Hey, Wall: A Story of Art and Community

Susan Verde, illus. by John Parra. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5314-1
The wall of the title belongs to a city building, its expanse broken only by a straggling vine, some graffiti, and a torn poster for some long-ago event. A boy addresses it: “Maybe once you were full of style,/ but no one has taken care of you./ You are nothing to look at.” In textural, mural-like paintings by Parra (Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos), friendly-looking, folk-art-style children play on matte pages. Though the landscape is bleak (“We cheer for the tiny flowers pushing through the cracks in the sidewalk”), the neighborhood’s families—of all colors—eat, dance, and laugh together (“there is love; there is joy”). The boy realizes that if something is to be done about the wall’s uncared-for expanse, it’s up to him: “I’ve got my pencil,/ I’ve got my paints,/ I’ve got my dreams.” The boy organizes his neighbors, and with paint, ladders, and smiles, they create a beautiful mural. This story of urban renewal sends a welcome double message by Verde (The Water Princess): neighbors and neighborhoods are more than the way they look, and ordinary people can band together to transform big things. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Erica Rand Silverman, Sterling Lord Literistic. Illustrator’s agents: Adriana Dominguez and Stefanie Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/09/2018
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