The Red Zone: An Earthquake Story. tr. from Italian by Anna Barton

Amulet. Sept. 2019. 144p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781419733680.
Gr 4-7–In the aftermath of the 2016 earthquakes in Italy, Matteo, Giulia, and Federico reflect on what they lost. Many families leave their village or are relocated to tents, and children resume school. Giulia’s house is severely damaged, and Federico’s, located in the high-risk, off-limit Red Zone, is completely destroyed. Matteo’s father gets a trailer for Matteo’s mother, stepfather, half sister Agata, and grandmother, and all try to adjust to the new normal despite the paralyzing fear of aftershocks and the tension and anger that affect many, especially Federico. Both narrative and visuals provide a gentle window into a community attempting to rebuild. Manga-esque art and text flow well, and the illustrations effectively portray the setting. An unnamed curly-haired boy goes to school with the other kids and draws a picture interpreting the earthquake as airplanes dropping bombs on houses. Later, the child’s grandfather, who wears a kufi and speaks only Arabic, tells Matteo and his grandmother that gardens are a blessing during war and gives them seeds, and the boy explains that their family fled their home country. This depiction, along with the creation story of the world on the back of turtles and a discussion of kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing pottery, stresses the power of resilience.
VERDICT A poignant tale of loss and how the bonds of friendship help piece life back together in the wake of tragedy

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