Review of Off the Wall

H Off the Wall Off the Wall
by Theodore Taylor III; illus. by the author
Primary    Roaring Brook    48 pp.    g
10/22    978-1-62672-294-1    $19.99

Part fish-out-of-water story, part ode to street art, this vibrant offering will grab readers’ attention. Narrator Sam is unhappy about a family move that has traded their “fast, busy city life for a small, quiet one far away.” Sam, apparently the only Black child in their new classroom, feels out of place and misses the sights and sounds of the city. Then one day Sam spies a graffitied building and is captivated: “It reminded me of home—loud and energetic.” Taylor’s bold comics-style illustrations provide readers with ample visuals to explore, aligning them with Sam as they take in the graffiti’s images and lettering. Upon returning to see the art, however, Sam is crestfallen to discover it’s been painted over. Happily, an older cousin shares other places where they can see street art: “tags in the alley, stickers on street signs, stencils on the corner, throw-ups on moving vans, murals in parking lots.” They end up at an abandoned factory the town has ­permitted people to paint as they wish, with the eventual goal of transforming it into a community center. Another child invites Sam to join in, her welcome finally making Sam feel at home. Heartfelt back matter reveals the roots of Taylor’s own fascination with street art.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Megan Dowd Lambert
Megan Dowd Lambert

Megan Dowd Lambert created the Whole Book Approach storytime model in association with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and is a former lecturer in children’s literature at Simmons University, where she also earned her MA. In addition to ongoing work as a children’s book author, reviewer, and consultant, Megan is president of Modern Memoirs, Inc., a private publishing company specializing in personal and family histories. 

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