With so many natural disasters occurring all over the world, children find themselves witnessing the loss of their homes and dealing with the drastic change in their lives. Even those not affected by disaster can see how hard it is for others.
However, tragedy never lasts forever, as long as you know how to move on and find others who can help. Author Silvia Vecchini and illustrator Sualzo provides an example of this life changing event in their graphic novel The Red Zone: An Earthquake Story. This Italian import tells the story of how a community moves on after they have lost everything in a devastating earthquake.
Three preteens Matteo, Giulia, and Federico find themselves homeless after an earthquake damages their community. Along with their neighbors, they try to adjust to their new homes and move on from the experience. However, it becomes difficult when they realize how much they have lost. Seeking to find some sort of normalcy within their lives is not easy, but with help from friends and family, the children soon learn that hope can be found after tragedy.
With its positive message, The Red Zone: An Earthquake Story is a great choice for those searching for a story about overcoming tragedy. Vecchini’s story takes young readers into a society they may or may not be familiar with. Those who have experienced a natural disaster and the loss of their home will find similarities with the characters and see themselves trying within the story. As for other readers, they will understand how difficult moving on after a disaster can be and how people cope with the change, whether it be healthy or destructive.
The story also moves from one experience to another, providing readers with different points of view. Sualzo uses natural color tones for the characters and the scenery, as well as darker tones for the scenes that take place at night. He provides just enough details in the environment that readers will not get lost but notice how terrible the effects of an earthquake are. Scenes of crumbled buildings and destroyed statues are shown throughout, with characters attempt to rebuild their lives piece by piece. The characters’ anxieties, sadness, and comfort are visually shown in their dialogue and body language. Graphic novels such as this provide enough visuals and emotions to explain how a society is affected after the disaster and how they can cope with it.
Public and school libraries, especially those that have experienced any type of natural disaster, will want to have The Red Zone: An Earthquake Story in their collection. It is a great source for those who are unable to move on from disaster and need a little help. With its emotional storyline and dialogue, this graphic novel is well suited for children in grades 4th-6th. It is best to point out that there are scenes of adolescent smoking and dialogue with a few bad words thrown in, but these add to the story’s plot and some of the characters’ development.
The Red Zone: An Earthquake Story
By Silvia Vecchini
Art by Sualzo
Amulet Books, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: 8 and up