacherous walk to their escape route and they don't go undetected, but luckily a soldier takes pity on the boy's story and let's them go. But will they reach his Father in time? Reminiscent of a high-end graphic novel, beautifully bound with sturdy, ink-filled pages, let me tell you this book smells as good as it looks. -- Sarah Yewman picturebooksblogger Wall is a most interesting and unique subject matter for a picture book. It is concerns the Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to divide East and West Berlin, and its publication coincides with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. Although the book has minimal text the subject matter is definitely for Key Stage 2 pupils. The story focus is a family divided by the wall; the father in West Berlin and the mother and two children in bleak East Berlin. The narrator is the young son who decides he cannot bare being separated from his father, so he digs a tunnel to escape. The book makes mention of the different ways people tried to escape from the East; some more successful than others. This escape has a happy ending as the family are reunited. A real strength of the book are Tom Clohosy Cole's illustrations which are very atmospheric and hold a great deal of the narrative. The book would be an excellent text to explore issues related to divided families, migration and feelings of loss. -- Fiona Collins SchoolZone Author and illustrator Tom Clohosy Cole tells a poignant story about a little boy separated from his father by the Berlin Wall. The boy worries about his father on the other side of the great divide and dreams of the day when they will find each other again, all with the looming presence of the barb-wired Wall in the background of every page. Inspired by true stories of people being reunited with their loved ones, Cole writes from a little boy's perspective about hope and his courageous journey with his family to find his father. Although there are very few words in this picture book, the mood is captured with Cole's use of simple and dark illustrations that evoke a sense of sadness then eloquently juxtaposes these images with brighter pictures of the opposite side of the Wall representing the possibility of hope. You will need time to read these images as they truly capture the treacherous passage that many people risked their lives to take to find peace for themselves. Cole focalizes his illustrations from the perspective of the boy looking out into his world and suddenly manages to shift this perspective as if the reader is the boy looking out during one of the most dramatic scenes in the story. Will this family be unified at last? Find out when you read this story of enduring hope in a seemingly impossible situation. I strongly recommend this story for upper elementary students as they may relate to the idea of separation from family, but they may struggle with understanding the political themes within this story. -- Krishna Chavda The Deakin Review Beautifully told with incredibly stunning illustrations, this really is a truly important book. -- Laura Main Ellen Plugging Pictures

About the Author

Tom Clohosy Cole studied at Kingston University and now lives in London. He is the illustrator of Space Race, published in 2012, and he has also worked for the Sunday Times, the Wellcome Trust, Virgin Media, Sony and Pan Macmillan. He is the author of and illustrator of The Wall, which tells one boy's story of reuniting his family in the shadow of the Berlin Wall, and The Red Prince, written by Charlie Roscoe.

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Other Formats

Book Info

Format

Hardback
32 pages

Author

Tom Clohosy Cole
More books by Tom Clohosy Cole

Publisher

Publication date

1st October 2014

ISBN

9781783700776


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