“Verde’s unique style and simple yet increasingly important messages of peace, mindfulness, and community make her stories a must-share...A must-purchase.” —School Library Journal (starred review)
“Walls do not just create barriers and divide spaces. They can be canvases for artmaking; opportunities to shape a community.” —The Horn Book
“This story of urban renewal sends a welcome double message by Verde: neighbors and neighborhoods are more than the way they look, and ordinary people can band together to transform big things.” —Publishers Weekly
A boy takes on a community art project in order to make his neighborhood more beautiful in this empowering and inspiring picture book by Susan Verde, stunningly illustrated by award-winning artist John Parra.
One creative boy.
One bare, abandoned wall.
One BIG idea.
There is a wall in Ángel’s neighborhood. Around it, the community bustles with life: music, dancing, laughing. Not the wall. It is bleak. One boy decides to change that. But he can’t do it alone.
Told in elegant verse by Susan Verde and vibrantly illustrated by John Parra, this inspiring picture book celebrates the power of art to tell a story and bring a community together.
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.