The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Peter Sis draws us into the world that shaped him–Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. World War II had ended, and the Germans had left, but Czechoslovakia was still an occupied country, this time by the Russians. As tensions between Eastern Europe and the free world intensified, borders to the West were fortified with fences and walls–the Iron Curtain had descended. Behind it were many people who wanted to be free. And as Peter grows up, he becomes one of them.

Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sís shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe. But adolescence brought questions. Cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Sís learned about beat poetry, rock ’n’ roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow long, secretly read banned books, and joined a rock band. Then came the Prague Spring of 1968, and for a teenager who wanted to see the world and meet the Beatles, this was a magical time. It was short-lived, however, brought to a sudden and brutal end by the Soviet-led invasion.

Related: Biography, Czech Republic, Intermediate (ages 9-14), Picture Book

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