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

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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