What first attracted me to the book was the nice red color cover page with the doodle of a sad boy on it. The first few pages of the book give an impression of a normal story in which a nameless boy is happy and excited to have found a bright red kite. He had never seen such bright red colour, and get fascinated with it. He names the kite RED and starts playing with it. His kite sores into the sky. The higher it flies, the more excited he becomes.
Suddenly it’s not just a normal day. There is war happening and although he does not understand it, the boy experiences the sadness and futility of it. At the end he looks for his kite and sees it a little tattered. He picks up the kite, draws a big smile on it and sends it soaring into the sky slowly.
“Holding the thread he sent it slowly into the sky. Up, up, up, it went- his smiling Red. The little boy hoped the sky would never be angry again”.
What I found significant was the boy’s action. He was not bitter about the war and the loss although he was sad. He found a way to rise above it. His action speaks of a strong humane vision and resistance to war and violence.
The illustrations are sparse and the line drawings, the geometrical shapes and the primary colours starkly lay out the scenes with clarity. The boy’s sketches gives a different feel on every page.
Red is a strong, poignant story about how armed conflict ravages a childhood every day, how the devastation is not just of homes and lives but also of spirit. This book not only shows the innocence of the child but also records the expectations from the future. The author narrates the story of this little child as a weapon against war. Its strongest side in the story is its choice of words, small sentences and chronology of events. These words not only show us the mood of the political and the social conditions of the time but more than the idea of peace and freedom through the metaphor of kite.
The complex story has approachable text for children to read. Only after reading this book, we may able to appreciate that writing for children is not an easy task and writing a story under conflicting circumstances like war is more challenging.
Author & Illustrator: Sagar Kolwankar,
Publisher: Tulika, Year 2020,