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The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself – Children’s Book Review


From the Cover of The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself by Ali Redford:

“Boy built a wall to keep himself safe. Behind it he felt strong and more protected. Then Someone Kind came along. She bounced a ball, sang and painted on the other side of the wall, and Boy began to wonder if life on the other side might be better after all.

Written for children aged four to nine, this full-colour picture book uses a simple metaphor to explain how children who have had painful or traumatic experiences can build barriers between themselves and other people. It will help children explore their feelings, encourage communication and build trust.”


5 hoots out of 5

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 5 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here.]

What Our Family Thought:

We strongly recommend this book for foster and adoptive families of kids from with a history of trauma or emotional pain. One of our older children when asked how many hoots the book should receive stated that it should get an 11! The target audience is ages 4 through 9, but even our older children were able to really relate to and enjoy this book.

The illustrations are very well done and use the contrast of color pictures to show positive emotions and actions—happiness, kindness, playfulness, connectedness—and grayscale pictures to portray scenes reflecting negative emotions—sad, scared, lonely. Our children (ages 9 to 17) all picked up on and appreciated this visual depiction of feelings.

The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself offers hope and compassion to children who have suffered, and it provides parents and caregivers an opportunity to start important conversations about emotions, trauma, and metaphorical walls and connect with children in their care. It would be a great book for a foster or adoptive parent who has been attempting to reach a child and build trust but has had a hard time reaching the child or a child who seems close to attaching but still a little scared and resistant.

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It’s Your Turn:

  1. What do you think Boy was scared about?
  2. Why do you think Boy lied, stole things, and fought?
  3. Why did Boy like the wall at the beginning?
  4. Why didn’t he want the wall at the end?
  5. Is Someone Kind a safe person? Why or why not?
  6. Boy’s wall kept him safe. Why didn’t he need the wall at the end of the book?
  7. Do you ever get scared?
  8. Who are safe adults you can talk to?
  9. Ask your foster/adoptive parent(s) if they see you using a wall like Boy? What do they see?
  10. Talk about one thing you can do this week as a family to start bringing the wall down.


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