Hey, Wall” A Story of Art and Community
Susan Verde, Author
John Parra, Illustrator
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, Fiction, Sep. 4, 2018
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes: Walls, Kids making a difference, Street art, Neighborhoods, Community Life
Opening: Hey Wall! You are BIG! A city block BIG. My city block.
A boy strolls past an abandoned city wall on his way to school. It is blue, full of cracks and ugly. He calls out “Hey, Wall!” Near the wall is a lively neighborhood busy with life, music, chatter, and laughter. He stares at the empty wall until one day he decides to take action. He gathers his pencils, paint and decides to make the wall special. The boy enlists the support of his friends, family and neighbors. Young and old work together to breathe life back into the wall. They bring their sketches, memories and imaginations to create something new on this big blank canvas. How will they transform their wall?
Why I like this book:
Susan Verde has written an inspiring story that empowers kids to use their voices when they see how they can make a difference in their community. The story also celebrates the life of this busy town and how coming together to support each other, boosts community pride and relationships. It also shows that walls aren’t dividers, but can bring people together to serve a greater cause.
I especially like Verde’s use of free verse in this urban setting. It works well with the folksy artwork of John Parra. His colorful acrylic illustrations really make this story shine. The final page reveals the wall’s transformation and how it represents everything special to the community. This is an excellent classroom read-aloud and discussion book. It will easily support art school curriculums and encourage creativity.
Make sure you check out the author and illustrator endpapers, because they give insight into the inspiration behind this story and information about the history street art. Visit Susan Verde and John Parra at their websites.
Resources: Use this book to encourage kids to think about ways they can help their community. There may not be an empty wall, but teachers can encourage students to work together to make a paper mural that represents the personality of their classroom.
Susan Verde’s first picture book, The Museum, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year. Her other books include You and Me, I Am Yoga, The Water Princess, I Am Peace, and Rock and Roll Soul all illustrated by Peter H Reynolds; as well as My Kicks illustrated by Katie Kath; and Hey, Wall illustrated by John Parra. Susan is a former elementary school teacher with a Master’s degree in reading remediation. In addition to writing books Susan teaches yoga and mindfulness to kids (and adults) of all ages. She lives in East Hampton, New York, with her three children.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Reviewed from Library copy.