Friday, January 24, 2014
Red Kite, Blue Kite - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF
This book is already on the Perfect Picture Book Friday list.
So why am I posting about it again??
Well, I don't know about the other bloggers, but I sometimes write two or three posts in advance. It all depends on when I discover great books that I think deserve notice. Some weeks at the library, I don't find anything I would rave about. Sometimes, I hit the mother lode. And although I had already written this post, another #PPBF blogger, Pat Tilton, introduced this book December 9, 2013. (the last week we had #PPBF). Usually when this happens, I sigh, think "shoulda posted sooner" and hit the delete button. Then I thought, I'll post on December 20th, not realizing that #PPBF was cancelled until January 2014! So, it's been awhile, and maybe you all ran out to read it already. But maybe you didn't. And you should. And Red Kite. Blue Kite links to another book I wrote about. So, I hope you don't mind reading about it again!
Title: Red Kite, Blue Kite
Author: Ji-li Jiang
Illustrator: Greg Ruth (AWESOME website BTW!)
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion, 2013
Audience: 5-8 years of age
Themes: family, absent parent, China
Opening: I love to fly kites, But not from the ground. My city
is crowded, and the streets are skinny. Baba and I fly
our kites from the tippy-top of our triangle roof.
Synopsis: Tai Shan and his father enjoy the feeling of freedom they get from flying kites from their rooftop. At first when Tai Shan and his father are separated during China’s Cultural Revolution, his father is able to return for weekend visits. When those visits are curtailed, they agree that they will each fly a kite every day, high in the sky and visible over the miles, to “see each other.” Tai Shan’s mother died during childbirth so while father is gone Tai Shan has to stay with a local farmer, Granny Wang. Granny is a loving figure who lets Tai Shan ride her buffalo and comforts him, but she can't take the place of Tai Shan's father. The book includes a historical note about the Cultural Revolution in the 1960's.
Why I like this Book: After I read DanielBeaty’s Knock Knock I began looking for more books about absentee parents and came across Red Kite, Blue Kite. I feel that Knock, Knock does a fantastic job of addressing a child’s resiliency under difficult circumstances. What Red Kite, Blue Kite adds, and hits out of the park in my opinion, is to capture what the illustrator’s note describes as “the irrepressible power of love and hope in difficult times.” The author does a tremendous job showing how life gets worse and worse for this father and son pair without showing any overt abuse. Simply being away from each other is punishment enough. And finding their own special way to express love is enough to see them through the dark times.
Activities/Resources:Fly a kite! Make a kite. The My best kite website has a laundry list of styles to try. Wiki How has directions for a simple kite made from a plastic bag (note: I had trouble getting the tape to hold the sticks when we tried this :) Be sure you have duct tape!) Talk about how other ways a parent and child can stay connected when separated by miles, whether it's just for a short time like a business trip or a much longer period of time. Maybe make a picture or note to put in mom or dad's briefcase or lunchbag! The kites were a secret signal between father and son. Brainstorm different secret signals your family could use--Carol Burnett's ear tug comes to mind. Older readers may want to discuss what happened during China's cultural revolution. The publisher has a 12-page teacher's guide for Red Kite Blue Kite.
This review is part of Perfect Picture Book Friday. On her blog, Susanna Leonard Hill keeps an ever-growing list of books that have been reviewed, with all the links. Thank you, Susanna!
I hope you enjoyed the review. Let me know if you've read the book yet!