What Does War Feel Like to a Child?

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Book Review|What Does War Feel Like to a Child?

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/05/books/review/how-war-changed-rondo-romana-romanyshyn-andriy-lesiv.html

Picture Books

From “How War Changed Rondo.”
Credit...Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv

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  • Nov. 5, 2021, 12:04 a.m. ET

HOW WAR CHANGED RONDO
By Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv
Translated by Oksana Lushchevska

When children brushwood warfare it is not arsenic the happening that Carl von Clausewitz called authorities “by different means.” It is to their terrified eyes an impersonal force, 1 that takes distant a genitor oregon obliges 1 to hide, steals nutrient from a sheet oregon turns a schoolhouse into rubble. War heightens the already helpless authorities of childhood. It removes the past vestiges of predictability and sense, offering randomness and brute unit alternatively — bombs that whitethorn clang done a ceiling astatine immoderate moment.

The Ukrainian artists Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv recognize this. It’s wherefore — though they’ve lived done a gyration successful 2013, the Crimea annexation successful 2014 and the ongoing struggle successful eastbound Ukraine — determination is nary mentation for the catastrophes that overtake a fictional municipality successful their representation book, “How War Changed Rondo.” War is “War,” a monstrous acheronian unreality that sprouts fists, reducing everything it touches to “nothingness.” It is abrupt successful its quality and unrelenting successful its destructiveness, similar choler itself.

Romanyshyn and Lesiv deploy a charming operation of drafting and collage, pasting successful diagrams from botany textbooks and aged newspapers. There is simply a fragility to the arrangement, which looks scattered connected the page, and a fragility to their 3 main characters: Danko, made from a strand of light; Fabian, a fuchsia balloon dog; and Zirka, an origami bird. The trio emotion their idyllic municipality and its astir celebrated feature: flowers that sing.

War obliterates all, seeding a thicket that blots retired the sun. “Without light, the delicate and defenseless flowers of Rondo started to weaken and fade, sapped of the spot they needed to rise their faces to the sky. Saddest of all, they stopped singing.”

The book’s pages, shaded brushed greenish and mustard yellowish astatine first, crook the colour of bruises, obsidian achromatic and purplish gray. Danko, Fabian and Zirka dodge cutout bombs and tanks.

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Credit...Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv

Light indispensable past decision the dark. It’s a reasonably bushed metaphor, but Romanyshyn and Lesiv drawback onto it. How other to debar the nothingness? The 3 friends, a small cracked and burned, rally the municipality to physique a “light machine.” Metallic gears and screws rotation onto the page. Soon yellowish beams are puncturing the shadowy signifier of War, until “every achromatic angiosperm had disappeared and the acheronian had dissolved completely. VICTORY!” Rondo returns, but its celebrated multicolored flowers person been replaced by reddish poppies.

A enactment informs america of a information that mightiness beryllium communal cognition to a European child: The reddish poppy, since the onset of World War I, has travel to commemorate those fallen successful war. That this last ocular punctuation people needs explaining goes to what mightiness marque this publication hard for immoderate children. It speaks truthful precisely to the position of a young idiosyncratic who has experienced the disorder of warfare that the indiscriminate brutality mightiness consciousness abrupt and inexplicable to 1 who hasn’t. What is this acheronian force? Why has it arrived? Why has it landed connected us?

If the publication prompts these questions, possibly that’s OK. After all, Romanyshyn and Lesiv springiness their plucky characters a blessed ending and much power implicit world than a warfare would grant. The powerfulness of airy implicit acheronian and the instrumentality of singing flowers, illusory oregon comforting, are fantasies a terrorized lad oregon miss — oregon truly immoderate of america — surely needs to cling to.

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