Emma lives on the grey, cold, lonely side of a wall, where people speak in whispers and no flowers grow. On the other side, there is happiness and colour, but she can never go there. When Emma's parents disappear, she is sent to live with her Aunt Lily, who, "just like the land withered from lack of sunshine, was broken by the life she led." One day, Aunt Lily discovers Emma drawing and dashes her niece's dream of becoming an artist. That is, until one day, when a strange boat captain, and an even stranger boat, arrive, and she leaves her world behind forever.
Following Emma's arrival in a strange land (Halifax's Pier 21), her placement in a group home, and the discovery of her voice through art, The Land Beyond the Wall is a beautifully rendered allegory that uses magic realism to confront the harsh realities of immigration, and the universal struggle of finding one's voice, and one's place in the world.
Veronika Martenova Charles grew up in Prague, Czechoslovakia. When her grandmother put a stop to her drawing classes, she became a singer instead. After her dramatic arrival to Canada, she studied art at university and became an award-winning author and illustrator. Her books include Maiden of the Mist and The Birdman. Veronika is currently researching the future of children's storytelling in doctoral studies.
The Land Beyond the Wall is a story of bravery, hope and determination. And although Charles uses age-appropriate prose and shields her audience from the specifics of her main character's predicament, the political and social messages are clear: all people deserve to be free, art is important and the world is often unfair. —Atlantic Books Today (Halifax, NS)
Charlie's gentle illustrations move from grey-toned in Emma's homeland and in her moments of despair to bright and sunny as she begins to achieve her dream. —Canadian Children's Book News (Toronto, ON)
With powerful imagery and heart-felt emotion, The Land Beyond the Wall will spark discussion and reflection. —Canadian Materials Magazine (Winnipeg, MB)
The language and the rhythm of an experienced storyteller is evident on every page. —Canadian Children's Book News (Toronto, ON)
Even recent immigrants would be able to identify with the feelings portrayed in the book, as well as those seeking to learn about the experience. —Resource Links (NF)