The Wall


The Wall art smalljpeg
©2018 Michael Duncan

One of the most successful children’s book writers and editors in American history, Ann McGovern, was the author of 55 children’s picture books, including the worldwide bestselling classic, Stone Soup. For a decade, Ann and John Smelcer collaborated on a number of children’s picture book projects, including the following cautionary tale, which is especially relevant today. Ann passed away in the summer of 2015. On behalf of Ann’s family, we welcome the opportunity to work with an illustrator and publisher to bring this poignant book to the world.



Seems like some people always want to build a wall between

themselves and others. But maybe that’s not such a good thing.

Be careful what you wall in and what you wall out.


Ann McGovern & John Smelcer


Once upon a time there were two kingdoms.

They had been neighbors for a very long time.


Legend says the people were different from each other,

but they were also very much the same.


The people in the northern kingdom were white and wore brown clothes.

The people in the southern kingdom were brown and wore white clothes.


Nothing divided the kingdoms from one another,

no treacherous sea nor impassable mountains,


and so people from both sides could come and go

and visit friends and family or go to work or vacation.


But then one day the people in the north

built an enormous wall between the two kingdoms.


It was so high that clouds got tangled up in it.

It was so long that no one could see the end in either direction.


All along the great wall gigantic signs warned:

“Keep Out!” “No Trespassing!” “Only People Like Us!”


For a while, the people in the north congratulated themselves

and had their pictures taken beside the enormous wall.


People on TV and on the radio talked about how wonderful it was that

those people who were brown and wore white clothes no longer came into their kingdom.


On the southern side of the wall people just stared at the wall,

which was so high that migrating birds and monarch butterflies had to turn back.


But then one day, something terrible happened to the people in the north.

No one knows what happened for certain. Lots of different stories are told.


Some say they ran out of food. Some say they ran out of water.

Others say that with no one to trade with their banks ran out of money.


But whatever terrible thing happened,

the people in the northern kingdom desperately needed help.


They painted giant signs and banners that said “Please Help Us!”

and hung them all along the wall.


The people of the south brought great big machines and wrecking balls

and broke a hole in the wall. People on both sides hugged and cheered.


After that, the people in the north who were white and wore brown clothes

and the people in the south who were brown and wore white clothes


worked together to demolish the rest of the wall.

They hauled away the broken pieces and built islands in the sea.


The islands were shaped like letters that were so big

they could be seen from space.


And the letters in the sea spelled out:



About Us

  • charter brand transp blue mediumCharter for Compassion provides an umbrella for people to engage in collaborative partnerships worldwide. Our mission is to bring to life the principles articulated in the Charter for Compassion through concrete, practical action in a myriad of sectors.


  • Charter for Compassion
  • PO Box 10787
  • Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
  • twitter
  • facebook1
  • facebook2
  • youtube
  • linked in
  • pinterest
  • instagram
  • tumblr



  • Be up to date with our latest news.

Log in