Tom Clohosy Cole. Candlewick/Templar, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7560-8
The son of a family separated by the Berlin Wall narrates Cole’s (Space Race) story. His father is in the West, while the boy, his mother, and his younger sister are trapped in the East: “I worried he was lonely, but Mom said life was better over there.” The wall dominates the lives of the East German inhabitants. Escape attempts are common; ordinary citizens cheer them on. Cole’s silk screen–like digital artwork conveys this reality with unusual thoughtfulness and complexity. The images focus on the cheerless Iron Curtain landscape, gloomy expanses punctuated by intrusive beams of light, and each contains a moment of contrast or surprise. The boy succeeds in digging a tunnel to the West, bringing his mother and sister to safety, their lives spared at one point by a kindly guard (“He said nothing should come between a father and his family”). Doll-like figures temper the story’s more difficult episodes, yet Cole never hides the terror and injustice of life under totalitarian government. A brief note discusses the building of the Berlin Wall, but not Cold War politics; additional context-setting will help. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/22/2014
Release date: 10/14/2014
Genre: Children's
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