Cover Image: Sometimes a Wall...

Sometimes a Wall...

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Member Reviews

We hear a lot about walls these days, and they can have different reasons for being, as young readers learn in this new picture book. Kids see that walls can be drawn on with chalk, or they can be a wall of cooling water on a hot summer day, they can even be a rock wall on which to practice climbing.  And sometimes walls can be inclusionary, but they can also be exclusionary.

And sometimes when a wall is exclusionary, the children behind it can be mean, and the child outside the wall can be hurt by their taunts and lies. When one boy inside a wall decides to turn it into a castle, after all the other kids work together to build it, he selfishly shouts MINE and wants all the other children go away. But sometimes, having your own castle surrounded by a wall and no friends can get pretty lonely. Perhaps a new start can turn things around because...a wall can lead to anything.

When I first read this book, I loved it, but I was also afraid it might be a little to metaphorical for my young readers. And it was. However, it generated some really good conversations and reflexions regarding what this book says about friendship, inclusion, empathy, kindness, and connection. These are big words and ideas for young kids, but this book so nicely illustrates what they mean using the sparest of text and simple, but expressive illustrations. We've read Sometimes a Wall... a number of times now, and each time it get richer and more meaningful. The kids also had some fun with the two coloring pages (see below for the link) that go with this book. 

Who is Dianne White and why did she write Sometimes a Wall...?
A conversation with a friend got author Dianne White thinking about different kinds of wall, both physical and metaphorical. Sometimes a Wall...is an exploration of these, and with it, an invitation to take down barriers and find common ground. Dianne's other books include Green on Green and Who Eats Orange? A long-time elementary school teacher, she lives with her family in Gilbert, Arizona. To learn more, and to download a discussion guide and more, visit Dianne's website at diannewrites.com
You can also find her on Twitter @diannewrites and on Facebook: Dianne White

Thanks to the publisher Owlkids, you can find a discussion guide for Sometimes a Wall...HERE

This book is recommended for readers age 4+
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While I do like the art style of this one, I don't love the story behind it. It feels thin and flat, particularly in a time when walls are such an important topic of conversation. There's very little of the why here, or the why not, and the sparse language rather than leaving room for imagination leaves the reader confused about what is happening in the story.
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Sometimes A Wall  which is written by Dianne White is a delightful picture book that introduces different types of walls through the eyes of children as they are playing one afternoon.  One type of a wall can be used for creativity such as painting pictures or creating chalk drawings.  Another type of a wall can demonstrate bullying when it does not allow someone to come through to play.  A third type of a wall allows children to come together and play.  This is a wonderful way to teach children how a wall can help them come together or divide them according to their choices. Barroux, who is the illustrator, has created colorful illustrations.
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I received an ARC through NetGalley from OwlKids Books. This was a great conversation starter for kids ages 4 - 7 about what a wall can be. The book showed people build walls up in confrontation, but how they can break walls down to be friends. While there wasn't many words, there was a lot to discuss and think about. Nice artwork and page spreads. The art captured my sons attention.
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Sometimes a Wall... by Dianne White is a lovely story about all the things a wall can be on a playground. It should be obvious to anyone who has been awake for the past few years that this book is referring to the actual border wall between the US and our neighbor, while also generally applying to the metaphorical walls that can be raise between people and friends. 

I read this aloud with my 3.5 yr old son. The illustrations are bright and beautiful. It reads a little strangely as a read aloud, like it was trying to be thoughtful and profound by writing in a sort-of-verse. But I'm an adult reading out loud to a small: children's books need to be easily read aloud. 

Unfortunately, it falls under the category of books "who try to do all the thinking for the kids" rather than letting them work it out through a beautiful story. As beautiful as it is, there's no room for imagination, and my son had no interest in discussing what was on the pages. 

Cute idea, beautiful pictures, nice message---lamely executed. 

