The Lost Child of Chernobyl


One April night, people living near Chernobyl see a bright light in the sky.  Everyone is told to move out of the forbidden zone around the destroyed nuclear reactor, but two stubborn old ladies, Anna and Klara, refuse to leave.  Nine years later, the forest wolves bring a ragged child to their door – a child who has been living with wolves in the forbidden zone. Who is the lost child of Chernobyl and will Anna and Klara be able to find the child’s family after all this time?

Inspired by the real events of the global environmental disaster at Chernobyl in April 1986, this haunting and deeply relevant graphic novel is about the place of humans in the natural world, about healing, survival and the meaning of home.

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The Lost Child of Chernobyl

Helen Bate

(Otter-Barry Books) – hardback 

Graphic novels are a highly effective medium for presenting complex ideas and issues to young readers. Helen Bate’s previous work has already shown her to be particularly adept in this regard, for example at Me and Mrs Moon and Peter in Peril.
Her latest graphic novel is inspired by the events of 26th April 1986.  The Chernobyl nuclear explosion caused horrendous environmental damage globally and untold casualties.  The disaster is experienced at the outset and a fictional story in its aftermath is then told through the eyes of two women, Klara and Anna.  After the explosion, animals run wild causing a road accident from which a child flees into the surrounding forest. Villagers around the fire station notice strange things happening.  As the radioactive cloud spreads, they have to evacuate their homes but Klara and Anna refuse to leave.
Nine years later a wild child appears at their door. The little girl has been living with the wolves in the forbidden zone.  The women take care of her, knowing that eventually they will have to give her up to the authorities. They also will try to find her family. Is that even possible after such a long time?
The story is powerfully affecting and highly relevant to the present and future dilemmas we face. With its themes of survival and healing, the book also reminds us of the environmental issues impacting upon our planet.
Helen Bate talks about The Lost Child of Chernobyl in this YouTube short film


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