Red by Sagar Kolwanka is published by Tulika Books. You can buy it on amazon. It is on the Neev Book Award 2019 shortlist and has also been nominated for the Jarul Book Award, 2019. Recommended age for self-reading: Regular 7+ | Advanced 5+.

Using striking colours and the outline of a little boy with a head full of curly hair, Sagar Kolwankar takes us back to our childhood when we were fascinated by all things that could fly. The unnamed little boy spots a bright, vibrant object. It is square with a wavy tail. A red kite!

The boy runs around with his new friend. It is the perfect playmate when his friends aren’t around. He wants it to fly high and it does exactly that. Oh, how happy he feels at the beautiful sight of Red against the clear blue sky!

It’s really about war

Red is also about a war that spills Red onto our lands. When the sky suddenly darkens, the boy is forced into hiding. He hears bombs falling – on houses, on roads, on people. When he scrambles out of his hiding spot, the ground is red. He wondered why the sky was angry. The little boy, ever innocent, picks up his slightly tattered kite and draws a huge smile on Red.

He hoped that flying Red with that huge smile would make sure that the sky is never angry again.

Minimalist illustrations allow the reader to think beyond the text and the effective use of primary colours has given the story much more depth than just talking about war-stricken countries and lives. The book is an interesting mix of symmetrical and curved lines that show the stark difference between bleak reality and faultless imagination.

Need of the hour

Stories that talk about the effect of war need to be told now more than ever. When these stories take the form of a children’s book it becomes even more pertinent. While there are many picture books that talk about war, I couldn’t find other such books by Indian publishers, which is what makes this book unique. (Kudos to Tulika Books for tackling difficult topics head-on!)

In light of the terrible violence taking place around the world, if you ever want to introduce the concept of war in a gentle, yet emphatic way, then this is the book for you.

We’re excited that the book is on the shortlist for the Neev award 2019. Check out our reviews of the other books on the Neev shortlist. What did you think of the book? Comment and let us know! Also check out the Best of Indian Children’s Writing (BICW) – Contemporary Award list!

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