Thank you NetGalley and OwlKids for a copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review.
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A heartwarming book to teach kids about empathy. The lines are short, rhyme, and the illustrations bring the message of kindness and inclusion together. The different walls - chalk, water, climbing are symbolic of how there are many ways to divide us. This would be a great classroom addition to help kids sort through these issues of bullying and exclusion and a great social emotional learning tool.
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The story was kind of confusing. Not really sure what the message was overall. It also seems misplaced based on the current "wall discourse" in the United States.
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Visually clear depiction of difficult social dilemmas.  Lots of room here for high level conversation with children as young as four and meaningful conversations with children through age 8.  Exclusion, inclusion, bystanding, upstanding, and conflict resolution.  Let’s share this one with youngsters and caring adults wherever we can!
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This book is cute in helping kids understand sharing & working together. If my library was bigger, I might consider purchasing this, but do not think it is necessarily a 'first purchase' for smaller libraries.
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In this make-lemons-out-of-lemonade book, the lemon is a wall.  In the beginning, the author tells of all the great kinds of walls before building one that keeps a child apart and left out.  He then has to find a solution.  I just feel like in the current political climate, a wall was not the best way to make this point.

Thanks to NetGalley and OwlKids books for the digital review copy.  This review is cross-posted to Goodreads and Instagram.
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I seem to be in a minority here, but I didn't love Sometimes a Wall. I feel it was a bit too oversimplified and the message and story is no longer powerful. I don't feel children will emotionally connect with this barebones story.
I like the premise and the illustrations are lovely, but overall, I'm not a fan.
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"Sometimes a Wall" is a beautifully drawn picture book with few words. Adults can easily read between the lines on the origin of this book, but it remains apolitical. The lack of words leaves storytelling completely to the tone of the storyteller, which can hopefully fill some of the gaps. Overall, I liked the idea, but a few mor words could have been helpful.
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An excellent way to talk about walls with children. How they can be fun to build, but tend to separate us and tear us apart. A great book to introduce talks on community and how when we work together it benefits everyone.
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This is a wonderful concept book. It helps children understand the different types of walls. Some tangible. Some intangible.
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Because Sometimes a Wall is so sparse in words, it's one of these picture books where you have to read between the lines and analyze the illustrations. This could prove useful in read alouds when you want to hold a detailed discussion about each page with your students. Otherwise, the book doesn't say much at all and the simplistic message (don't use walls to keep people out or put yourself above others) could probably be conveyed in a more engrossing story.
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A charming  exploration of the many types of and uses for walls with an encouraging opportunity for discussion about exclusion and friendship.
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Sometimes a Wall

The author, Diane White, dedicates this book to Stephanie Green “who asked for a book about walls.” One has to wonder if her request was motivated by the “Build the wall!” campaign of the United States presidential candidate turned current president and his supporters. If that political context might be lost to many of the kids who interact with this picture book, it can hardly be lost on any adult readers tuned in at all to world affairs. 

But this picture book is presented without political commentary. It is, rather, on its surface, a book which presents walls as objects or structures that can be mean, unfair, or hopeful or overcome for friendship. Let’s hope the same can be said for the walls of world politics, both metaphorical and physical.

I read a digital proof of Sometimes a Wall by Diane White and illustrated by Barroux via NetGalley and the publisher, Owlkids Books.
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Sometimes a Wall would be a great read aloud story to teach students about friendship. It would also be a great book to use for teaching making inferences.
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Words are used minimally and impact-fully with the illustrations to show the value of inclusion. At younger grades, this book could be for a more social lesson about how to treat others. At older grades, it could be used to start larger conversations about political matters.
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Sometimes A Wall depicts a unique way that children will understand what it means to feel separated or different. A wall is physically used to isolate one child from the rest, while everyone is playing. There are not a lot of words to this picture book, but that is fine because the focus is on the images themselves and the feelings evoked by the one or two words on the page. This is a great book to teach kids about how our words and actions can hurt other people. We can build "walls", but we can also break them down and use them in other ways.
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