Walls surround us. Walls can divide as well as protect; include and also exclude.
In Holdgrafer’s rhyming text and Cover’s minimalist illustrations, an unnamed person takes readers through the pages examining the different kinds of walls we encounter in the world. There are walls that keep animals safe, walls used for sport—and walls meant to exclude. While young children will likely view this last wall quite literally, adults can’t miss the greater symbolism of it. Clear, simple line drawings with blocks of color convey some of what the text cannot and provide readers an array of genders and races (and a little mouse, which kids will enjoy finding on each page). In one particularly effective illustration, the protagonist, who has beige skin and black hair, stands glumly propped up against the wall on one side, while on the other stand or sit a white person, a black person, and a brown person wearing hijab. The text exhorts readers to chant, “THESE ARE THE WALLS WE LIKE LEAST OF ALL!” and depicts the wall crumbling under the force of combined voices. Although well-intended, the book’s heavy-handed treatment of a noble message—the need to tear down walls—obscures it with clumsy writing and the occasional awkward rhyme: “Different kinds of people, / all working together. // Now, that’s the sort of thinking / that makes the world better.”
A positive message with a modest execution. (Picture book. 4-8)