Though you might be tired of hearing the word “wall,” there’s a good chance you’ll love today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection. You might see it as politically and socially relevant, or you might see it as a fun story for kids. Either way, it’s a winner!
Title: The Wall in the Middle of the Book
Written and illustrated by: Jon Agee
Dial Books, 2018, fiction
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/topics: fears, walls
There’s a wall in the middle of the book.
And it’s a good thing.
There’s a wall in the middle of the book, and our hero–a young knight–is sure that the wall protects his side of the book from the dangers of the other side–like an angry tiger and giant rhino, and worst of all, an ogre who would gobble him up in a second! But our knight doesn’t seem to notice the crocodile and growing sea of water that are emerging on his side. When he’s almost over his head and calling for help, who will come to his rescue? An individual who isn’t as dangerous as the knight thought–from a side of the book that might just have some positive things to offer after all!
Activities and Resources:
Generate a list of kinds of walls and barriers. What is their purpose? Do they protect or divide people?
Explore more walls with the books, Talking Walls by Knight and Hey, Wall by Verde.
Compare and contrast another book about fears such as After The Fall by Santat.
Imagine: What would happen if the wall came down? Would the result be hilarious? Scary? Can you think of a peaceful solution? Draw or write a scene.
Why I like this book:
For me, the tale is a strong social statement at a time when we are walling ourselves off based on irrational fears and less than factual information. The increasing dangers on the so-called safe side serve as a powerful message. I’m sure kids will find their own world in the story, as well. It’s one of those great books that will get kids and adults thinking, each on their own level, about fears, misconceptions, and assumptions about people and life on the “other side” as well as the growing dangers of our own “side.” Somehow Agee manages to create a tale filled with fun that also leaves plenty of space for thoughts to run from silly to profound. He’s good!
Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.