Bringing Down the Wall
Selected Title: Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s
Best Books for Kids and Teens
Joshua misses his grandpa, but his mother has told him he’s not allowed to see him. She won’t explain why, but Joshua suspects it has something to do with his grandpa’s new wife, Riva.
One day, Joshua sets out on his own to visit his grandpa and Riva to discover the truth. He hopes he can find a way to make it up between them and his mother. But will he be able to bring down the wall guarding their secrets?
ISBN 9781922120199 (HB, 32 pp) 222 x 222mm
ISBN 9781922120205 (eBook);
A beautifully written, gentle and sensitive story about how barriers of resentment and anger can grow between family members, due to isolation and a lack of understanding or communication. Bringing Down The Wall reveals how the strength and innocence of a child’s love can have the power to break through even the most stubborn barriers of misunderstanding.
David P Reiter tells the moving story of a little boy named Joshua, who goes to visit his grandfather, even though his mother has forbidden him ever to do so.
Joshua’s grandfather celebrates his grandson’s visit with the sharing of ice cream and conversation about the past. They explore the reasons why people all have different ways of reacting to difficult life changes, such as illness and death, and the range of emotions that people go through in the process of grieving and trying to move on with their lives.
The reader is able to empathize with Joshua and his grandfather, as they both begin to gain an understanding and acceptance of each other’s feelings, and Joshua is finally able to appreciate the reasons for his mother’s anger and resentment against his grandfather and his step-grandmother, Riva.
Joshua begins to realize that although he’s just a little boy, he is actively ‘bringing down the wall’ between his mother and grandfather, with the enormous power of love he has for his family.
Sona Babajanyan evokes the feeling of warmth and security with her beautiful tonal and textured illustrations of the timeworn and comfortable interior of the house of Joshua’s grandparents. The old-fashioned telephone and ornaments, photographs of family, faded wallpaper, cluttered shelves and big comfy chairs all convey the feeling of the well loved, well worn, safe and familiar.
Sona’s characters are softly painted with gentleness, but they avoid any of the mawkish sentimentality that could so easily have crept into the sequential illustration of this kind of theme. Joshua is presented as a fresh faced, wide-eyed and thoughtful child, whilst his grandfather and step-grandmother are drawn as quietly care worn.
This is a picture book story that would be best shared with a parent, grandparent or teacher, and I can imagine it would bring about a great deal of interesting classroom discussion.
Children need more picture stories like this one; stories that address family relationships, and stories that also help young people to understand their own unexpressed personal emotions in our modern, high tech, fast-paced world.
– Kathy Creamer, Kids Creative Tales
Once, Joshua was very close to his grandfather but since his grandmother got really sick and died, he hasn’t seen him because his mother will not let him. Joshua suspects it has something to do with his grandfather’s new wife, but eventually the tug of family overcomes him and he sets out on his own to visit him secretly. Timidly he approaches the house and knocks, and is greeted by Riva who tries to persuade him to ring his mum while they wait for Grandpa to come home with ice cream. But Josh wants to see his grandpa first and when he arrives, they sit down and Grandpa tells him a story from his childhood about little boys not being able to make a difference.
But Joshua disagrees – he thinks they can and he thinks he is.
That’s not the only lesson Joshua learns that day in a sensitive portrayal of a situation of a family’s rift that is all too common. For not only does Joshua learn that just one person can take the step to healing, he also has his grandfather’s wisdom of knowing why the rift has occurred and there is understanding rather than blame. Sometimes time can heal, but sometimes it can create a gap too wide to cross. His may not be the only heart healed today.
The soft muted tones that Sona Babajanyan has used in the illustrations echo the poignancy of this story that explores topics that are common in our students’ lives but not necessarily written about in books. The ache between grandchild and grandparent and vice versa is tangible, and there’s always a piece of you missing when one is removed through divorce or death. Too many years can be lost if there is no reconciliation and Joshua may prove inspirational to some. This is fiction mirroring real life. Sometimes all it takes is the courage to pick up the phone. Little people CAN make a difference, indeed.
– Barbara Braxton, The Bottom Shelf
A sensitively told story about loving relationships, coping with loss and learning to love again. Bringing Down the Wall gently explores the process of loss and healing across the generations, from child to parent to grandparent.
—Margaret Warner, Buzz Words
A beautiful, heart-felt story about how sometimes things get lost in the generation gap. It takes someone very special to build the bridge and mend the hearts. This book is sure to fill a gap in the market and many a family. Lovely.
— Angela Hall, Bug in a Book
Walls are built for protection. For keeping people safe. But what happens when the wall is psychological and the people you are keeping out are your family? Bringing Down the Wall is an honest look at how confusing life can be. It’s about forgiveness and acceptance. It’s about courage and frailty but above all it’s about love and family.
—Jackie Hosking, Pass It On
David P Reiter
His previous children’s books are Real Guns, and the Project Earth-mend Series that includes The Greenhouse Effect, Global Cooling, Tiger Tames the Min Min and the 2014 release Tiger Takes the Big Apple.
David has won the Queensland Premier’s Award, the Western Australian Premier's Award and been shortlisted for the Steele Rudd and Adelaide Festival Awards. He has presented his work to audiences in Australia and overseas and has received several grants from the Australia Council and Arts Queensland.
Download the free Teachers' Guide, keyed to the Australian National Curriculum
To see more of Sona's illustrations please visit her:
It had taken Joshua nearly twenty minutes to walk there from the train.
The rain had confused him and he had taken a wrong turn on the way.
Joshua’s heart was racing, but he knew it was the right house because the slip of paper said so.
It was not as big as the house he and his
mother lived in, but it was brick, just as he expected.
His grandfather had been a bricklayer; he knew that much. So how could his house have been timber?
There were two brick planters spilling yellow flower petals on either side of the steps up to the verandah. Joshua had not expected flowers from the little his mother had told him about her father. But perhaps they were the work of Riva, his new wife.
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She works both in traditional and digital media, and her artwork has been exhibited in Armenia, Europe and the US (which included a solo exhibition in Washington DC). Some of her works are held in private collections in Europe and the US.