CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 41. . . .June 22, 2012
Wall of Tears is second title in the ďFirst DaysĒ series, one of the resource materials produced by Hear My Heart Books, Inc. The aim of these resources is to empower all young readers, not exclusively those living in crisis.
Author Alison Uitti continues the narrative of a childís daily life in the sequel to the novella Night Movies. The everyday events of summer adventures, opening a can of soup, picking dandelions, starting a new school year, and bringing money to school for a lunch order are not everyday experiences for the main character. The young girl, who remains nameless in the story, shares her thoughts and fears with the reader through her first person account each daily event evokes for her. Uitti skilfully uses this personal narration to build a connection with the reader. Although a newcomer with limited English, the child conveys her emotions in a powerful manner. She draws the reader into her world of the unfamiliar, the happy experiences of friendship, being bullied, her differences and difficult memories. The gentle tone of the narration enables the reader to empathize with the child and feel the depth of her perception in a new country. Wall of Tears continues to expose her traumatic memories through the clever connection of learning about children who were victims of residential schools. From the classroom lesson to the presentation in the gym by a parent of a residential school victim, the profound reaction and emotion of the young girl has a strong impact on the reader.
The 12 short chapters of the book, two or three pages in length, capture a variety of daily events that a newcomer faces in an unfamiliar environment. The author highlights the happiness provided by a special friend, caring adults and new experiences and, at the same time, presents the fears and hurt that a child encounters in a new place. The text uses simple sentences and controlled vocabulary. However, this can still present a challenge to beginner readers, especially for EAL and ESL students. As a read-aloud or instructional text, the vocabulary and easy flowing dialogue is age appropriate.
In 33 pages, Wall of Tears delivers an emotion impact on its readers. The powerful introspection that author Alison Uitti delivers in this short novella is an invitation for students of all ages to discuss the challenges newcomers face. It also draws attention to the need for a community to welcome, befriend and support each child as he or she adapts to new and different experiences.
Janice Foster is a retired teacher and teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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