Peter Sis and The Geography of the Body: Body Image and Movement Metaphors as the Manipulation of Identity in The Wall

Jordana Hall


The Wall is a graphic memoir for children authored by Caldecott winner Peter Sis. In this complex picture book, he describes growing up behind the Iron Curtain in a method understandable to children, but he also conveys something intimate about himself and his artistic journey to free expression. With few words used more as labels than story, he relies upon visual form and medium to share his narrative.

The pictures reveal a geographic motif, the mapping of identity onto space and places of his lived experience. He couples this geographic metaphor with representations linked to an embodied, visceral reality. Through color coded representations of place Sis creates a social, geo-biography that depicts ideology competing alongside the lens of the body; art is representational of a desire for freedom of expression juxtaposed against the conformity and constraint that map out the boundaries he continuously struggled against as an artist and individual growing up within a tyrannical regime. Sis’s seemingly simplistic picture book offers new revelations about metaphor and embodied subjectivity.

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680