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The Wall by Eve Bunting

A Poignant Visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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Children's Picture Book Cover Art of The Wall by Eve Bunting
Houghton Mifflin
Author Eve Bunting has a gift for writing about serious subjects in a way that makes them accessible to young children, and she has done just that in her picture book The Wall. This children's picture book is about a father and his young son's visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The Wall by Eve Bunting: The Story

A young boy and his dad have traveled all the way to Washington, DC to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. They have come to find the name of the boy's grandfather, his dad's father. The little boy calls the memorial "my grandfather's wall." As the father and son look for the grandfather's name, they meet others who are visiitng the memorial, including a veteran in a wheelchair and a couple weeping while hugging one another.

They see flowers, letters, flags, and a teddy bear that have been left at the wall. When they find the name, they do a rubbing and leave a school photograph of the boy on the ground below his grandfather's name. When the boy says, "It's sad here," his father explains, "It's a place of honor."

The Wall by Eve Bunting: The Book's Impact

This brief description does not do justice to the book. It is a poignant tale, made more so by the muted watercolor illustrations of Richard Himler. The boy's obvious feelings of loss for a man he never knew, and his father's quiet remark, "He was just my age whe he was killed," really bring home the impact of war on the families whose lives have been changed by the loss of a loved one. Yet, while the father and son's visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is bittersweet, it is a comfort to them, and this, in turn, is a comfort to the reader.

The Wall by Eve Bunting: The Author and the Illustrator

Author Eve Bunting was born in Ireland and came to the United States as a young woman. She has written more than 200 children's books. These range from picture books to young adult books. She has written other children's books on serious subjects, such as Fly Away Home (homelessness), Smoky Night (the Los Angeles riots), and Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust. Bunting has also written numerous more lighthearted children's books, such as Sunflower House and Flower Garden, both of which are on my Top 10 Children’s Picture Books About Gardens and Gardening list.

In addition to The Wall, artist Richard Himler has illustrated a number of other books by Eve Bunting. These include Fly Away Home, A Day's Work, and Train to Somewhere. Among the children's books he's illustrated for other authors are Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and Katie's Trunk.

The Wall by Eve Bunting: My Recommendation

I recommend The Wall for six- to nine-year-olds. Even if your child is an independent reader, I suggest that you use it as a read-aloud. By reading it aloud to your children, you will have the opportunity to answer any questions they may have, to reassure them, and to discuss the story and the purpose of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. You might also put this book on your list of books to read around Memorial Day and Veterans Day. (Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin, 1990. ISBN: 0395515882)

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