REVIEW: Wall by Tom Clohosy Cole

A children's book with a new perspective on history 

Wall: one boy's determination to reunite his family

Back in 1961, a wall went up that separated a nation and split opinion across the world. The Berlin Wall divided the city in two – one half occupied by the Soviet Union, the other by combined forces from France, the UK and the US – dividing some families in a cruel and arbitrary way, and becoming a potent symbol of the Cold War between East and West.

So, politics is not usually the stuff of great children's picture books, you might think. Well maybe not. Tom Clohosy Cole's Wall tells a simple and sparse personal tale of a family divided by the wall, and a son who is determined that nothing will prevent him from seeing and holding his father again. Unlike the majority of childrens' books, these illustrations are often dark, desperate and full of danger; there's risk and regret in these wonderful images, but there's no place for sentimentality in these pages, either. What Clohosy Cole has produced is a powerful and inspiring piece of work that reminds us of an era in our not-too-distant past when politics had the power to place people on either side of a wall and leave them to get on with their lives. For older children, this book will provoke all kinds of discussions, while younger kids will still be drawn in by the warmth and determination of the beautifully crafted story. Important stuff. Templar, 6+

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