Friday, April 12, 2013

Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang

The author's bio starts with these words: "Ji-li Jiang was born in Shanghi, China, and now lives near San Francisco, California. For over twenty years she nursed her childhood memories of surviving the Cultural Revolution, and she finally brought them to life in her first book, Red Scarf Girl, which has become required reading in many schools..."

I kinda think Red Kite, Blue Kite ought to become required reading in many schools. The illustrator wisely offers spaciousness, breathing room to the painful story of a boy and his relationship with his father, Baba. The boy and Baba love to fly kites together among other things. Then, "a bad time comes." Baba must go to a labor camp to work. They arrange to fly their kites at dawn and dusk, ensuring each is thinking about the other and seeing the other's kite, even at a great distance apart. Months later, Baba returns for a superbrief time and tells the boy that he, the father, can no longer fly his kite, but the boy must continue to fly his. Angry for his father leaving again, his grandmother smoothes his anger with the story of how the father got to the boy. Confirmed as important, the boy commits to flying his kite even more.

No spoiler here. You gotta read this one. It is beautiful. Important. Required. Red Kite, Blue Kite.

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