Out of this wrenching scenario Cole has fashioned a tight little narrative that has all the ambient foreboding of a fairy tale, the sense of children at the mercy of enormous, irrational, half-understood forces.
—New York Times Book Review
British illustrator Cole’s life-affirming debut for children marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. … Striking, expressionist graphics and a plainspoken, minimalist text distinguish this standout.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Cole successfully uses his broad strokes of bold color to define the differences between the east and west sides of the wall. … Published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the tearing down of the wall, this story appeals to children’s natural instinct for fairness and justice. … However used, this powerful story of family, torn apart and reunited, allows children access to an important historical event by combining strikingly bold illustrations with a carefully worded text that engages and informs.
—School Library Journal
Cole’s dramatic digital illustrations fill the spreads with saturated color, dynamic composition, and atmospheric lighting, conveying the narrative’s powerful intensity. Though no direct mention is made of the Berlin Wall, or the complicated politics surrounding it, this emotional story, published on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the wall’s dismantling, invites further investigation and reflection, and it may be best appreciated by older children who will want to discuss the story’s challenging, powerful imagery.
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. … Doll-like figures temper the story’s more difficult episodes, yet Cole never hides the terror and injustice of life under totalitarian government.
Published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, this striking and graphically dramatic picture book makes accessible to young children the concept behind the fortified barrier that divided the city for nearly three decades. And through the young boy who narrates, 5- to 9-year-olds may begin to grasp the human cost.
—Wall Street Journal
Capturing perfectly the period after the Berlin Wall rose, the book’s dark, emotional digital illustrations put readers in the narrator’s shoes. … The author makes the fear and paranoia of those times palpable here, insuring the book’s usefulness for a social studies class and a discussion of WWII’s aftermath. Readers will find themselves imagining how it must have felt to be separated from loved ones by a wall and what it would have been like to have to stand guard to prevent individuals from fleeing from East Berlin to West Berlin.
—Reading Today Online
Artwork dominates the simple plot, with the nightmare- inducing, razor wire–topped wall looming over the boy’s town, and perspectives are oriented so that viewers share the sightlines of rifle-wielding soldiers.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
This commemorative book sheds light on a dark chapter of history when concrete, barbed wire and soldiers divide a city and the world. … Digital art, deeply shadowed and pierced by spotlights, dramatizes the high stakes and the happy ending.
—San Francisco Chronicle
A hardcover stunner for young readers… Timed to the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, this book invites parents to teach their kids about a difficult chapter in recent history without inducing any nightmares.