Book Review: “The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself”

The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself

By Ali Redford
Illustrated by Kara Simpson

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2016, ISBN: 978-1-84905-683-1, $20.95, 32 pages

“The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself” is the story of a young child whose early childhood experiences caused him to wall himself off from the world around him. Hiding behind the wall helps him survive all his difficult feelings about early traumas, but it also causes him to act out in challenging ways — lying, stealing and bullying. These habits make him feel strong and powerful, instead of weak.

One day, “someone nice” starts talking to the boy through the wall. She works hard to break down the wall — while that was scary for the boy, eventually, he didn’t mind. “Someone nice” helps him think about his early traumas in a unscary way, so he can let go of the wall and move forward with his life.

Written by a foster mom of a sibling group, “The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself” is a nice way to dive into some tough challenges that children in foster care often face. Much like a foster parent or therapist, “someone nice” models what it looks like to build a relationship with a child to help them deal with their feelings and traumas. Reading this with children in foster care would be a great way to show children how people can help them in different ways. It can also help open doors to some tough conversations.

— Reviewed by Kim Phagan-Hansel

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