Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Peter Sis, a Czechoslovak immigrant to America in the 1980s, wrote about what it was like to be born at the start of the Communist regime and grow up in a totalitarian system.
When I lived in Prague, I had listened with extraordinary intent to Czech friends who had gone through this history. I loved hearing their experiences, their wisdom from what they had been through, and learning from them how people and families cope with a dystopian reality.
Peter Sis has compressed his own history and his nations' history into this graphical history that can be read in less than an hour. He bore witness! He warned! It's as if he is handing the reader at home the conversations we expats got to have in Prague with our Czech friends about what it was like.
I can't recommend the book enough. It would make a wonderful book to read together as a family for an intergenerational discussion about freedom.
This book has been widely acclaimed both as a Caldecott Honor book for distinguished illustration (the author's wonderful drawings help tell the story), and as the winner of the Siebert award for the most distinguished informational title in America, for children, in the year it was published.
Here is a short interview with the author.
From "The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain"
“When my American family goes to visit my Czech family in the colorful city of Prague, it is hard to convince them it was ever a dark place full of fear, suspicion, and lies. I find it difficult to explain my childhood; it’s hard to put it into words, and since I have always drawn everything, I have tried to draw my life— before America—for them.” —Peter Sis
You may be interested in these other reads:
The Restoration of Order: The Normalization of Czechoslovakia" by Milan Simecka
How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed by Slavenka Drakulic
In Prague, You Can Enjoy Reading "Café Europa" at the Café Europa
WWII was worse for Central Europe than even our histories and memories tell us
Heda Kovaly, Czech Who Wrote of Totalitarianism, Is Dead at 91
Understanding Iran: The Power of One Graphic Novel named "Persepolis"
The 'Empty Nest Expat' blog is on Facebook! Follow my adventures there.