WALLS written by Brad Holdgrafer, illustrated by Jay Cover
Review Copy from Princeton Architectural Press
With a simple and straightforward message, Walls is a timely, rhyming picture book that can be a great conversation starter. I work in a public school less that sixty miles from our border with Mexico where the majority of my students are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Almost all of them are aware of our current president's anti-immigrant agenda and plans to build a border wall. They definitely don't need a book to tell them that this kind of wall is not a good thing, but they do need to know that the adults around them (hopefully) think the same. That's what a book like Walls does for my students. And, for older students, Walls is a great conversation starter.
After seeing illustrations that Cover created during the Brexit vote, Holdgrafer reached out with his idea for the book and Cover was on board immediately. Of Walls, Cover says, "All good art is an antidote to ill feeling. The inspiration came from a fairly sad place, but was what we felt a positive response."
Walls begins with quatrains that look at walls that are necessary, important and helpful. From walls that keep animals safe to walls that are made for sports and hanging and creating art to walls that give shelter to humans and even mice - there is a playful mouse that follows the main character (gender neutral in green pants and a white top) throughout the book. But, there are also walls that, "cast shadows over all." Walls keep you from hearing a friend call, from meeting new people. They are, "unfriendly, and perhaps even rude." Walls ends with an exuberant exhortation to come together and break the walls down because, "Different kinds of people, / all working together. Now, that's the sort of thinking / that makes the world better."