A resourceful boy in a new town discovers a talent for giving old scraps flight in this immigrant's story.
Francisco misses his home in El Salvador and can't get out of his funk as he waits out a summer in his new home in Chicago. Remembering the joy of flying kites with his friends back home, he collects discarded materials around the neighborhood, eventually making his own kite, though not without hesitation. The first thrilling flight leads to more ambitious designs, and before long, Francisco wins both friends and a bit of fame. He’s even offered a chance to build kites for money, allowing him to take his mother out to a Salvadoran restaurant. The sturdy (if sometimes stiff) text doesn't skimp on chronicling Francisco's ongoing doubts as well as his triumphs. The line-and-watercolor illustrations capture his moods elegantly, from his bored sulking at the story's start to his determined builder's face to his absolute pleasure smelling a hot plate of pupusas or watching his dragon kite take to the sky. The kites themselves, with their patchwork patterns, are gloriously rendered with depth and variety. All text in the book displayed in English is followed by its Spanish equivalent on the same page, separated by narrow, unobtrusive illustrations.
Francisco's transformation from pensive newcomer to entrepreneurial kite master is inspiring and well-detailed in this successful slice of life. (Picture book. 6-10)