Wednesday, 18 April 2012

What is a wall after all?

'What is a Wall After All?' by Judy Allen and illustrated by Alan Baron is a non fiction title that was first published in 1993 and has been more or less in print in different versions ever since. I suspect that's quite an accomplishment for what is (after all), a reasonably unflashy title on a pretty prosaic subject. It's staying power is well deserved, this is a very lovable book.

Eddie's always been a very enthusiastic spotter of bricks and examiner of construction methods. He likes to get right nose up to a nice patch of mortar work and trace it admiringly with his fingers. Future career trajectories may be revealing themselves in this love-in. I confess it hadn't occurred to me to look for a book to tie in with his, to me obscure, interest until I stumbled upon this title in the library. Well shame on me. 'What is a Wall after all?' features NOT ONLY  a detailed explication of over 20 types of brick but also a very liberal referencing of another Eddie hero; Humpty Dumpty. Pure Eddie gold.

It's actually about much more than brickwork though. Walls are considered at their most concrete (literally) and also in a much more abstract way; considering walls as both barriers and protectors. We contemplate the walls of a prison, an igloo, a mountain side, a sea defence, a safe and an oven amongst others and learn about the construction techniques and the natural world inhabitants of walls. The text mixes rhyme with cartoon bubble dialogue and simple labels. The pictures are generous; cartoon style and crammed with detail. Humpty can be spotted on every spread- mostly staying out of trouble.

'There are walls made of glass that shine in the sun, and rubbery walls that are silly-but fun! There are brick walls and thick walls and walls owned by cats, and deep underground there are cave walls, with bats'

The book ends with a spread of astronauts (including-phew-Survivor Humpty) trying to spot the Great Wall of China from the moon.

'Where are you? In a room? In a garden? In a car? A bus? A train? In a field? on a boat? Maybe up in a plane? In the street? On the beach? In a hot-air balloon? In a cafe? In bed? Perhaps on the moon? Well, wherever you are when you finish this book, I bet you can see a wall, if you look.'

Wall spotting just got a lot more involved for us all from this read. I may need to develop a companion Spotters Guide. 50 points for a half round coping brick anyone?

There's 'A Piece of String is a Wonderful Thing' in the same series too- in case the enthusiast in your house is more about the knots.

'What is a Wall After All?'(Read and Discover) written Judy Allen, illustrated Alan Baron, pub Walker,
isbn 978-1406318562


  1. Yes- both fun and really informative which can be a difficult balance.