Set in Pakistan during Basant, “the most exciting day of the year,” this story focuses on the strength and resourcefulness of a child in a wheelchair as he navigates the skies at the spring kite festival.
Perched on the rooftop and assisted by his brother and sister, Malik launches his small but swift creation, named Falcon, into the stratosphere, where it defeats both of the kites that belong to the bully next door. (Unlikely as that may be, it will undoubtedly please the intended audience.) Falcon sends many others to the ground, where “they’ll belong to whoever finds them. But at least they will have tasted freedom.” Silk, burlap, brocade, embroidery, ribbons and rice paper mingle with light brown figures outlined in black within exquisite and dynamic mixed-media collages. In one particularly successful scene, layered buildings and billowing laundry form a backdrop, the three siblings dominate the middle ground, and Malik’s white robe becomes a sky against which small figures cycle in the foreground. Pointed Moorish arches are a design element on almost every page, often framing the text and lending a cultural reference. Displaying another side of his personality, the “King” concludes his day of warfare with a secret act of kindness. Krömer’s inventive compositions are a visually exciting match for Khan’s introduction to an appealing event (originally published in Canada in 2001 with art by different illustrators).
This story soars. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)