The wall in the middle of the book

Jon Agee

Book - 2018

A knight who feels secure on his side of the wall that divides his book discovers that his side is not as safe as he thought, and the other side is not as threatening.

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Picture books
New York, NY : Dial Books for Young Readers [2018]
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 30 cm
Main Author
Jon Agee (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* A tall brick wall runs through the gutter of this book. On the left, a narrating knight mounts a ladder to replace a brick. He's convinced the wall is a good thing because it protects his "safe" side from dangers on the other. Wild animals and a large man (the knight insists he is an ogre) live on the right side of the wall. "If the ogre ever caught me, he'd eat me up," states the knight with certitude. What goes unmentioned is the water rising underneath the knight and a lot of predator-prey carnage beneath him. Eventually the knight falls into the water and is rescued by the ogre (who is actually a nice guy), and everyone ends up happily on a final spread that pays homage to Maurice Sendak's wild rumpus. Agee's signature cartoon artwork employs simple shapes, white backgrounds, and muted colors, appropriate to the deadpan delivery of the story. The ogre and animals may look fearsome, but everyone is well-behaved and pleasant. By contrast, bigger creatures keep eating smaller ones (much like in Jon Klassen's Hat trilogy) in the knight's kingdom on the left side of the book. Will the intended audience recognize the xenophobia depicted here? Probably not. But the message that walls don't help us understand our neighbors will stick. Preschool-Grade 2. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this sly fable by Agee (Life on Mars), a tall brick wall runs along the book's gutter, and the action takes place on either side. On the verso, a short, perky knight approaches the wall with a ladder. On the recto, a menacing-looking tiger and rhino lurk. "The wall protects this side of the book" the knight explains, "from the other side of the book." The contrast between the knight's cheery, confiding tone and the outsize dangers supply hilarity, and blocky images in faded hues soften potentially scary moments. As the animals flee, the knight's side of the wall starts to fill up with water. "The most dangerous thing on the other side of the book is the ogre," the knight says from his ladder, oblivious to the deepening flood, finger raised in emphasis. Enter the ogre—uh oh. As ever, Agee nails pacing and punch lines, making inventive use of the famous fourth wall as a literary device (and giving the book a new wall altogether). Most satisfying is his gentle reminder that preconceived notions about things and people, over a boundary or otherwise, are often distinctly wrong. Ages 4–8. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Oct.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

PreS-Gr 3—There's a wall in the middle of this book. And it's a good thing, because it protects one side of the book from the other side. Or, at least that's what the hero of the book, a young knight, thinks. As the knight warns readers about all of the dangers on the other side of the wall—like tigers and mean ogres—he remains oblivious to the rising water and crocodile who are sneaking up behind him on his side of the wall. Before the water engulfs him completely, the knight is rescued by a surprising savior, and he soon learns that things may not be so bad on the other side of the wall after all. The knight's journey reminds readers that instead of building walls, we should be tearing them down in order to understand who or what is on the other side. Agee's simple illustrations combined with his trademark humor and ability to let readers in on a secret that the protagonist knows nothing about, combine to solidify him as a hilarious picture book master. VERDICT A silly read-aloud with an important message. A solid choice for storytime and one-on-one sharing.—Elizabeth Blake, Brooklyn Public Library Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A knight who feels secure on his side of the wall that divides his book discovers that his side is not as safe as he thought, and the other side is not as threatening.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A silly knight, standing firmly on one side of a wall, believes his side to be the safe one and fails to notice crocodiles and a growing sea of water before he is rescued by someone from the other side of the wall who is not as scary as he thought, in a metaphorical tale by the award-winning creator of It's Only Stanley. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A young knight is confident that the wall in the middle of the book protects his side from the dangers of the other side, but he doesn't seem to notice that there is danger looming on his side of the wall too.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A foolish knight is certain that his side of the wall is the safe side in this clever, amusingly meta picture book by the acclaimed creator of It's Only StanleyThere's a wall in the middle of the book, and our hero--a young knight--is sure that the wall protects his side of the book from the dangers of the other side--like an angry tiger and giant rhino, and worst of all, an ogre who would gobble him up in a second! But our knight doesn't seem to notice the crocodile and growing sea of water that are emerging on his side. When he's almost over his head and calling for help, who will come to his rescue? An individual who isn't as dangerous as the knight thought--from a side of the book that might just have some positive things to offer after all!