THE KITE FIGHTERS

Kite making and flying strengthens the bond between two brothers, and earns them a royal friend to boot, in this perceptive tale set in 15th century Korea. The fighter kites that 14-year-old Kee-sup builds and decorates are splendid, but it's his younger brother Young-sup who has the innate gift for flying them. Nonetheless, when the boy king himself asks Kee-sup to create a special kite and Youngsup to fly it in the upcoming New Year's kite competition, to Young-sup's outrage their father decides that it's Kee-sup's place as first born to be the flier, despite his lack of aptitude. Park (Seesaw Girl, 1999) tucks traditional Korean customs and values into the story at every turn, while giving each of her young characters a distinct, complementary set of abilities and inclinations; it is only because everyone from the king on down helps, directly or indirectly, that Young-sup is, in the end, allowed to fly the kite His victory comes as no foregone conclusion either, but only after a series of hard-fought rounds. Readers will enjoy watching these engaging characters find ways of overcoming webs of social and cultural constraints to achieve a common goal, and the author expresses the pleasures of creating and flying kites—“A few sticks, a little paper, some string. And the wind. Kite magic`—with contagious enthusiasm. (Fiction. 911)

Pub Date: March 20, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-94041-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

The Buehners retell the old familiar tale with a jump-roping, rhyme-spouting Goldilocks. When their porridge proves to be too hot to eat, the bear family goes for a stroll. Meanwhile, Goldilocks comes knocking to find a jump-roping friend. This Goldilocks does not simply test out the chairs: “Big chair, middle chair, little chair, too, / Somebody’s here to bounce on you!” And so continues the old favorite, interspersed with Goldilocks’s jump-rope verse. When she escapes through the bedroom window, none of the characters are sure what sort of creature they have just encountered. The Buehner’s homey illustrations perfectly capture the facial expressions of the characters, and lend a particular kind of mischief to Goldilocks. Readers may miss the message on the copyright page, but hidden within each picture are three creatures, instantly adding challenge and appeal. Cute, but there’s not quite enough new here to make it a must. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-2939-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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